While efficient low-bitrate coding of multi-channel audio (surround sound) has been an active topic of research for about one decade, the quest for representing audio signals in a semantically more relevant way has recently led to the development of highly efficient schemes for representing multiple audio objects, thus enabling the exciting prospect of user-based semantic interactivity for a broad palette of applications. This paper discusses the evolution and current state of the art in parametric audio object coding, its current performance, and possible applications with special focus on the recent "Spatial Audio Object Coding" standard produced by the MPEG standardization group.
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