August 14, 2019
Audio metering and monitoring can be described as the ability to determine certain characteristics of the audio signal either aurally or visually. For example loudness measurements are accumulated over a period of time and variations in the audio may be difficult for the sound mixer to detect by ear over the control room speakers, but variances obtained by a LKFS meter are obvious.
Metering and monitoring tools can be differentiated by their functions and features. As an audio mixer I am concerned about quantitative and qualitative evaluation/measurements of the sound throughout a broadcast while during the set up, the sound supervisor and EIC (engineer in charge) are more interested in a technical evaluation/measurements for signal continuity and routing.
A visual reference is an invaluable tool in a chaotic OB van because an experienced sound mixer learns how to visually associate an image or graphical reference with the sound they hear. The visual reference may alert the mixer that there is a problem that they need to address.
Equally difficult is troubleshooting the digital audio path without the tools that measure the technical aspects of a digital audio stream. I witnessed someone meter an audio signal and pass along the signal chain that the audio sounded fine without listening to the signal—seeing sound and hearing noise. In this article we will look at visual reference audio monitors for both live and post-production broadcast audio from an audio point of view.
"After trying [DynApt], I would say this feature is essential."
The audio management tools (metering, monitoring and mastering) used by a live production mixer are certainly different than the needs and tools used by a post-production sound mixer. In 2019, most live productions and post-produced audio content is produced on different types of mixing platforms. Noteworthy is that there seems to be movement toward mix surfaces that can perform virtually all audio requirements—ingest, mix, route, record and be used for both live and post-production application.
Qualitative measurements like spatial imaging and phase are significant considerations for all audio production, but conforming to broadcasters’ deliverables specifications for loudness and true peak across all mix formats is critical and mandated by law.
There are a variety of loudness tools that can be applied to an edit session to meet a content provider service’s requirements. NUGEN, a U.K.-based provider of audio monitoring tools, offers software plug-ins for monitoring, metering and mastering tools used by audio post houses for drama and factual content.
NUGEN supports native 7.1.2 and 5.1.4 audio processing and loudness parameters for advanced loudness control and dialog consistency. Its DynApt plug-in now comes standard with its Loudness Toolkit and after trying it out, I would say this feature is essential.