One of the trickiest conversations a
broadcast professional can get into
just may be about monitoring audio.
During the past few years almost everyone
in the business has come to agree
that audio loudness is a really big issue.
With standards such as EBU-128, ITU-R
BS.1770-2/1771, ATSC A/85, and ARIB, it
seems that the world is settling into agreement.
For those of us who’ve ever tried to
explain to a producer why a peak meter
should just peak in the red “occasionally,”
loudness meters are sent from heaven.
RTW, a leading European audio monitor/
control manufacturer based in Cologne,
Germany, has taken the professional audio
monitoring market by storm over the
past few years, capitalizing on the boom
for loudness monitoring systems. One of
their latest offerings, the TM3, is a compact
model that fits literally anywhere.
The TM3 display unit features a 4.3-
inch capacitive touchscreen (with superb
brightness and resolution), along with a
compact I/O control unit. The display unit
operates with either horizontal or vertical
orientation, and comes standard with
a two-meter connecting cable, for mating
up with the control unit. The display unit
is just a bit larger than an iPod, and the
I/O control unit measures 5-3/4 x 3-3/8 x
1 inches. Connections on the I/O include
a DB-25 for balanced audio in/out, analog
L/R input RCA connectors, S/PDIF input/
output RCA connectors, an RJ-11 for
GPI/O, a four-pin locking DC connector,
and two USB connectors for PC and TM3
connectivity. For analog input calibration, there are two multiturn micro potentiometers,
with very fine adjustment capabilities.
The unit requires 24 VDC, draws less
than 2 amps, and can operate at temperatures
between +5 and +40 degrees C. It
measures loudness in all of the standards
mentioned previously, and can display as
many as six audio channels. Other features
include a stereo correlator, Dialnorm measurements,
AES3 status monitor, loudness
range descriptor, and numerical displays.
After unpacking the TM3, hookup was
a snap. Using the simple labels on the
unit, I connected the display to the control
unit, plugged in the power, and connected
my old PC laptop to the control
unit. The only assistance I really needed
was a log-in name and password so that
I could download the “Devicer DC1” configuration
application from RTW’s Website
(both Mac and PC versions are available).
My German is a bit rusty, so I had to guess as to which dialog box meant “I
Agree” to the terms, but after a couple of
tries I was successful. (This was the only
area in which English was not available
during the process.)
After I downloaded the “Devicer,” and
opened the program, I did have to unplug
the USB from my PC, and re-insert it. When
the application connected to the TM3, the
upper right portion of the screen displayed
“TM3 on USB” in red letters, and there was a
“cog” on the dialogue box to indicate “tools.”
On the screen, the system was obviously set
to “demo” mode, as it was a six-channel display
with meters moving all over.
After poking around the menus a bit, I
figured out how to get out of demo mode,
and using the “Audio Group” dropdown, I
selected the two-channel stereo input.Although
the unit is capable of six channels
of digital audio, I found it a lot easier to try
it out with analog sources.
Other menu items included “Presets,”
with a dropdown that included: Loudness
Sum, LRA, Loudness Numbers, PPM
Buttons, and Correlator Buttons. The “Instrument”
dropdown revealed “Bar Orientation," “Mode,” and “Keys.” Under “Audio
Group,” one could select audio types, and
under the “Tool” button, names could be assigned,
along with identifying colors, mode
selection, and Loudness Format displays.
After I got all of my settings the way
I wanted them, I saved them—using the
“cog” icon at the top right—under the
name of “TV Technology.” With that name
highlighted, I pressed the big red up arrow,
and was prompted to “press and hold
the TM3 display.” After a few seconds, the
display on the TM3 changed from sixchannel
demo to a silent stereo metering
display. At this time, I connected left and
right outputs from an analog audio test
generator to the unit’s inputs. At 1 kHz
and 0 dB, the meters were running in the
red. Using the associated trim pots, I was
able to adjust the metering to my liking.
During the next few days, I used a combination
of test-generated signals and live
audio from various sources.
During the evaluation period, I learned
how to change presets by “swiping” my
finger across the screen, and I also became very confident in its reliability.
While a complete instruction manual
was included, I was able to figure out
most things without using it—the unit’s
operation is very straightforward.
I tested the audio monitor non-stop
for more than a week on my test bench,
and there were never any issues. The
combinations of channel assignment and
configuration are almost limitless with
this device and I’m not going to even try
to mention them here. If you’re looking
for a slick monitor for quick, easy-to-use,
and professional audio monitoring, you
can’t go wrong with the TM3-6CH.
Joey Gill is chief engineer at WPSDTV
in Paducah, Ky. and has been
with the station for 30 years. He has
worked in television since 1977. He
may be contacted at email@example.com.