Meeting the Demands Of The Market


Much has been said about audio loudness and there can be few people in broadcast who are unaware of the new legislation being introduced by various countries to control this problem. The UK and Italy have already set limits on loudness levels and in 2010 the US introduced the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM), making it illegal to broadcast commercials at louder sound volumes than TV programmes. The law is enforced by the US Federal Communications Commission using guidelines published by the ATSC. US broadcasters have a year to comply or face financial penalties.
This focus on loudness has resulted in new equipment that can either meter the output of an audio signal or automatically control loudness when the agreed parameters are exceeded. A crucial element of the forthcoming requirements is the need to log all content with reference to loudness and peak levels so that broadcasters can show how their audio levels are performing.
As a company that has been manufacturing high quality metering products for many years, DK-Technologies was among the first to adopt the ITU’s loudness recommendation 1770/1771, the ATSC’s A/85 recommendation and, more recently, the EBU’s R128 recommendation. Our audio metering products comply with all these recommendations and are popular with major broadcasters around the world.
So why has DK introduced a new metering product when it already has established products available? The answer is simple – we were responding to the needs of the market.
Imagine that you are a major broadcaster with over 100 audio channels to manage. You have to meter every channel to ensure you are staying within the law, and that means buying in excess of 100 audio meters. Given that most of the meters on the market that can do the job properly costs approximately $5,000, your investment will be at least $500,000. When broadcasters realised the cost of complying with this new legislation they threw their hands up in horror, and who can blame them?
Knowing our reputation for reliable and accurate meters, a number of broadcasters came to us and asked if we could provide a solution that wouldn’t break the bank.
Back in 2010, our R&D team in Denmark, led by DK’s founder and CEO Karsten Hansen, began working towards a solution. The first thing we recognised was that controlling audio loudness shouldn’t be left to the very last point in the broadcast chain because putting right compliance issues at that stage was likely to be more complicated and expensive as well as detrimental to the audio. Instead, broadcasters – and production facilities creating programming – should be checking audio levels much earlier in the process and correcting any level that falls foul of the new laws. This meant creating a meter that was not only cost effective but also portable enough to go out on location and check audio as it was actually recorded. Given that some of the people using this new meter were likely to be journalists rather than audio engineers, it also had to be easy to use – and dovetail seamlessly with larger metering set ups already in place in post production facilities and broadcast transmission centres.
It took less than six months to demonstrate our solution – the new DK Meter. This was shown in prototype at NAB where it went down a storm. Customers are already placing orders and although we won’t ship until July we already have a very full pre-order book. To cope with demand we are establishing a new route to market for the DK Meter by making it available directly from our website as well as from our dealer network.
The DK Meter fulfils all the requirements that our R&D team set out to achieve. No bigger than a smart phone, this Compact Audio Loudness Meter (CALM) comes in two versions – the stereo DK1 and the 5.1 surround sound DK2.
We have made both versions easy to use and easy to install. They can be poweredfrom a computer USB port, making them ideal for location recording, or they can be desk mounted. Both versions accept digital audio inputs and are supplied with all known loudness measurement recommendations, as well as the standard DK-Technologies meter scales. They also provide graphical representation of loudness over time and offer fully adjustable parameters including Gate Level, Reference Level and window timing. They use the same software as our existing products so there are no technical issues when switching between a DK Meter and one of the larger meters in our range (for example the PT0700 series, which provides facilities for loudness logging). What’s more, this meter can be updated to accommodate any new standards that might be introduced in the future.
Feedback from customers has been incredibly positive. They love the features, the build quality and the modern, ergonomic design. But most of all they love the price, which is $1295.00 in the US and €995.00 in Europe. The DK Meter strengthens our already comprehensive meter range and allows people to use audio meters much earlier in the production process and maintain continuity throughout.
The new DK meter
The new DK meter

Tags: DK-Technologies | iss054 | loudness | calm | bs1770 | r128 | ebu | audio metering | dk1 | dk2 | loudness meter | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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