Loudness Normalisation is Coming to Radio

Veeeeery interesting!

Thanks for that @AJ113 It is VERY interesting. I’ve just been gifted a new plug in meter which tries to address the problem of dynamics versus lloudness.

I’ll be posting a review of it when I’ve had a chance to play around with it, and I’m in contact with the designers so that they can answer any queries. Folks have.

Radio historically has been a tough nut to crack in terms of loudness normalisation. In a way, it has been loudness normalised for years anyway because almost all radio stations hypercompress everything. But it looks like genuine loudness normalisation’s thin end of a wedge is set in now.

I don’t agree with the author that radio is the final frontier of loudness normalisation. I think that the elephant in the room is CD players, especially car CD players. I think there will always be a loudness tendancy in music production while CD players are not loudness normalised.

There’s an argument to be made that it won’t be long before even this dies off… I sure hope not, but the trends all seem to point that way.

Depends what you mean by ‘trend’.

Despite what the industry would like you to believe, CDs account for approximately 50% of all music sales. Admittedly that percentage is on the slide but I am certain it will bottom out, because CDs, as a physical, tangible and collectable product, are not really in competition with streaming, which accounts for most of the remaining 50%. Can you imagine standing at a merch table as an artist and being asked to autograph an iTunes stream?

Your own sentiment exemplifies this point Dave. You are saddened at thought of CDs disppearing. Do you think you are alone in this? Believe me, if people want CDs, companies will continue to sell them, that’s how business works.


As I said, I hope they don’t die off… I still buy them regularly, although nowhere near as often as I used to. Nowadays I tend to buy most stuff in digital format for ease of portability. I know, I know…! :laughing:

Kindly leave the room…


Not sure where you guys are or listening from.Alreast with television from where i am,the jumps between ad to ad,or program to program is shocking(Hence using the mute button during ad breaks,if im even watching TV…).Asuming there is audio normalization guideslines from where im listening from,they are being ignored,bypassed or dont exist anymore.It didnt always “SOUND” like this,something has changed and i imagine its to do with basics of modern marketing and being the loudest to be the best kind of approach.However,when it comes to radio which is mainly what this is about,they appear to have a better or atleast existent normalization guidelines that seem to be followed,although it may be “hyper radio compressed” and whether thats a main factor is debatable,i have a feeling it may have a larger role than others might.

So,so to speak,because of the “loudness war” or the marketing tactic of being the loudest to be the best to achieve more sales has taken a huge stinking dump all over the guidelines for television,where as the radio are using the same tactic but because it only has one dimension to it,unlike television(Although TV does compress just as much,maybe more?) its super compressing the audio to obtain the same result because it lacks the visualization side of things to rely on.

I could just see some companies paying more to broadcast networks to have a higher audio amplitude over rivals,let alone for the ad to be transmitted itself.Radio may adopt a simular concept,but because already being so compressed there is little margin to make it louder without distortion.

Honestly,watching television when its muted and seeing the type of ludacris ad concepts and ideals that are created,it truly is retarded.Television shows its true colours without audio,its relies on audio so much for the hypnotizing and addictive sensory effect its creates when mated with visualization.I suggest you try it if you havnt before,even for a short amount of time,it doesnt take long for you to see through it.

In saying this,if it wasnt clear already,i dont think they can normalize the radio transmissions anymore without getting distortion or utilizing somekind of new technology,its already normalized/compressed to the extent that it can be.Sadly,its something television needs badly considering its current state.Normalize,compress and EQ the shit out of it,then please,just drop it a few DB’s,it doesnt need to be so close to 0…



Where are you located?

This is absolutely true here in the US. Those VERY rare times I ever watch anything on commercial TV I just can’t survive without muting commercial breaks (or more accurately, fast-forwarding through them, because I always DVR anything I’ll be watching, never live). And yeah, seeing it without sound sure does point up the inanity of advertising these days. About the only thing I ever watch on commercial TV anymore is baseball, and so I’m seeing a particular type and style of ads (all my other TV watching, still rare, is either HBO or Netflix/Amazon Prime stuff, with no ads). Beer, cars, erectile dysfunction, junk food are pretty much the extent…

I remember back in the 70s when FM radio came to dominate, for some years ads were still in mono while the program material was stereo. A guy I knew in high school actually built a gizmo that could detect when that transition occurred, muting the sound when it was in mono and unmuting it when it was in stereo. Genius! Instant ad-free listening.

I thought the USA had started using loudness levels as we have in Europe - ie regulations. @AJ113

The CALM act has been law in the USA since 2012, it is illegal not to broadcast all material at -24 LKFS.

See my dissertation (section 5.1)

After its implementation complaints about inconsistencies in levels reduced dramatically, for example from 4,777 in December 2012 to 656 in December 2014.

It’s disappointing to hear your experiences Dave, the CALM act is revered globaly as a shining beacon for the cause of loudness normalization.

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Wouldn’t be the first time that corporations simply ignored regulations in this country without any meaningful consequences…

Frankly I have to wonder whether traditional TV advertising has any real future, given how rapidly on-demand viewing is growing. It is so easy to avoid seeing any commercials of any sort when watching things at home these days. I’m delighted about that! And I’m perfectly willing to pay subscription fees in order to avoid them, too. I do want the creative people to get paid somehow…


I’ve thought for a long time to chain one of my spare compressors to act as a limiter from TV to my home audio system…still too lazy to do it, I just watch video streaming services. Wonder how come no one ever invented a TV with a compressor/limiter built in.

Why not a TV with loudness normalisation built in?

That’s what I mean, on/off button on the remote or something like that. Then I’d imagine, based on media convolution, Sony will probably lose advertiser’s money more than they will gain from having that feature.

A great idea in theory, but let me relate my tale of woe…

My wife’s Ford Fiesta’s got a Sony car stereo unit, which is nice enough (though the door-mounted tweeters are a bit brash). But for some reason, when you play CDs it uses absolutely horrendous dynamic range compression with ludicrous settings so the first snare hit of any song is always a massive POP before the gain reduction kicks in, and quiet sections of songs are as loud as the climax, and if the track is too dynamic it gets really pumpy.

It only does this with CDs. No compression with radio, line in or Bluetooth.

But it’s possibly an example of how difficult it would be to set a compressor that would work with all incoming program material.

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What a horrible thing to do from a stereo :slight_smile:

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My wife’s car has compression/limiter/loudness maximizer that works in 7 steps or could be turned off. It is Mazda, which at the time was affiliated with Ford. Maybe it could be turned off.
My wife’s stereo is awful, if you can make something sound good on that you’re a God.
So far only Joe Cocker and Scorpions albums have sounded good.

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That’s why I said that loudness normalisation is the way to go, not compression or limiting. Radio historically has always had loudness normalisation of a sort, in that they all hypercompress the shite out of everything. This does level out the loudness, but it decimates the music, hence the new radio loudness normalisation incentive.

The same applies to CD players. If a CD player has limiting and compression it may work in terms of loudness normalisation but it will kill the music. Loudness normalisation isn’t difficult, the ITU BS1770 algorithm is freely available, CDs aren’t going away any time soon, so I don’t know why the CD player manufacturers don’t just do the right thing.