Evertz Loudness Technology Makes Gains in Market
By Ken Kerschbaumer
Evertz Microsystems’ IntelliGain recently passed a milestone, with more than 1,000 channels of IntelliGain loudness-processing technology on-air. The system calculates the input loudness of a program’s audio channels and then comparing it with a user-configurable “target loudness” level to ensure viewers have the right audio experience.
“As consumers of media, we can all attest to the fact that commercials are commonly much louder than program content and channel surfing has inconsistent loudness levels,” says Tony Zare, Evertz product manager, modular products. “Either way, we find ourselves reaching for the remote to decrease or mute the volume or even changing the channel altogether, something the networks do not want us to do.”
IntelliGain works by adjusting the gain on an audio signal, he says: “If the input is perceived to be ‘lower,’ or quieter, than the input loudness level, then gain is applied. Or if the input loudness level is perceived to be higher, or ‘louder,’ than the target loudness level, then gain is removed.”
The system can be customized from program to program, and Zare says Evertz has noticed a common practice to apply a very aggressive attack on those transitions from program to loud commercial levels. “This three-step process,” he adds, “is also monitored by VistaLINK, our SNMP-management software, to provide real-time statistics to the user and provide real-time alarm traps if a fault were to occur.”
One advantage of the Evertz approach, he says, is that the technology can be added to many of the company’s hardware products. “We have had many successful installs with IntelliGain added as a ‘value-add’ to functional products, such as frame synchronizers, distribution amplifiers, automatic changeover switchers, and even our core routing platform, the EQX,” he says, adding, “The customer’s imagination comes into play.”
Being able to apply the technology to many Evertz products also means that it can be used in a variety of ways. Zare notes two common placements for IntelliGain loudness processing. The first location is directly on the inputs to the plant. This acquisition stage allows facilities to immediately apply loudness control prior to signals’ entering the plant and ensures that anything entering the plant meets the target-loudness specifications set out by the facility; it’s monitored in real time.
“For example,” he says, “integrating IntelliGain with an Evertz frame synchronizer makes an ideal solution to the output of an [integrated receiver decoder] as the signal makes its way into the plant.”
The second common placement: IntelliGain processing can be applied immediately prior to transmission of the signal, ensuring that all signals are normalized to the facility’s production specification.
“A prime device for this placement is ordering IntelliGain processing on our automatic-protection-switch devices,” says Zare. “These strategic placements allow facilities to ensure that audio loudness levels are met both within the plant and at transmission to the final destination.”
Zare sees the strength of the system in the end product, with audio results that are smooth and artifact-free. “You won’t have to worry about those audio compression or ‘pumping’ issues we’ve all dealt with in the past,” he says. “And the ability to apply advanced integration of a loudness processor to almost any product required within the facility allows for an elegant, cost-effective, and rack-space–saving solution.”