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DK Squelches Loudness Complaints

Raja Sehgal
LONDON
Grand Central Studios recently upgraded five of its DK-Technologies audio meters to incorporate the company's new loudness software. This was done to allow us to evaluate audio levels on commercials and other material in line with the latest recommendations from the Broadcast Committee on Advertising Standards (BCAP).

BCAP's guidelines advise broadcasters to look at the audio levels on commercials and other material, following audience complaints that the commercials are often too loud. BCAP recommends the use of loudness meters that incorporate International Telecommunications Union (ITU) specified algorithms BS.1770 and BS.1771 to measure loudness, something that traditional PPM and VU meters can't do.

LOUDNESS COMPLAINTS

With the U.K. telecommunications regulatory body Ofcom getting complaints that commercials were too loud, and with our clients sometimes complaining that the audio on certain commercials sounded low, we knew we had to find a new way to level the playing field. Most broadcasters in this part of the world plan to adopt the ITU meter specifications to comply with the BCAP ruling, so we needed to invest in some ITU recommended loudness meters.

Luckily, since we were already using DK-Technologies audio meters, we found that these could be easily retrofitted with DK's new loudness software. This software, which was developed in response to requests from key broadcasters such as SKY, ITV, the BBC and RAI, incorporates the ITU-recommended algorithms, and provides external logging functions in connection with a PC. When we obtained the new software, we also acquired a DK MSD100C loudness meter and a new DK MSD600M++ audio meter with loudness measuring capability.

However, before making the upgrade, we decided to do some research with Independent Media Distribution (IMD), which digitally distributes commercials and programming to TV and radio broadcasters in the U.K. and Ireland. IMD has developed a custom delivery system that performs a quality control check on the sound track of advertisements they handle to ensure that the audio in these messages falls within the guidelines set by BCAP. Our research was designed to establish loudness values for commercials and to make sure that all our loudness readings were consistent. As part of this research we tested DK meters with the ITU algorithm across hundreds of commercial messages.

Since installing DK's loudness software we have found that, with the ITU specification applied, the audio track provides a much more even level, and that some commercials embodying certain audio frequencies do not suffer the way they did when we used our older loudness meters.

We have always used DK meters in both our studios and transfer bay. And because these meters are software upgradeable, choosing their system was the logical path for us to take. We are very happy with the results that we're now achieving since the upgrade.

Raja Sehgal is director of sound engineering and a senior mixer at London's Grand Central Studios. He has been with that organization since its formation more than 15 years ago. He may be contacted atraja@gcrs.com.

For additional information, contact DK-Technologies at 45-44-85-02-55 or visitwww.dk-technologies.com.