Loudness Solutions Proliferate at the NAB Show, Part 1
Loudness monitoring and measurement might just turn out to be the most fecund digital-audio product category since the microphone. The NAB Show has seen multiple new entries into an already crowded field. Here is a look at some of them.
V1.24 firmware for the Sentinel surround-sound audio monitor is available now and is free for existing customers. Among its enhancements and optimizations is a dialogue-balance measurement, which provides continuous real-time measurement of dialogue loudness against the loudness of the remaining program content, providing a simple display of dialog balance, a measure indicative of intelligibility; and downmix loudness measurement, which enables the Sentinel to simultaneously measure and display the loudness of a surround-sound program and the loudness of the same material when downmixed to stereo. An optional alarm may be enabled to alert the engineer if the difference between these loudness measurements exceeds user-set limits. www.qualisaudio.com
RTW has begun shipping its new TM3 TouchMonitor, which features a 4.3-in. touchscreen and stylish exterior allowing for horizontal and vertical placement, PPM, and true-peak instruments for comprehensive loudness metering in compliance with all globally relevant standards, including EBU R128, ITU BS.1770-2/1771, ATSC A/85, and ARIB. Instruments include single-channel and summing bar graphs, along with LRA instrument and numerical displays. The basic version handles analog and digital stereo audio, while the 5.1-surround option adds the support of six-channel digital input. www.rtw.de
HELM (Head-End Loudness Management) is a new line of volume-leveling solutions for MVPDs and broadcast operators. HELM-RT (for live feeds or real-time processing), an integrated solution for real-time loudness management, analyzes linear broadcast feeds for compliance and automatically and precisely corrects any feeds detected to be out of the set house reference level (-24 LKFS for CALM compliance). It has been designed using innovative techniques to minimize alteration of the program stream except when non-compliance is detected. Although the intelligence in the HELM correction engine is proprietary, the loudness-measurement algorithms are based on international ITU-T: BS.1770-1 and BS.1770-2 standards.
To complement HELM-RT, SRS has designed HELM-FB for offline content processing. Without the requirement to comply with a linear real-time environment, it has the ability to analyze an entire short- or long-form program many times faster than real time to accurately determine its loudness prior to making corrections. Ideal for VOD content ingest, HELM-FB was created with the content creators and programmers in mind. It seamlessly levels volume fluctuations without altering the program’s dynamic range unless instructed to by the user. Both HELM solutions have detailed logging features to provide audit trails for proof of compliance. www.srslabs.com
A new software release enhances the capabilities of the Pandora portable loudness analyzer. Pandora monitors up to eight channels of audio embedded in 3G/HD/SD-SDI or eight AES channels and, through the Wohler Loudness application, allows users to monitor, analyze, and demonstrate audio-loudness levels on an iPad or iPod touch. Features and capabilities added with this new software release include compatibility with ITU-R BS.1770-1 as well as ITU-R BS.1770-2 and EBU R128; faster, more convenient, and more frequent measurement-display updating; and improvements to Pandora’s gating function. www.wohler.com