When we last reported on Auro Technologies in June 2022, known for its Auro 3D Audio home theater format, the company had filed for bankruptcy due to issues related to product and licensing shortfalls at the time.
However, as a result of its acquisition by the Saffelberg Investment Group in July 2022, which included all assets, a new name was adopted: NEWAURO BV, and a direction set to continue supporting the growth of the Auro 3D audio format across multiple segments.
As a result, NEWAURO was on hand at the 2024 CES with three noteworthy initiatives.
- AURO 3D Audio: Now included in select AVRs from Onkyo, Integra, and Pioneer.
- AURO-CX: A new immersive audio streaming codec.
- AURO-Scene: A new immersive audio smart speaker technology.
Auro 3D for AVRs
NEWAURO officially launched its collaboration with Premium Audio Company, enabling AURO-3D support on selected hardware by subsidiary brands under the Premium Audio umbrella. As part of this firmware update, Audio 3D Audio is now available on the following AVRs:
All the applicable models incorporate an 11.2 or 11.4 channel configuration that can support native AURO-3D formats ranging from AURO 9.1 to AURO 11.1.
Tip: There are more than 65 movies and 235 music albums in AURO that are available for the consumer market today, with new content updates weekly.
This update also includes Auro’s Auromatic® upmixer for any legacy non-immersive content, adding more use flexibility. The decision by the Premium Audio Company to add Auro-3D gives the newly formed company some traction in the home theater category when one considers the market penetration of the aforementioned AVR brands.
From Rudy Van Duppen, CEO of NEWAURO: “NEWAURO is excited to announce that AURO-3D has been enabled on the latest receivers from Onkyo, Pioneer, Pioneer Elite, and Integra. This is an important milestone, showing further market penetration of AURO-3D and demonstrating Premium Audio’s support for AURO-3D, AURO-3D brings to customers the truest to real-life immersive experiences for the home.”
AURO-CX for Streaming
AURO-CX is being touted as the first and only scalable next generation audio codec. This codec is primarily designed for streaming but can also be used in broadcast. This range of compatibility is the result of the codec’s scalability, which means less storage space and fewer encoding passes, both of which save considerable time, manpower, and costs.
AURO-CX enables scalable quality from lossless to transparent to lossy; all of them are included within a single bitstream thanks to multiple audio waveform coding techniques. AURO-CX has scalable sample rates that allow a single bitstream to carry 48, 96, and 192kHz, giving the decoder the option to extract only what it needs from a single encode, depending on its capabilities.
From Bert Van Daele, CTO of NEWAURO B.V: “Thanks to AURO-CX’s scalable quality, content distributors have the flexibility to address multiple audiences using the same stream. A single stream can include high-res immersive audio for the audiophile community and lower bitrate mixes for a wider consumer audience,…Because AURO-CX is scalable, it is attractive to streaming services, which can make a single stream upgradeable for premium services. This is a powerful technology.”
AURO-CX also has the flexibility to transmit objects embedded in the same bitstream for immersive audio. “Other formats have to extract objects from 7.1, resulting in a big reduction in audio quality, especially for the height channels in an immersive audio setup,” says Van Daele. “AURO does it differently. We embed objects in 13.1 immersive so that the user’s 7.1 experience is more 3D due to higher-quality height information, allowing the mix to stay true to the artist’s intent and deliver to the end user what was heard in the studio.”
In addition, AURO-CX supports a wide range of flexible broadcast features such as dialogue enhancement and localized audio for multiple languages. It also enables interactive and assistive audio, where the quality of the immersive experience can be set higher than the additional audio tracks, guaranteeing the best immersive experience while providing better access to all.
Tip: A competing technology in this market is SCL6, previously known as MQair.
AURO-Scene for Smart Speakers
NEWAURO, in partnership with Eastech, also announced that Audio-Scene is designed to bring smart speakers into the immersive audio ecosystem.
Auro-Scene is designed to create an immersive audio sound field with extended bass response from any signal on a single device, including soundbar speaker configurations from 2.0 to 5.1.2 and 3.1.1 smart speaker devices. Even standard stereo music can be upmixed into a spatial audio experience. With this technology, smart speakers join soundbars, dedicated immersive audio home theater systems, and other devices as part of the immersive audio ecosystem.
From Rudy Van Duppen, CEO of NEWAURO: “In bringing together Eastech and NEWAURO solutions, we are spearheading a technological revolution for streaming audio. This collaboration transcends mere audio component integration; it’s a visionary script for the future. Our mutual commitment to pushing boundaries is poised to yield groundbreaking 3D audio solutions,…By seamlessly blending Eastech’s cutting-edge smart speakers with our latest innovation, the AURO-Scene virtual speaker algorithm, we can guarantee an immersive experience every time you listen.”
From Tim Liou, Eastech Group’s Chairman: “As the company that designed and released the world’s first soundbar, we are excited to join forces with NEWAURO to create another breakthrough in the smart speakers category, bringing a completely new audio experience that builds on the strength of both companies.”
With Audio-Scene, Eastech smart speakers can create immersive sound from any signal. However, in addition, as a result of the integration of the AURO-3D engine, they can also decode AURO-CX, as discussed previously in this article.
For me, the most significant feature of the Auro CX and Auro-Scene options that I noticed at CES 2024 is that they don’t require the extensive speaker setup normally required for the core Auro 3D Audio format.
This means that soundbars, headphones, and smart speakers can provide an Auro 3D listening experience with these new options. On the other hand, any AVR that has a built-in Auro 3D decoder and speaker setup will work with the new Auro CX and Auro-Scene options.
Ultimately, NEWAURO has quite a challenge. Dolby Atmos has become the de facto standard for spatial audio and home theater surround sound, so AURO-3D technologies will really have to deliver something magical to entice customers to demand it.
More on CES 2024