Independent Media Distribution (IMD) has installed a DK-Technologies MSD600M++ with an SDI de-embedder card, which is being using as part of a suite of tools to help monitor and control the loudness value of television audio.
Founded in 1997, IMD is now the leading distributor of broadcast quality audio to the UK and Ireland's commercial radio stations. It also offers a broadcast quality digital distribution service to the TV industry, providing an efficient and cost effective route through which commercials and programming can be sent to broadcasters ready for immediate broadcast. IMD maintains its own telecoms network, which enables it to deliver to over 220 national and regional radio stations and over 70 TV stations.
In recent months, IMD has developed a custom delivery system that performs a quality control check on the soundtrack of advertisements to ensure they fall within the guidelines set by the Broadcast Committee on Advertising Standards (BCAP). These guidelines, which were introduced in July 2008, relate to the audio levels of television advertisements and are designed to stop overly loud commercials from becoming an irritation to television viewers.
BCAP’s guidelines recommend the use of loudness meters that incorporate International Telecommunications Union (ITU) specified algorithms to measure loudness – something that traditional PPM and VU meters are incapable of doing.
DK-Technologies MSD600M++ meter incorporates DK-Technologies’ Loudness software, which was developed in response to requests from key broadcasters and production houses such as SKY, ITV, the BBC and RAI in Italy. This is based on ITU Recommendations BS.1770 and BS.1771, which specify the algorithms that should be used to measure audio programme loudness. The meter can also provide external logging to a PC.
IMD has added an SDI de-embedder option because the majority of the audio it receives from post production facilities is only available in an embedded format and the company wanted to be able to measure it without having to go through external converters.
John Bolton, technical director of IMD, says: “We have been working closely with broadcasters and post production facilities to implement the new UK loudness standard for TV and, as a result, we have been very much involved in creating loudness values for commercials that fit within the BCAP guidelines.
“As part of this process we needed an audio meter that would enable us to measure loudness in line with the ITU specifications. We chose DK-Technologies MSD600M++ because it complied with these specifications and we therefore felt it was the ideal benchmark meter.”
DK-Technologies Loudness software provides accurate loudness matching of audio from a number of different sources and offers a selection of working modes, including Fast mode for real time viewing of loudness, Integrated mode for measuring the loudness of a recorded section or the complete recording and Gated mode for viewing loudness of audio material with long pauses (e.g. golf tournaments).
With selectable digital and analogue stereo inputs, the MSD600M++ displays left and right channel loudness as well as the summed loudness. It also delivers the information as a numeric readout. The meter uses the Loudness Units (LU) scale, covering a range from -18db to +9dB. It also features an audio vector oscilloscope, phase correlation meter displays, a full VGA colour display and VGA output for external display. Available in a variety of languages, it can be delivered with different scales to suit different broadcasters, while still maintaining the consistent loudness measurement as set out by the ITU.
Bolton adds: “Our MSD600M++ meter is performing very well. Initially, it was used by our developer during the development of the IMD ITU loudness algorithm that we have incorporated into our lights out automation for TV audio. Having completed that project, the meter is now being used as part of our suite of tools to make sure we provide material to the exacting standards that the broadcasters demand. The meter provides a first class way to confirm that our algorithm performs correctly and we are looking forward to a proposed upgrade that will allow for loudness and PPM to be simultaneously displayed on the same screen, as this will be useful for us.”