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Loudness discussions turn to radio and music

Kevin Hilton 5 December 2012
Loudness discussions turn to radio and music

Loudness has dominated audio for television discussions over the last two years but now attention is beginning to shift to radio and music recording. These areas will be discussed at the Loudness Summit at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London on Friday, which follows a meeting of the EBU’s PLOUD group at the beginning of this week. The second Loudness Summit is again chaired by Florian Camerer (pictured), the senior ORF sound engineer who also fronted PLOUD during the drafting of the R128 standard. Among the speakers and subjects at the event are: Andrew Mason of BBC R&D looking at the European R128 and US A/85 standards; Thomas Lund, HD development manager at TC Electronic talking about Loudness Normalisation for Music, iPods and Mobile TV; and Challenges in Implementing Loudness by MC Patel, chief executive of Emotion Systems. There will also be a session on loudness normalisation in radio, a subject also discussed during the PLOUD meeting in Vienna on 3 to 4 December. An EBU spokesman commented that there are "multiple issues" regarding loudness in radio, including: analogue (FM) and digital (DAB) transmission; production and distribution; operation by technical staff and non-technical staff such as journalists; and wide dynamic ranges used by classical music stations alongside the heavily compressed output of pop services. The spokesman said that while the EBU does not have a specific recommendation for radio, a sub-group has been created for this area with the aim to "answer the radio question with more guidance". The PLOUD meeting also addressed the subjects of avoiding producing low quality audio through the misuse of loudness processors, applying R128 to the music and online worlds and the third version of ITU-R BS 1770, the standard that forms the basis of R128 and other international loudness standards. BS 1770-3 was published in August this year to incorporate changes including settling uncertainty over the implementation of the true-peak metering algorithm and the removal of both the optional DC blocking filter and optional pre-emphasis.

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