It's Thursday night and time for your favorite medical drama. The two stars appear to be whispering their dialogue and you turn up the volume to catch every word. Then the scene transitions to high-action with excruciatingly loud audio and you're forced to watch the show with your fingers on the remote's volume control.
This is frustrating to say the least, and it's not uncommon for stations to receive two to three calls or letters a day from angry viewers complaining about program audio issues.
DTV EXACERBATES AUDIO PROBLEMS
The transition to digital has made program loudness control even more of a priority, as the wild swings in audio when a station switches from local stereo audio to network 5.1 feeds have become even more apparent, even with best practices at the station.
As director of engineering at the QNI Broadcast Group, a family owned operation with 12 stations in five states, it was my responsibility to address this situation, and a few years ago my team and I began investigating several approaches to loudness control. We wanted to provide viewers with a smoother listening experience, and had to find a cost-effective, reliable and powerful loudness control product to process our audio.
After a lot of research, we found that the Linear Acoustic AERO.air (5.1) Ten-Channel Transmission Loudness Manager met all of our needs. We were really looking for a loudness control manager that we could "set and forget." It also had to would work well without daily oversight and/or frequent maintenance. Linear Acoustic has a stellar reputation for reliable products that simply get the job done when it comes to loudness control, so we were very confident in our selection.
With discussions in Congress regarding regulation of programming audio and the CALM Act on the table, Linear Acoustic has assured us that the AERO.air is fully customizable and would be compliant with any future legislation that might be issued in this area.
We also have a Dolby encoder at some of our stations, so a substantial benefit of the AERO.air includes the integrated Dolby AC-3 output.
We selected WKOW-TV, our Madison, Wisc. ABC affiliate, for the first AERO.air installation. Our station engineer there had the pre-wiring ready to go, and Linear Acoustic came on-site to configure the the unit, fully customizing it for that station. As the AERO.air has two processors, we are also able to process audio from our subchannel, normalizing the audio and syncing it with the local breaks we insert.
The reception from our engineering staff is a testament to the AERO.air's superior performance and ability to deliver compelling stereo and 5.1-channel surround sound.
AUDIO TRANSITIONS NO LONGER PAINFUL
The station's general manager, Tom Allen, told me that that the program audio produced by the AERO.air was music to his ears. He added that for the first time in years, he hasn't winced when transitioning between network and local sources, or from program to commercial break.
The best part of installing the AERO.air is that we've not received a single audio complaint since its installation. In fact, viewers have even commented that not only is the audio level constant, but it has actually improved, with viewers able to hear effects that they didn't hear before. We're very pleased with the Linear Acoustic AERO.air, and plan to install units in all 12 of our stations.
Brady Dreasler is the director of engineering for the QNI Broadcast Group and began his broadcasting career in 1972. He may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, contact Linear Acoustic at 717-735-3611 or visitwww.linearacoustic.com.