NEW YORK—Time flies. It’s been nearly
four years since Congress passed H.R.
1084/S. 2847, commonly referred to as the
CALM Act. International legislation requiring
broadcasters to limit the variance in level between
programming and advertised has also
been established. Has loudness monitoring
reached full maturity, or can we expect refinements
to both laws and the technology
that ensures broadcasters remain in compliance
TV Technology asked a number of major
industry players for their views on this
subject, including Chris Shaw, executive vice
president sales and marketing for Cobalt Digital,
Andrew Sachs, vice president of product
management at Volicon, Martin Winsemius,
sustaining engineering manager at Wohler,
Peter Pörs of Jünger, and Tim Carroll, chief technology officer for the Telos Alliance.
TV Technology: Was loudness monitoring
a hot topic at the 2014 NAB show?
Chris Shaw: Most U.S.
they provide CALM-compliant
that’s debatable. Besides
a number of broadcasting
groups adding loudness
(Cobalt’s 9085, 9985 and options for cards
in their possession), into their openGear
frames, the initial impetus has slowed.
This is certainly not the case in many
other areas of the world. Continual requests
are being received for both broadband and
loudness over IP solutions. At this time,
Latin America, South Korea, Southeast Asia
and India are growth markets for loudness
processing. Broadcasters in these regions
understand that they have to be compliant
when transmitting programming to major
markets such as U.S. and Europe. Interest
from these markets is expected during the
upcoming IBC Show.
Peter Pörs: Loudness is still a hot topic; a
lot of misunderstanding remains, and a lot
of misalignments. Make it pleasant for the
ears and you will see; you are almost compliant
to the recommendations!
Andrew Sachs: There is still confusion.
Between measuring full mix or downmix,
changes to the referenced BS-1770 version
and actual compliant—but for the objectively
loud commercials—we are not done
with the task.
Martin Winsemius: My general impressions
were that loudness is more understood
now, and accepted as a necessary evil
by our customers, a problem to be dealt
with rather than avoided. For loud commercials
in the U.S., and everything elsewhere,
pushback to the provider is common practice
now. It should have been all along, but
now the agency enforcement threat outweighs
TV Technology: What are the most common
misperceptions regarding loudness
Tim Carroll: One of
the most common
loudness metering is
that the loudness value
should never vary from
the target. The only way
to accomplish this is to
remove the dynamic range (i.e. the life)
from a mix; or to accidentally broadcast
test tones. Neither is a career expanding
Another misconception is that a loudness
meter is intended to replace all other
metering; it is not. A loudness meter is
like a speedometer in a car, you glance at
it as needed, but mostly you focus on the
road. Similarly, live loudness metering is integrated
over a period of time—often 10
seconds—it is useless for seeing sudden
changes but very useful for maintaining a
Andrew Sachs: One
is that it is desirable
to be alerted the
instant an output is
found to be too loud.
The reality is that the
‘too high loudness’ of
specific assets is usually an audio production
chain problem that is best fixed with
Another common misconception is that
one cannot assume that being in compliance
will translate to an absence of ‘loud’
commercials. In fact, the different loudness
yardsticks used for content (speech) and
commercials (full mix), combined with the
ability to ‘deliver content low,’ enable fully
compliant 5-6 dB jumps to occur at the
transition from program to commercial.
Chris Shaw: There remains a misunderstanding
that loudness is measured (averaged)
over the length of a program or
session, whether it be a commercial or
complete production. In actuality loudness
can be above or below the LKFS (LUFS)
limit, but is averaged over the complete
session. The term ‘loudness’ refers to not
only the highest volume, but also the quieter
segments of a session.
Peter Pörs: People are
mixing the numbers of
the peak world with
loudness numbers. Both
values are represented
the same way. And that
makes it difficult for
some people to clearly
identify what is what.
TV Technology: Is it possible that Congress,
or international bodies, will further
refine the regulations that govern
Andrew Sachs: It’s unlikely the algorithm
(BS-1770-3) used for loudness measurement
or the CALM Act itself will change
significantly, but the application regarding
gating (level or speech) and 5.1 tracks
(downmix or full mix) specified in the
ATSC A/85 RP is still under some flux.
Martin Winsemius: Taking into consideration
a variety of factors—amplitude, frequency,
and time for all channels within a
program—the ITU BS.1770 LKFS (loudness
K-weighted relative to full scale) standard
is designed to yield an accurate loudness
number that can be used effectively in content
creation and content monitoring applications.
The standard since has been refined,
with the latest release being ITU BS.1770-3.
Peter Pörs: I don’t think another kind of
regulation can improve the scenario. More
important is that all people accept the new
way of creating audio programs and that
their “artist ego” is focused to audio quality
and not to highest loudness. If everybody
is trusting his native unstudied listening
impression it should become easier to stay
compliant with loudness recommendations
or regulatory requirements.
TV Technology: What distinguishes your
company’s product line from the competition?
Tim Carroll: Linear Acoustic and the entire
Telos Alliance will continue to innovate
products and technologies to support audio
for broadcast, no matter how content
is created, delivered, and consumed. Our
unique value add is our people: we are
proud to be part of every dimension.
Martin Winsemius: Hardware loudness
metering/monitoring can take many forms,
either standalone or integrated with other
necessary audio functions, the latter being
the strong suit of Wohler’s AMP2-16V audio
and video monitoring unit. The AMP2-16V
combines VU, PPM, and loudness metering
configurable to popular or custom scales,
Wohler’s renowned acoustic performance
with a wealth of I/O conversion, routing,
mixing, de-embedding and re-embedding
functions at no extra charge.
Chris Shaw: From the initial days of the
CALM Act and the need for loudness processing,
we have worked closely with Linear
Acoustic using the Aeromax algorithms,
the Cobalt preferred product of choice and
the best solution on the market. Also, we
have listened to our customers, many of
whom had major concerns regarding compliance.
The combination has enabled us
to provide loudness processing products
to meet all budgetary and technical needs.
The Cobalt 9000 series COMPASS cards
offer single processing for HD/SD-SDI requirements.
The 9900 series of FUSION3G
cards provides for multiple processing on
a single card. A selection of processing
including multiple stereo, 5.1 audio and
added upmixing (Linear Acoustic upMax)
are all available on these cards to meet endusers
needs. Cobalt’s LMNTS provides for
multichannel loudness processing over IP/ASI. This unit provides end-users financial
and real estate rack economy.
Peter Pörs: All Jünger solutions are real-time
algorithms. All of our circuits are
wideband, no unwanted side effects, no
pumping, no breathing, no distortion, no
Andrew Sachs: Volicon is unique in combining
real-time monitoring, streaming A/V
with a variety of measurements, asset-specific
program loudness compliance reporting,
affidavit production with burned-in measurements,
and both full mix and downmix
measurements. Together, these capabilities
make the Observer Media Intelligence Platform
the most complete, easy-to-use monitoring
and compliance solution.