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Loudness, CALM and Compressors

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John StanowskiLoudness, CALM and Compressors
by on Mar 24, 2014 at 12:13:39 am

Newbie question.

I'm not an audio person at all. But I edit a lot of TV spots. When the CALM thing came around, one of the things I did to cope was to eliminate the use of compressors on spot VO's completely. Then I just limped through it with my new Wave Audio LKFS meter. But now I'm finally starting to look into the CALM thing more.

I was wondering, Would a voiceover ran through a compressor and then lowered in volume still sound better than a voiceover which wasn't run through a compressor and not lowered in volumne as much?

I'm going to try this and compare, but I don't trust my own ears. I'd rather have pros chime in. Thanks!

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Paul FiggianiRe: Loudness, CALM and Compressors
by on Mar 24, 2014 at 1:10:06 pm

John,

In my opinion VO Dynamics Compression and Loudness Normalization relative to the CALM Act and ITU/EBU/ATSC specs. should always be handled independently. Just to be clear I'm not referring to the common Peak Normalization process that most people are familiar with.

You should be careful when using a compressor as a sort of loudness maximizer. If you push the compressor too hard you will be dealing with exaggerated breaths and a very noticeable boost to the audible noise floor.

Use your compressor to tame/manipulate the dynamics of the VO. Then deal with meeting your loudness spec. In most cases this will be nothing more than tweaking the gain of the processed audio. In fact if you have the latest version of the Waves meter - the gain compensation feature is built into it. If you need to increase the gain, just make sure you adhere to the True Peak level in your spec. Again, your meter will handle this with it's built in True Peak limiter.

Bottom line - handle dynamics, apply what ever else you need (EQ, noise reduction, etc) - then address loudness. The processing techniques are almost always subjective. It all depends on the condition of the source and the loudness spec. that you are shooting for.

-paul.


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John StanowskiRe: Loudness, CALM and Compressors
by on Mar 25, 2014 at 1:22:00 am

Wow, thanks for taking the time to write that out. I haven't even been taking care of many of the things you brought up. I've just been scraping by, but knowing the whole time that my audio could be better. I'm going to look up each point you made one by one. Thanks!

2009 Intel MacPro
8 cores
16gig ram
Snow Leopard (up-to-date)
Adobe Master Collection CS4 & CS5


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