In Broadcast - February 2013 - 70


I N T E R N A T I O N A L

WWW.INBROADCAST.COM | ISSUE 16 - FEBRUARY 2013

N E W S

InTEST

On The Level For Legitimate Sound
Quality audio is crucial for any broadcast production, but what sound level standards apply, in which
countries, and how to comply with those standard remains an extremely complex issue…

By Kevin Hilton
Contributing Editor

Q

70

uality has always been the
watchword in television, both
for the content of the programmes
and the standard of technical
presentation and transmission.
Viewers will always complain about
the shows and broadcasters have
to pay attention to make sure they
maintain healthy audience figures,
which is a particular priority for
the commercial side in keeping
advertisers happy.
But letting technical standards
slip can be just as costly. In today’s
digital, multi-channel TV world
more broadcasters are outsourcing
playout and transmission to third
party facilities companies, who can
face financial penalties if channels
go off air, the picture freezes or the
sound is lost or distorted. Poor
quality audio is often more annoying
or uncomfortable than bad pictures.
This is because the human eye is
more forgiving than the ears, which
will not stand distortion or dramatic
changes in volume for very long.
Discrepancies in levels between
different types of material –
notably drama programmes and
commercials or promos – has been
a source of annoyance for viewers
since the 1950s. Over the last 20
years loudness has been a key
monitoring concern for broadcasters.
While audio level in general has been
relatively straightforward to monitor,
along with the different sound
sources and formats, loudness is
a subjective issue that cannot be
determined merely by checking the
peaks in a signal.
Meters based on special
algorithms for this purpose appeared
during the late 1990s but the first
specific standard for loudness was
not published until 2006. ITU-R BS
1770 (Algorithms to measure audio
programme loudness and true-peak
audio level) formed the basis for not
only a new generation of monitors
and meters but also other standards
tailored to the needs of different
countries and regions.
These include ATSC (Advanced
Television Systems Committee)
A/85 and EBU R128, drawn up
by the PLOUD working group.
A/85 forms the technical basis of
statutory loudness regulation in the
US, enshrined in the Commercial

Advertisement Loudness Mitigation
(CALM) Act, which was signed into
law in December 2010 by President
Barack Obama.

In Compliance
US broadcasters then had two
years to introduce new monitoring
and control practices prior to 13
December 2012, when the Federal
Communications Commission
(FCC) assumed powers to impose
fines on any broadcasters or cable
operators not adhering to A/85.
In the months leading up to this
there were signs some broadcast
organisations were not ready and
would apply for extensions but the
general picture coming out of the
US is that most are either complying
or on their way to compliance.

Tim Carroll,
President Linear
Acousticw

viewers
“…Satisfiedpromote
also help
good ratings and
thus revenue

”

Tim Carroll, President of loudness
monitoring system manufacturer
Linear Acoustic, observes that
broadcasters will adopt A/85 for
the simple reason that it will add to
viewer satisfaction.
“Satisfied viewers also help
promote good ratings and thus
revenue,” he says. “A/85 and its
companion EBU R128 go a long
way towards helping clarify realworld practice. But we hope that the
ultimate goal of satisfying viewers
with consistent and high-quality
audio, thus achieving de facto
compliance, is not obscured by the
words [of the specifications].”
Linear Acoustic produces a range
of loudness products, including
the AERO controllers and LQ-1000
meter, but stresses that metering
alone to hit the target figure – -24
LUFS (Loudness Units relative to
Full Scale) for A/85 and -23 LUFS

Jünger Audio’s Level Magic aims to get the sound
levels set correctly at the OB stage

