RTW, a leading manufacturer and distributor of professional audio metering and control devices, is pleased to announce the sale of its SurroundControl 31960SD surround sound monitoring controller to The Weather Channel (TWC), the popular U.S. television network devoted to weather-related programming. In need of a metering device that could not only help the network adapt to upcoming loudness control legislation, but also monitor surround sound as well, TWC found just what it needed in the SurroundControl 31960SD.
TWC staff members had their first glimpse of the RTW SurroundControl 31960SD at the 2009 IBC show in Amsterdam last fall, where they were hoping to find an audio meter compliant with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) BS.1770/1771 guidelines for loudness consistency. If the guidelines became mandates, and the U.S. government also issued similar legislation, the TWC team felt such a meter would put them ahead of the curve. According to Glenn Jordan, director of broadcast integration and distribution technology, The Weather Channel, RTW's SurroundControl 31960SD was the only ITU BS.1770/1771-compliant device that was ready for action--all the others they looked at were still just prototypes.
"Many of the companies we met with at IBC talked about an ITU BS.1770/1771-compliant device that was 'on its way' or 'almost completed,' but the RTW SurroundControl 31960SD was one of the first devices that was finished and ready for sale," says Jordan. "It was also the only meter we could find at the time that had a serial digital input, which we needed since most of our signals are distributed as embedded audio within a serial digital video signal. It was certainly a benefit to find a system that could do both."
Another major plus for TWC was the fact that the RTW SurroundControl 31960SD features a Dolby E and Dolby AC-3 decoder, so it can support analysis of Dolby 5.1 surround sound, which TWC is planning to implement shortly. "That is a handy feature for us," says Jordan. "Thanks to features such as that one, the 31960SD's overall level of sophistication is just much higher than other devices we've had in the past."
After having used the RTW SurroundControl 31960SD as a portable testing device in various locations around the TWC facility, TWC staff members installed it permanently in the station's technical center. Situated in the equipment area of TWC's transmission chain, which is known as the "last mile" since it's the last stop for a signal before leaving the facility, the RTW SurroundControl 31960SD verifies and validates the audio component of the signal, ensuring it is always within specification.
"The Weather Channel has had a long history of innovation in the field of television meteorology, and we are truly honored that it has chosen to make RTW metering a part of its continued success story," says Andreas Tweitmann, managing director, RTW. "As with all our products, the SurroundControl 31960SD was designed to meet the ever-changing audio metering needs of today's multiplatform production environment, and we are confident that TWC will be able to apply our product to meet those challenges, whether they arise today, tomorrow or far into the future."
RTW's SurroundControl 31960SD surround sound monitoring controller features an HD- and SD-capable SDI de-embedded interface as well as analog and digital audio inputs and outputs. The SDI interface can access all 16 (4 x 4) audio channels implemented in SDI streams and use them for both visual display and audio monitoring. All standard and SDI versions of SurroundControl 31960SD are available with a Dolby E and Dolby AC-3 decoder option.