Having relied on industry standard hardware loudness metering for many years, engineers in the two Music Mix Mobile (M3) remote trucks at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards telecast made the switch to the Waves Loudness Meter (WLM) plugin from Waves Audio.
Broadcast live from L.A.’s Staples Center in 5.1 audio on CBS-TV on Feb. 12, the move, for the first time, enabled all essential surround and stereo metering to be displayed directly in line-of-sight with the broadcast monitor screen, providing the music mixer with visual feedback at a glance without having to turn out of the audio sweet spot to look at a rack-mounted metering unit. The WLM was set up to meet ATSC A/85 standards.
The previous setup, which required the music mixer to look in two different directions in order to take in all the metering, was less than satisfactory, according to Joel Singer, Engineer-in-Charge at M3, a New Jersey/California-based remote facilities company.
“Visually, it didn’t work with the eye too well,” Singer said. “We were able to utilize the WLM and its greater visibility and functionality on our front monitoring system for this show. The new set-up worked out perfectly.”
Singer then continued.
“We have one screen inside the truck dedicated to metering only coming off the Pro Tools mixer system,” he said. “We’re now able to set up 5.1 and LtRt Durrough meters, we’re able to set up a WLM loudness meter, and we can also see a main bus compressor.
“The engineer can just look up from the console and see the program in front of him on the 46-inch LED screen. He can look to his right and see all the meters, he can look at previews to his left, and he stays in the zone the entire time.”
The WLM plug-in, which features mono, stereo and 5.1 components, is fully compliant with all current ITU, EBU and ATSC metering specifications and offers comprehensive readout options, including Momentary, Short Term, Long Term and True Peak. Measurements may be selected for foreground, dialog and average loudness, while an intelligent dialog sensor detects and measures speech.
Accurate, visible loudness metering is essential for the mixers to be able to create a dynamic show for the Grammy broadcaster, CBS, explained Singer.
“We want the quiet passages to have the same dynamics as the loud passages,” he said. “We’re trying to create a very even and properly executed show based on the CBS spec. After a lot of testing and working with Waves on the WLM, we decided that this was the year we were going to deploy it.”
Although the Grammys were the first deployment of the Waves Loudness Meter by M3, Waves plug-ins are a staple on the trucks.
“Waves software was very integrated into the show,” Singer said. “On the Springsteen part of the show, his engineer, Bob Clearmountain, asked if we could put a Waves 5.1 SSL bus compressor on the main output to give it that little pop that he wanted.
“We used a couple of other Waves plugs that we’ve always used from the SSL 4000 and V-Series collections, and the Chris Lord-Alge CLA-76 Compressor. Chris happened to visit the truck and he saw that we were using all sorts of plug-ins that were part of the signature bundle that he created with Waves.”
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