New Scalable AURO-CX Audio Codec Demoed at CES 2024
The clever folks behind AURO-3D are back with an all-new “first and only truly scalable next-generation audio codec” called AURO-CX, which made its premier during CES 2024 at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. The AURO-CX codec is designed for streaming, according to the Belgium-based company, but also has potential applications in broadcast. AURO says that, compared to existing codecs, its new codec has many advantages that make it “desirable to the universe of content creators, content distributors, streaming services, and audio manufacturers.” These advantages are based in the inherent scalability AURO-CX. This scalability translates to less storage space and fewer encoding passes — ultimately requiring a smaller investment in terms of time, money, and human labor.
AURO-CX enables scalable quality thanks to multiple audio waveform coding techniques, meaning that both lossy and lossless versions are included within a single bitstream, at a variety of resolutions. AURO-CX has scalable sample rates, so that a single bitstream can carry 48kHz, 96kHz, and 192kHz simultaneously. The decoder then has the option to extract the version that it needs, depending on the capabilities of the hardware on the decode end of the chain. Using just a single encode that can scale up or down at the decode end has many potential advantages, and it sounds similar (at least conceptually) to what the MQA folks have developed with their. As you might expect from the company behind AURO-3D, the AURO-CX codec also has the flexibility to transmit objects embedded in the same bitstream for immersive audio.
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. 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. 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.
— Bert Van Daele, CTO of NEWAURO B.V.
AURO-CX supports a number of flexible broadcast features, including dialogue enhancement and localized audio for multiple languages. It also has accessibility features to enable interactive and assistive audio, providing better access to more users while delivering the best possible immersive experience.
This is the first major technological development that we’ve seen from the AURO folks since AURO Technologies, the company that brought us the AURO-3D surround format, filed for bankruptcy in 2022. (See our article: late-2023 firmware update from Premium Audio Company (Onkyo, Integra, and Pioneer/Elite) added AURO-3D processing and upmixing to the top AVRs from those companies, but that had been in the works for some time. Could the introduction of AURO-CX be a sign that AURO is really back on its feet?.) At the time, AURO founder and CEO Wilfried Van Baelen said the filing wasn’t the end for the company. Van Baelen said it was only a precautionary measure on a longer road to recovery. In mid-2022, the Saffelberg Investment group acquired all AURO-3D assets, teams, and rights, and founded the new company NEWAURO B.V. in order to “further support the growth of the format and technology suite across markets.” As I recently reported, a