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New Developments in MPEG-2 Audio: Extension to Multi-Channel Sound and Improved Coding at Very Low Bit Rates

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The first objective of MPEG-2 Audio was the extension from two to five channels, based on recommendations from ITU-R, SMPTE and EBU. This was achieved in November 1994 with the approval of ISO/IEC 13818-3, known as MPEG-2 Audio. This standard provides high quality coding of 5+1 audio channels together with backwards compatibility to MPEG-1 - the key to ensure that existing 2-channel decoders will still be able to decode the compatible stereo information from multi-channel signals. For audio reproduction of surround sound the loudspeaker positions left, center, right, left and right surround are used - according to the 3/2-standard. The envisaged applications are beside digital television systems such as dTTb, HDTVT, HD-SAT, ADDT, digital storage media and the EU147 Digital Audio Broadcasting system. The second objective was the extension of MPEG-1 Audio to lower sampling rates to improve the audio quality at bit rates less than 64 kbit/s per channel, in particular for speech applications. This is of particular interest for the EU147 DAB system to provide high quality news channels at the lowest bit rate.

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