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Freedom Stations Tap Linear Acoustic for Audio

Freedom Communications has added audio processing gear from Linear Acoustic to ensure consistent 5.1 audio as well as significantly streamline plant workflows across its eight-station Broadcast Television Division.

“We’re upmixing to 5.1 from stereo, we’re no longer switching any metadata, we don’t need any metadata decoders, and we’re matching levels with network no matter what the programming is,” said Fred Lass, director of engineering at Freedom Brodacasting of NY, Inc. “It really solves a lot of problems in one box and it doesn’t end up costing a lot more because you can avoid all of the metadata switching.”

Linear’s AEROMAX 5.1, AERO.air (5.1) and audio processing platforms have been installed at WRGB and WCWN in Schenectady, N.Y.; WWMT, Kalamazoo, Mich., WLAJ, Lansing, Mich., WPEC in West Palm Beach, Fla., WTVC in Chattanooga, Tenn., KFDM in Beaumont, Texas and KTVL, Medford, Ore. KFDM also received a Linear Acoustic L.A.M.B.D.A. professional digital audio and metadata monitor. Freedom’s eight stations—five CBS and three ABC network affiliates—reach more than 3.5 million households.

Freedom is using the range of Linear Acoustic audio solutions to reformat stereo programming to 5.1 channels. Linear’s upMAX algorithm may be operated in automatic mode or enabled manually to generate 5.1 audio from stereo programming. Ingested 5.1-channel content is smoothly and automatically passed through by the Linear Acoustic AutoMAX-II auto-detection algorithm.

Installing the new Linear gear also means new workflow advantages for the stations. Because they’re not switching AC-3 metadata, certain elements along the audio signal path through the plant are no longer necessary. There is no need for multiple presets on the Dolby DP-569 AC-3 encoder, for example, or for a metadata decoder on the network line. An RS232-metadata bypass switch around master control is also no longer required. It is not necessary to deal with metadata in the station’s HD video server, nor is it necessary to track 5.1 metadata in the traffic log. Metadata tags were not required in the on-air automation system. Syndicated programming may be either stereo or 5.1.

“We reformat 5.1 from stereo programming so syndicated programming ingested into the plant can be either 5.1 or stereo without confusion,” said Lass. “In the plant, it allows us to not be concerned about the format of the audio since we no longer have to switch the Dolby Digital encoder between 2.0 and 5.1. So there will never be issues of missing dialog if the audio doesn’t match the encoding format.”

Lass added that although controlling loudness was not one of Freedom’s primary goals when installing the Linear gear, positive comments on the local AVS forum indicate that viewers are less likely to reach for the remote every commercial break now.