Research & Development

Posted by Matt Firth, Richard Bailey, Chris Pike on , last updated

We are delighted to announce the launch of the EAR Production Suite, a set of open-source software tools for producing next-generation audio (NGA) content using open standards. The work is a collaboration with IRT through the EBU Audio Systems group. In this post, we’ll explain more about why we’ve built the EAR Production Suite and what it can do.

Why have we built it?

The term next-generation audio (NGA) is used to describe a family of new audio technologies that offer a more personalised and immersive listening experience for audiences, using the ideas of object-based media. Recently we’ve shown the benefits that this can have for accessibility with our Casualty trials, allowing listeners to adjust the clarity of the mix to their needs and preferences. NGA coding technologies are gradually becoming available, enabling efficient delivery of these capabilities to audiences over the internet and broadcast. With several different codecs on offer, an important piece in the puzzle is to have an open, interoperable format for production and archiving. Our programmes reach the audience in many different ways, and having one production format that can be encoded and delivered using the range of available solutions is very useful. For NGA, this format is the Audio Definition Model (ADM).

The ADM is a metadata model that can describe audio programme content and its format, using a range of different elements types or objects (this EBU tutorial gives more background). Over recent years, we have worked closely with EBU colleagues and other industry partners to develop a family of standards for the ADM. First, we developed the metadata model itself, and more recently, we have defined a renderer (the EBU ADM Renderer or EAR). The EAR specifies how an ADM representation is converted into loudspeaker signals, so we can actually listen to them. With the ADM and the EAR in place, we have key standards for interoperable NGA production. What we didn’t have until now were any production tools available that make use of the standards. So… we built the EAR Production Suite.

BBC R&D - Casualty, Loud and Clear - Our Accessible and Enhanced Audio Trial

BBC R&D - Libear - An Open-Source Library for the EBU ADM Renderer

BBC R&D - Looking into the EAR - Turning Audio Research Into Practice

We have two main goals in releasing the EAR Production Suite. Firstly, we think the tools are useful in their own right, to allow people to produce NGA content with the ADM standards. But, perhaps, more importantly, we also want to encourage the adoption of the ADM standards across the industry. We’ve made the code open-source, and the core capabilities are available in libraries that can be used by others in their software, whether digital audio workstations or encoding tools. With these tools, we hope to demonstrate the value of the ADM and show how to make use of it in practice.

How to use it

The EAR Production Suite (EPS) includes a collection of VST® audio plug-ins for use in digital audio workstation (DAW) software; the core EAR Production Suite plug-ins and a supplementary plug-in to support using the ADM with third-party tools. We have put together a guide which explains what these plug-ins do and how they can be used. The EAR Production Suite also includes an extension for the REAPER digital audio workstation (DAW) software which gives ADM import and export capabilities. This is also covered in the guide.

Where to get it

BBC R&D - A guide to the EAR Production Suite

EBU - The EAR Production Suite

The EAR Production Suite is available to download, along with the above tutorial video which you can watch. The source code for the EPS can be downloaded from GitHub. The EPS is distributed under the GPLv3.0 to comply with the binary distribution requirements of JUCE and VST®3. However, if you would like to work with us and require portions of the source code under a more permissive license, please get in touch.

The component libraries libadm, libear, and libbw64 are also available. These libraries are all distributed under the Apache licence, version 2.0.

 
 
 

Tell us about it

We're really keen to know what you think of the EAR Production Suite. For feedback, feature request and bug reports, we would appreciate it if you submit an Issue on our GitHub page. You can also contact the EPS team at: ear-production-suite-admins@list.ebu.ch. If you are considering adding ADM support to your own tools, we would be very happy to discuss and advise.

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BBC R&D - Libear - An Open-Source Library for the EBU ADM Renderer

BBC R&D - Looking into the EAR - Turning Audio Research Into Practice

BBC R&D - Audio Research

EBU - The EAR Production Suite

EBU - Easy NGA Implementations with C++ Library from BBC and IRT

EBU Audio Systems group

IRT - Next Generation Audio

IRT - More open-source for open object-based audio workflows

BBC R&D - Casualty, Loud and Clear - Our Accessible and Enhanced Audio Trial

BBC R&D - The Mermaid's Tears

BBC R&D - Orpheus

BBC R&D - Object-Based Media


Immersive Audio Training and Skills from the BBC Academy including:

Spatial audio: Where do I start?

3D surround sound for the headphone generation

Sound Bites - An Immersive Masterclass

Sounds Amazing - audio gurus share tips

This post is part of the Immersive and Interactive Content section

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