AES introduces new 3D audio standard

The Audio Engineering Society has published the AES69-2015 standard, a document which provides "an important framework for the growing binaural and 3D personal audio industries," according to the organisation.

The standard outlines the format and exchange of spatial acoustics files, and is described as a crucial step forward in the evolving 3D audio field; an understanding of the way that the listener experiences binaural sound, expressed as head-related transfer functions (HRTF), is thought to open the way to 3D personal audio.

The lack of a standard for the exchange of HRTF data has made it difficult for developers to exchange binaural capture and rendering algorithms effectively, the AES says. While 3D audio has continued to gain popularity among end users, binaural listening could be the very first 3D audio vector with sufficient fidelity of HRTF.

The new standard defines a file format to exchange space-related acoustic data in various forms. These include HRTF, as well as directional room impulse responses (DRIR). The format is designed to be scalable to match the available rendering process and be sufficiently flexible to include source materials from different databases.

The use of convolution-based reverberation processors in 3D virtual audio environments has also grown with the increase of available computing power, the Society reports. Convolution-based reverberators help guarantee an authentic and natural listening experience, but also depend on the acoustic quality of the applied directional room impulse response (DRIR). 

AES Standards Committee chair Bruce Olson commented: “AES69 represents a fundamental piece of architecture for taking personal audio to a new level of performance. Using this, product developers will be able to take advantage of transfer-function databases from all over the world to produce a truly immersive 3D audio experience.”