Nugen Tools Cope With Evolving Audio Landscape

SURREY, ENGLAND—Having worked for some time as an audio engineer, rerecording mixer, and consultant, as well as sound designer and dubbing mixer for film and television, I very much welcome the growth of loudness regulation.

In the broadcast arena, sound engineers have traditionally focused on mixing peak levels for delivery, which too often has meant mixing with minimal dynamic range in order to drown out the competition. By providing a standard by which we can normalize our audio mixes to actual perceived loudness levels, new regulations such as EBU R-128 are providing the latitude for increasing dynamic range, while still remaining compliant.

Justin Fraser I stress the importance of using tools for clear and intuitive loudness metering and correction such as Nugen Audio’s VisLM, LM-Correct and their ISL plug-ins. ISL is incredibly useful for repurposing programming from one standard to another, and for limiting erroneous peak levels of audio mixed to a specific dynamic range. I really appreciate how accurate and transparent this tool is for ensuring audio quality. It is primarily geared towards current broadcast loudness standards—which is one of its many strengths—but I have also recently used it on a music mastering project to help tame any potential inter-sample peaks that would have otherwise ended up compromising the CD being produced.

Throughout my career, I’ve used a lot of metering tools from various manufacturers, but after being introduced to Nugen Audio’s VisLM, I sensed that it would quickly become my level meter of choice. The amount of visual feedback it provides at a glance is incredibly useful when I’m mixing to average loudness specifications, and it also helps my students break down the different elements of the specs and to draw parallels between them.

Compared to its competitors, Nugen Audio always seems to stay on top of the evolving loudness standards and continually develops its plug-ins to accommodate new iterations of the various specifications. For instance, the company added a dialog gate option for LM-Correct and VisLM to enable automatic measurement of average loudness in dialog sections of source material which is essential for feature work. They also recently added the relative gate functionality to the evolving ATSC A/85 standard presets.

Such additions provide a lot more flexibility for offline loudness measurement and for automatic compliance with many international standards. Also, these tools allow you to “dial in” previous iterations of standards to accommodate facilities that are taking a tiered approach in adopting the EBU R-128 loudness standard.

The Nugen Audio tools have proven ideal for me and others who place a high value on mixing with dynamic range versus mixing to peak levels. It’s so important to be aware of the potential true peak level on the consumer’s playback device, as ultimately it is the consumer who is the true critic when it comes to an enjoyable listening experience within their environment. Nugen Audio tools are my choice for delivering fast turnaround work that is absolutely on spec.

Justin Fraser is a Grammy-nominated and Emmy Award-winning audio engineer/re-recording mixer and consultant. He may be contacted

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