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Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Jun 30

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6/30/2009 12:41 PM  RssIcon

LANCASTER, PA — Standardizing DTV audio processing across its eight station Broadcast Television Division, Freedom Communications, Inc. has chosen a range of audio processing products from Linear Acoustic, the leading authority in loudness control and upmixing solutions for digital television, to ensure consistent 5.1-channel audio as well as significantly streamline plant workflows.

“The key is that we’re upmixing to 5.1 from stereo, we’re no longer switching any metadata, we don’t need any metadata decoders, and we’re matching levels with network no matter what the programming is,” explains Fred Lass, director of engineering at Freedom Broadcasting of NY, Inc. “It really solves a lot of problems in one box and it doesn’t end up costing a lot more because you can avoid all of the metadata switching.”

In addition to New York State’s Capital Region duopoly of WRGB and WCWN, located in Schenectady, NY, Linear Acoustic has delivered AEROMAX 5.1™, AERO.air (5.1)™ and AERO.one™ processors to Freedom’s Broadcast Television Division stations WWMT in Kalamazoo and WLAJ in Lansing, MI; WPEC in West Palm Beach, FL; WTVC in Chattanooga, TN; KFDM in Beaumont, TX; and KTVL in Medford, OR. KFDM also received a L.A.M.B.D.A.™ professional digital audio and metadata monitor. The broadcast stations -- five CBS and three ABC network affiliates -- reach more than 3.5 million households across the country.

The range of Linear Acoustic audio solutions selected by Freedom Communications consistently reformats all stereo programming to 5.1 channels. The company’s renowned upMAX™ algorithm may be operated in automatic mode or enabled manually to generate 5.1 audio from stereo programming. Ingested 5.1-channel content is smoothly and automatically passed through by the Linear Acoustic AutoMAX-II auto-detection algorithm.

“The result is that the viewer’s receiver does not switch back and forth between stereo and 5.1. The benefit to the listener is that it avoids the brief muting that many receivers do at the transition between 2.0 and 5.1,” said Lass.

Lass explains that Linear Acoustic processing also provides a number of major workflow advantages at the plant. Because the stations are not switching AC-3 metadata, certain elements along the audio signal path through the plant are no longer necessary. There is no need for multiple presets on the Dolby® DP-569 AC-3 encoder, for example, or for a metadata decoder on the network line. An RS-232 metadata bypass switch around master control is also no longer required. It is not necessary to deal with metadata in the station’s HD video server, nor is it necessary to track 5.1 metadata in the traffic log. Metadata tags were not required in the on-air automation system. Syndicated programming may be either stereo or 5.1 and it all airs properly.

“We reformat 5.1 from stereo programming so syndicated programming ingested into the plant can be either 5.1 or stereo without confusion. In the plant it allows us to not be concerned about the format of the audio since we no longer have to switch the Dolby Digital encoder between 2.0 and 5.1. So there will never be issues of missing dialog if the audio doesn't match the encoding format,” Lass adds.

Further, Linear Acoustic processors maintain consistent loudness from program to program, between network and local contributions, and across the boundaries of commercial insertions. Available processing includes ITU BS.1770 compliant loudness control plus selectable multiband, multistage dynamic range control.

According to Lass, although controlling loudness shifts was not Freedom Communications’ primary goal, positive comments on the local AVS Forum indicate that viewers are not reaching for the remote at every commercial break as a direct result of the new processors being installed.

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About Freedom Communications:

Freedom Communications, a privately owned information and entertainment company that is headquartered in Irvine, CA, also owns 70 newspaper titles with a combined circulation of more than one million subscribers.

About Linear Acoustic:

Linear Acoustic is a leading authority in multichannel loudness control, upmixing, and distribution solutions for digital television. The company designs and manufactures the AERO range of audio processing solutions, e² (e-squared) multichannel audio backhaul and distribution, and MetaMAX™ metadata processing products and licenses key technologies to OEM partners. The company is actively involved in standards and practices creation within the ATSC and other international standards groups, is a member of the AES and IEEE, is a sustaining member of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), and is a premier member of the Sports Video Group. Linear Acoustic is also proud to have provided its UPMAX:neo 5.1-channel upmixer and technical services for NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. Linear Acoustic is a member of the Telos group of companies along with Omnia and Axia. More information about Linear Acoustic is available at www.linearacoustic.com.

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