in R128 – is not enough to comply
behaves the same way”.
with the regulations. Compliance,
Camerer observed that while
it states, also involves paying
some European countries were
attention to levels from all sources
now working to formal loudness
as they pass through a facility and
guidelines or laws, some were
on to the transmission point.
still behind due to technical and
Despite the different loudness
infrastructure reasons. Croatian
standards having the same root –
broadcasters, for example, are still
BS 1770 – and being very similar,
working with quarter-inch audio
there has been confusion and
tape at a time when Germany,
uncertainty among broadcasters
Austria and Switzerland, among
and facilities over what they should
others, have moved to digital and
be working towards. This situation
tapeless operations.
has not been helped by updates
Regardless of such anomalies,
to the standards appearing over a
Camerer estimates that 75% of
short period of time. A third version
Europe will be working to R128
of 1770 was published in August
during this year. The scope
2012 to incorporate changes
and scale of regulation varies
including settling uncertainty over
dramatically from country to
the implementation of the true-peak
country. France introduced a single
metering algorithm and the removal
loudness alignment system on 19th
of both the optional DC blocking
December 2011. This is compatible
filter and optional pre-emphasis.
with R128 and works to the target
of -23 LUFS. It was agreed by all
EBU R128 has also been revised
since it was published in 2010.
national broadcasters, including
The PLOUD group, which drew up
public service France Télévisions,
the standard and its supporting
advertisers and the CSA (Audiovisual
documents, held a meeting
Superior Council). These regulations
in Vienna at the beginning of
apply to distribution companies as
December last year to discuss ongoing developments. Speaking at
CONTINUED ON PAGE 71
the Loudness
Summit in
London
a
few
days
later, PLOUD
Chair
and
Senior Sound
Engineer at
ORF Florian
Camerer said
the aim was to
have as much
conformity
b e t w e e n
standards as
possible so
“in future every PLOUD Chair and Senior Sound Engineer at
loudness meter ORF Florian Camerer


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of In Broadcast - February 2013

In Broadcast - February 2013
Contents
InNews: Sony's F65 Shoots First UK 4K Feature
InNews: Channel 5 Russia Modernises with Orad Solutions
InSound:: Cobalt Digital's Loudness Solutions
InView: Agile IP Video Delivery: STB Software Architectur
InView: Boxx TV Squares Up to HD Video
InFocus: Real-Time Motion Graphics Workflows
InFocus: Meduza Set to Ship Titan 3D Camera System
InForm: Sintecmedia Acquires US-Based Storer TV
InPlay: Christie Shows Entero HB Displays Cubes
InTech: The Power Overheard of More Pixels
In Broadcast - February 2013 - Intro
In Broadcast - February 2013 - In Broadcast - February 2013
In Broadcast - February 2013 - Cover2
In Broadcast - February 2013 - Contents
In Broadcast - February 2013 - InNews: Sony's F65 Shoots First UK 4K Feature
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 5
In Broadcast - February 2013 - InNews: Channel 5 Russia Modernises with Orad Solutions
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 7
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 8
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 9
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 10
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 11
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 12
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 13
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 14
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 15
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 16
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 17
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 18
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 19
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 20
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 21
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 22
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 23
In Broadcast - February 2013 - InSound:: Cobalt Digital's Loudness Solutions
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 25
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 26
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 27
In Broadcast - February 2013 - InView: Agile IP Video Delivery: STB Software Architectur
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 29
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 30
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 31
In Broadcast - February 2013 - InView: Boxx TV Squares Up to HD Video
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 33
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 34
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 35
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 36
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 37
In Broadcast - February 2013 - InFocus: Real-Time Motion Graphics Workflows
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 39
In Broadcast - February 2013 - InFocus: Meduza Set to Ship Titan 3D Camera System
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 41
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 42
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 43
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 44
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 45
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 46
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 47
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 48
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 49
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 50
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 51
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 52
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 53
In Broadcast - February 2013 - InForm: Sintecmedia Acquires US-Based Storer TV
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 55
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 56
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 57
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 58
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 59
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 60
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 61
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 62
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 63
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 64
In Broadcast - February 2013 - InPlay: Christie Shows Entero HB Displays Cubes
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 66
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 67
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 68
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 69
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 70
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 71
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 72
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 73
In Broadcast - February 2013 - InTech: The Power Overheard of More Pixels
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 75
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 76
In Broadcast - February 2013 - 77
In Broadcast - February 2013 - S1
In Broadcast - February 2013 - S2
In Broadcast - February 2013 - S3
In Broadcast - February 2013 - S4
In Broadcast - February 2013 - S5
In Broadcast - February 2013 - S6
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