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Loudness metering and standards 2

The last post was a kind of rant, now I want to focus on the process, the improvement, where we are now. As I already mentioned, this is a long process, so obviously we couldn’t solve each and every issue here, but there’s some promising result, and a few of us are very persistent, we are sure about that we will successfully implement at least a quasi EBU standard into our daily workflow here.

Where we are now

At least, after a few weeks of heated debate, we managed to to get a formal agreement from the decision makers that they really support an international standard, or a system, which is based on an EBU standard. It is kind of funny that the Hungarian broadcasters don’t really care about any real standard, and although I know we cannot change everything inside and outside the building, we might spread the good work practice and form some more “calm” loudness environment.

So now we had the some brainstorming, know what could be the golden middle for everyone, let’s make this a reality.

Tests

As I’ve mentioned the aim is not simply to implement a standard, but to really analyse, understand and implement a standard which could work in very different situations. Just for a reminder these are the situations where the “new” loudness standard should work flawlessly:

  • TV broadcast for various stations
  • Radio broadcast for various stations
  • Webcast
  • CD and DVD (commercial)
  • Digital distribution (partly planned in the near future, downloadable, shareable materials)

We made some tests during the last few weeks and found that the current r128 is somewhat too soft to meet all the requirements. Partly because no one in this country adheres to any current loudness standard, but partly because it seems that the –23LUFS is too low for the Webcasts and for the Digital distribution packages and the radio station found that too low also.

Now it seems that if we are able to stick with –18–20LUFS that would be almost the perfect golden middle. With this little higher average we still out of the very detrimental range of the “final make it broadcast loudness-limiter”, the well-adjusted broadcast processors works fine with this, on-air it doesn’t seem/sound too soft or loud and the very popular Webcasts seems to work very well.

The first baby step will be to make this an internal standard throughout the video and sound studios. It wouldn’t require huge efforts, just a little diligence and practice. In the meantime I provide each and every mix as r128 compliant, or a little hotter one depending on the usage (web, etc.).

I decided to make some external testing too. The last few shows I mixed are completely within standards, perfectly hit the –23LUFS. Still waiting for the reaction from the National TV. I have some educated guesses what will their reaction be, but don’t want to tell you before I got the results. Will report back, I’m curious too.

Some material to check out

If anyone seriously interested in the current schemes, there are plenty of material available on net. Here you can find some really useful links about the current loudness standards, they may help you to pick up some new information, or if you’re new to this whole loudness thing, these will aid you on the way to fully grasp every detail about it.

First, the papers:

EBU – recommendation r128 pdf

The full audio seminar by Florian Camerer:

 

EBU R128 in Transmission and Production – Thomas Lund:

 

And don’t forget that Designing Sound dissected the loudness theme quite extensively.

This is the starting point, but in my experience if someone really go through this stuff and thoroughly understand it, then it’s only a matter of a little practice and this whole thing is a smooth sailing from a mixer’s perspective.

2 Comments

  1. Paul

    Good comments. I agree that -23.0 LUFS is too soft for webcasts, or anything that may be consumed on a portable device. I’ve been on this as well. I advocate -16.0 LUFS as the target for internet targeted audio including audio in video.

    I think it’s important to note that this type of media is often consumed in very noisy environments (autos, trains, buses, etc). The additional +2 LU (-16 LUFS vs. -18 LUFS) makes a difference.

    -Paul.

  2. Hi Paul, absolutely agree with you. At first I thought EBU thinks that the -23LUFS will be good for every purpose, but from their pdfs and videos it’s clear that they are also advocate the higher LUFS for podcasts, mobile media, etc. For me it seems that the guys at EBU really put effort into this whole loudness standard. I also applause them to make these things understandable to anyone, no undecipherable tech talks, etc.

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