We present a new technique for encoding and decoding digital audio signals, which offers the advantage of a graceful degradation of the audio performance when the signal is conveyed over channels with a wide range of bandwidths. The flexibility of the new technique also provides a key to future evolution of the quality of digital audio or video systems within the same digital format. The class of systems described may well be of particular value in applications involving the storage or broadcast of digital audio signals when the exact bandwidth of the communication system is unknown.
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