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Preferred Levels for Background Ducking to Produce Esthetically Pleasing Audio for TV with Clear Speech

In audio production, background ducking facilitates speech intelligibility while allowing the background to fulfill its purpose, e.g., to create ambiance, set the mood, or convey semantic cues. Technical details for recommended ducking practices are not currently documented in the literature. This report first analyzes the common practices found in TV documentaries, and it then describes a listening test that investigated the preferences of 22 normal-hearing participants on the Loudness Difference (LD) between commentary and background during ducking. Highly personal preferences were observed, highlighting the importance of object-based personalization. Statistically significant difference was found between nonexpert and expert listeners. On average, nonexperts preferred LDs that were 4 LU higher than the ones preferred by experts. A statistically significant difference was also found between Commentary over Music (CoM) and Commentary over Ambiance (CoA). Based on the test results, the authors recommend at least 10 LU difference for CoM and at least 15 LU for CoA. Moreover, a computational method based on the Binaural Distortion-Weighted Glimpse Proportion (BiDWGP) was found to match the median preferred LD for each item with good accuracy.

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JAES Volume 67 Issue 12 pp. 1003-1011; December 2019
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AES - Audio Engineering Society