KNOXVILLE, TN, February 23, 2012 — Having relied on industry standard hardware loudness metering for many years, engineers in the two M3 (Music Mix Mobile) remote trucks at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards telecast, broadcast live from L.A.’s Staples Center in 5.1 audio on CBS-TV on the evening of February 12, 2012, made the switch to the WLM (Waves Loudness Meter) plugin from Waves Audio, the industry-leading developer of professional audio digital signal processing technologies. The move for the first time enabled all essential 5.1 and stereo metering to be displayed directly in line-of-sight with the broadcast monitor screen, providing the music mixer with visual feedback at a glance without having to move his head from the soundfield to look at a rack-mounted unit.
The previous setup, which required the music mixer to look in two different directions in order to take in all the metering, was less than satisfactory, according to Joel Singer, Engineer-in-Charge at M3, a New Jersey/California-based remote facilities company. “Visually it didn’t work with the eye too well. We were able to utilize the WLM and its greater visibility and functionality on our front monitoring system for this show. The new set-up worked out perfectly,” he says.
“We set it up for an ATSC A/85 standard measuring all the channels using the ITU-R BS.1770 spec,” Singer continues. “We have one screen inside the truck dedicated to metering only coming off the Pro Tools mixer system. We’re now able to set up 5.1 and LtRt Durrough meters, we’re able to set up a WLM loudness meter, and we can also see a main bus compressor all the time. The engineer can just look up from the console and see the program in front of him on the 46-inch LED screen, he can look to his right and see all the meters, he can look at previews to his left, and he stays in the zone the entire time. There’s no reason that he has to look for a 1U rack-mount with a little meter giving him numbers.”
The WLM plug-in, which features mono, stereo and 5.1 components, is fully compliant with all current ITU, EBU and ATSC metering specifications and offers comprehensive readout options, including Momentary, Short Term, Long Term and True Peak. Measurements may be selected for foreground, dialog and average loudness, while an intelligent dialog sensor detects and measures speech.
Accurate, visible loudness metering is essential for the mixers to be able to create a dynamic show for the GRAMMY Award show’s broadcaster, CBS, explains Singer. “We want the quiet passages to have the same dynamics as the loud passages. We’re trying to create a very even and properly executed show based on the CBS spec. After a lot of testing and working with Waves on the WLM we decided that this was the year we were going to deploy it.”
The streamlined metering display allowed Singer to also keep an eye on levels and consult with John Harris and Eric Schilling, the GRAMMY Award Show Broadcast Music Mixers, as they moved between M3’s Eclipse live music mix truck and its Horizon offline remix counterpart, where the mix created during show rehearsals was fine-tuned prior to the broadcast. “When they went into remix they could use this metering on more of a constant basis, because then they were not under the gun,” explains Singer. “They were just focused on the remix and could get the level dialed in to where they wanted it.”
Although the Waves WLM was deployed for the first time by M3 at the GRAMMYs, the developer’s plugins are a staple on the trucks. “Waves software was very integrated into the show,” says Singer. “On the Springsteen part of the show, his engineer, Bob Clearmountain, asked if we could put a Waves 5.1 SSL bus compressor on the main output to give it that little pop that he wanted. We used a couple of other Waves plugs that we’ve always used from the SSL 4000 and V-Series collections, and the Chris Lord-Alge CLA-76 Compressor. Chris happened to visit the truck and he saw that we were using all sorts of plug-ins that were part of the signature bundle that he created with Waves.”
For more information, please visit www.waves.com.