HEVC Audio: Based on the Past, Headed for the Future
TVTechnology.com reports that when we discuss video compression such as MPEG-2 and H.264, most of us tend to think of the video aspects and don’t think much about the audio. Sure, audio is important, but it’s just… there.
Now that there is a strong push to move beyond MPEG-4/H.264 compression now used for Blu-ray disks and many camcorders, we should spend a little time looking at the audio features of the next-generation of video encoding. The most likely next-generation codec for widespread use is HEVC (high efficiency video coding), which is also known by its ITU designation of H.265. Keep in mind that this is a video codec, and not an audio codec. The audio encoding that will accompany HEVC is being worked on by different teams than those working on HEVC/H.265.
There is a competitive compression standard being developed by Google called VP9, which will be built into many Web browsers. Available with no royalty payments, Google’s vision for VP9 is that it will have better performance both in terms of encoding efficiency and image quality as compared to HEVC/H.265. Still, H.265 looks to be where professional and broadcast video are going in the next couple of years, despite the fact that royalty payments are associated with the standard.
There is yet another next-generation video codec on the near horizon, called Daala, being developed by the Xiph.Org Foundation and Mozilla Corp. The founder of Xiph.Org has stated that the performance of Daala should be a generation beyond HEVC and VP9, but an initial release is not expected in 2015. Interestingly, the Xiph.Org Foundation is the creator of FLAC (free lossless audio codec), which is well-regarded for its audio performance.