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Intelligent Program Loudness Measurement and Control: What Satisfies Listeners?

The broadcast, satellite and cable television industries have been plagued for years by the inability of personnel to accurately interpret and thus consistently control program loudness utilizing traditional measurement devices and methods. As a result, most listeners feel compelled to make adjustments to their television volume controls (in the home). A recent survey of channel-to-channel and/or program-to-program level discrepancies and subjective listening tests confirms that current the practice is unacceptable to listeners. In this paper we describe loudness measurement techniques that improve accuracy, usability, and consistency relative to previous techniques. Accuracy in this application is determined by correlation to listener opinion, with the particular goal of minimizing annoyance resulting from level mismatch. Usability is improved by minimizing the interaction required by the user. Consistency is achieved by minimizing the amount of meter interpretation required. The keys to this method are: providing a single numeric indication of loudness for a given program or segment; and isolating and measuring the portions of the program that are primarily speech, and using speech loudness as the basis for overall program level thereby improving listener satisfaction.

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