Fraunhofer upHear® Immersive Audio Virtualizer

Overview

About

The Fraunhofer upHear® Immersive Audio Virtualizer is a codec-agnostic audio post-processing technology that brings authentic and enveloping 3D sound to mass-market consumer devices such as soundbars and TVs.

Consumer products incorporating Fraunhofer upHear create a convincing immersive 3D audio experience from any input source without the need for advanced loudspeaker setups in the living room.

Based on a sophisticated signal analysis, the synergy of hardware and software processing and individual tuning by Fraunhofer’s experienced sound designers, Fraunhofer upHear enables 3D audio soundbar designs that don’t require satellite surround speakers and therefore reduce hardware costs.  

Challenge

Immersive audio content is increasingly becoming available to consumers delivered by premium streaming services, in UHD-TV broadcasts or on Blu-ray discs. The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018 will be the first major sports event broadcasted in 3D audio using Fraunhofer’s MPEG-H TV audio system.

Conventional approaches to play back immersive sound in living rooms require overhead loudspeakers in addition to the legacy surround setups. Often, only audio enthusiasts will install such a system. The number of loudspeakers and wiring, as well as the specialized knowledge required make installation impractical for the majority of consumers’ homes.

Recognizing the drawbacks of traditional 3D loudspeaker setups, our challenge was to develop a high-quality 3D audio consumer experience that is convenient and easy to set up, without compromising high-quality sound reproduction.

 

Our Approach

Besides the actual software algorithm, an integral part of our offering is device-specific tuning by our sound engineers and consultancy regarding hardware specifications.

Our technologies are based on more than twenty years of experience in perceptual audio signal processing and in various fields of spatial audio reproduction.

At Fraunhofer IIS we are dedicated to audio excellence, which we achieve by combining intelligent audio signal processing techniques with artistic aspiration. Researchers, developers, and sound engineers work together in interdisciplinary teams to create technically - as well as aesthetically - superior audio technologies.

Product Features

For the manufacturer

  • Immersive audio reproduction optimized for specific hardware designs
  • Audio codec-agnostic, validated with MPEG-H encoded content
  • Includes advanced upmix of legacy stereo and surround content

For the consumer

  • Easy to set up, works out-of-the-box, no cable clutter, no search for correct loudspeaker positions
  • Unsurpassed immersive sound reproduction, dramatic improvement over today's stereo and surround soundbars
  • Turns any content (stereo music, surround movie sound, etc.) into an immersive audio experience while preserving the authenticity of the original audio

Hardware Requirements

An immersive soundbar reference hardware design is available which demonstrates the highest sound reproduction quality of Fraunhofer’s upHear Immersive Audio Virtualizer. The reference design is based on a single-element soundbar without satellite speakers. Deviations from the reference design specifications are possible (e.g. to match available drivers from the manufacturers catalogue).

In addition, Fraunhofer upHear can also be applied to existing soundbar designs.

Availability

The Fraunhofer upHear Immersive Audio Virtualizer can be provided as an optimized object code library for embedded systems (e.g., Analog Devices and Texas Instruments DSPs). It is available for licensing to CE manufacturers.