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DRACULA: A Dynamic Range Audio Controller with Unobtrusive Level Adjustment

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It is often necessary to reduce the dynamic range of musical programmes, particularly those comprising orchestral and choral music, for them to be received satisfactorily by listeners to conventional FM and AM broadcasts. With the arrival of DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) a much wider dynamic range will become available for radio broadcasting, although some listeners may prefer to have a signal with a reduced dynamic range. This paper describes a digital processor developed by the BBC to control the dynamic range of musical programmes in a manner similar to that of a trained Studio Manager. It has been used by BBC Television to reduce the dynamic range of recorded music programmes, during post-production. It may be used prior to transmission in conventional broadcasting, replacing limiters or other compression equipment. In DAB, it offers the possibility of providing a dynamic range control signal to be sent to the receiver via an ancillary data channel, simultaneously with the uncompressed audio, giving the listener the option of the full dynamic range or a reduced dynamic range.

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