Next-Gen TV Promises Immersive, Personalized Audio

By Dr. Richard Chernock

When we look at where television audio standards stand today, it’s hard to reconcile the initial mono sound broadcasts from television’s infancy to where it has evolved with the capabilities of the next generation of broadcast standards, part of ATSC 3.0. This progression of television audio from mono led first to stereo, then a second audio language program (SAP), to ATSC 1.0 digital with the availability of Dolby AC3 Surround Sound—each step advancing audio technology on a steady progression towards making sound more realistic and engaging.


Now, however, new doors are being opened for content developers to leverage the ATSC 3.0 next-generation audio standards and offer a more immersive sound environment, as well as provide end users with a more personalized sound experience. An exploration of ATSC 3.0 audio standards capabilities demonstrates their impact on how we deploy and engage with new sound systems that are evolving along with rapid advancements in the digital world.

Building upon surround sound that’s laid out in a plane (5.1)—such as with initial surround sound systems like Dolby AC3—ATSC 3.0 audio standards take sound to a full 7.1+4 implementation, meaning seven channels of sound in a plane, one channel for a subwoofer (or the low frequencies), and four channels overhead.

On first look, this may just seem like throwing more sound into the mix, but how that sound is delivered is what makes it so unique. With audio experts having a detailed understanding of how the ear works and how humans perceive sound, the new standards can be used more effectively to convey directionality. And, what’s more, this can be done not just on fully equipped home theater speaker systems leveraging all channels, but on something as simple as a sound bar attached to a digital TV. It’s even possible to replicate this immersive 3D sound environment using ordinary headphones.

Imagine the sound of raindrops hitting leaves over your head in a scene filmed in a tropical forest or the oncoming sounds of a helicopter approaching from the side and crossing overhead before moving on and away from you. The possibilities for sound technicians truly are expansive and these new ATSC 3.0 standards involved are designed to scale and accommodate newer, more sophisticated audio scenarios as they emerge, making for a truly immersive 3D, and much more attractive, user experience today and for the future.

While there’s likely to be some time delay related to broadcasters implementing full capability of the new standards, (as well as end users not running out to purchase advanced sound systems), there are other aspects of the new audio technologies that are going to probably be used right away, and that will ultimately be very impactful.

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Dear Fellow LPTV Broadcaster and Industry Leaders,

The auction has ended and most of us are still here.  While it was not only our hope but the hope of many others that the auction would not take place . . . it did, but it did not have the devastating effect that it might have had. 

The world after the auction looks different and amazingly so has a very bright future!

What does that future look like?  Not only the amazing possibilities of ATSC 3.0 but the landscape of a nation of people who are increasingly cutting their cable cords and looking for free, over the air, broadcasting content.

That’s why it’s more important than ever that you join the Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance.  Our board of directors have a combined 500+ years of experience which beginning with your membership we are going to start making more available to our members on an increasing basis.

Soon as an ATBA member, you will be eligible to start tapping into not only this brain trust through unique services available only to our members but regular news updates regarding our collective broadcast future.  We are exploring new ways to tap into information from Washington as well as important updates that will benefit you right there where you live.

The need for the ATBA has increased with the new opportunities that are becoming available for those of us who still know that the future of LPTV, Class A and Translators is bright!  Are you selling your station to local sponsors?  Are you maximizing your spectrum to the advantage that you truly can?  Are you struggling with FCC rules and regulations that you either don’t understand or can’t get explained?

The ATBA is developing a database of information to help you find the answers you need! 

In addition we are still working with the true decision makers in Washington.  Your ATBA has earned the respect and the ear of the true movers and shakers that continue to shape our collective broadcasting future.

So what can you do to get involved and begin to take advantage of these, and many other, benefits?  Join the ATBA today!  Your membership benefits will include:

  1. Members only access to hundreds of years of LPTV experience through our new “Brain Trust”
  2. Early entry to our annual NAB LPTV evening event with access to our special event guest(s)
  3. Exclusive digital content regarding real world information you need to know
  4. Eligibility for recognition for your hard work through our ATBA LPTV Awards
  5. Access to equipment manufacturers with discounts available especially for ATBA members!

To be honest you can’t afford not to be a member of the ATBA! 

We’re making it affordable because it’s a win – win!  When you join, you’re going to receive more than just the benefits listed above but also you’ll be aligning with hundreds of others who, like yourself, have a vested interest in the continued forward movement of free, over-the-air broadcasting.  It’s a win for your ATBA because we will increase our strength through numbers as we grow together.

So what’s the next step?  If you’re ready follow this link to sign up.  If you have more questions please don’t hesitate to call a member of the ATBA board of directors by calling this number (877) 214-4277.   You’ll get a rapid response!

Thanks for taking the time to read this note and for your ongoing passion for the future of communication in this great country.


The Board of Directors – The Advanced Television Broadcast Alliance