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Relative Importance of Speech and Non-Speech Components in Program Loudness Assessment

It is commonly assumed in broadcasting and film production that audiences determine soundtrack loudness mainly from the speech component. While intelligibility considerations support this idea indirectly, the literature is very short on direct supporting evidence. A listening test was therefore conducted to test this hypothesis. Results suggest that listeners judge loudness from overall levels rather than speech levels. A secondary trend is that listeners tend to compare like with like. Thus listeners will compare speech loudness with other speech content rather than with non-speech content, and will compare loudness of non-speech content with other non-speech content more than with speech content. A recommendation is made on applying this result for informed program loudness control.

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