Initiating the Surround Sound Era for Digital Radio

Telos / Omnia and Fraunhofer IIS announce first public demonstration of their new surround system for HD Radio(tm) at NAB Radio Show in San Diego

1 October 2004, San Diego, CA USA

At the NAB Radio Show, October 6th – 8th in San Diego, Telos / Omnia and Fraunhofer IIS present a novel surround system for HD Radio™ technology, delivering impressive full surround audio without compromising the stereo signal in any way. This way, both users equipped with conventional stereo receivers and those owning surround receivers will get the maximum audio pleasure while listening to the same radio program.

HD Radio, the approved digital radio broadcast system for the US, works in the traditional FM and AM channels to deliver high quality digital audio to listeners. About 140 radio stations are already on-air using HD Radio technology, with many more planning to begin HD Radio broadcasts. Several digital receivers capable of HD Radio reception are available to consumers.

Omnia's President, Frank Foti says, "Surround using this approach and transmitted digitally using HD Radio technology is a true gain in audio excellence."

The key to the system is that all the pieces of the audio that go to the surround channels are present in the two stereo channels. Additionally, there is an ancillary data channel used for transmitting spatial information. The surround decoder, if present in the receiver, uses this information to move the pieces of audio to their respective positions, recreating the original multi-channel sound. In the system presented, 80 kilobits per second (kb/s) are used for the stereo channels, and 16 kb/s for the surround information.

The system is based on work by Fraunhofer IIS and Agere Systems in the area of "binaural cue coding". Three essential factors are required for the perception of a spatial audio image: level difference, time difference and coherence between channels. These values are represented as a function of frequency and time with very compact coding and allow for a huge data saving compared to transmitting all audio channels individually.

Harald Popp, Director of the Fraunhofer IIS Multimedia Realtime Systems Department notes, "Having invented MP3 we see surround as the next major audio enhancement. The sound is exquisite in the lab and will be as striking on air."

Telos CEO Steve Church comments, "Radio station owners paid for an old-fashioned FM stereo license, but with this tech they could have a state-of-the-art digital surround license for no additional cost."

The surround technology can work with any core stereo codec. Fraunhofer IIS has already presented it as an enhancement to MP3 and MPEG-4 HE-AAC, and work is underway to marry it with other codecs.

To hear a live demonstration of this system, visit the Telos Systems / Omnia Audio booth, #907, at the NAB Radio Show in San Diego, 6 – 8 October, 2004. For more information, please contact Caroline Dorsey at +1 216-241-7225, or e-mail

Telos Systems, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio with offices in Europe and Canada, is a leading manufacturer of ISDN, coded audio and telephone interface products for talk-shows, teleconferencing, audio production, remote broadcasts, and intercom applications.

Omnia, a Telos company, is world-renowned for its digital audio signal processing expertise. Omnia audio processors for FM, AM, TV, HD Radio & DAB, Internet, and audio production are setting new standards for professional audio quality.

Agere Systems is a premier provider of advanced integrated circuit solutions for wireless data, high-density storage and multiservice networking applications. Agere's wireless data portfolio enables seamless network access and Internet connectivity through its GPRS offering for data-capable cellular phones, as well as Wi-Fi/802.11 solutions for wireless LANs and computing applications.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, today with 450 staff members, reached international recognition with the development of the audio codec MPEG Layer-3. It provides research services on contract basis and technology licensing. Research topics are: Audio and video source coding, digital radio broadcasting systems, analog and digital integrated circuits, tools for design automation, high-speed camera systems, industrial and medical vision systems, wireless, wired and optical networks, nanofocus X-ray technology, and communications technology in transport and logistics.

HD Radio is a trademark of iBiquity Digital Corporation.

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