Three Compliance Metering Plug-ins

Apr 1, 2013 9:00 AM, Mix, By Brandon Hickey

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Waves WLM

Waves WLM

Waves WLM

The Waves Loudness Meter is one of the latecomers to the game of loudness metering, and because of that it seems that Waves was able to sit back and learn from the successes and failures of its predecessors. The WLM complies with ITU-R BS.1770, A/85, R.128, and even the TASA leq(M) standard for cinema trailers, which considers frequency-dependent audience “annoyance” levels. The loudness measurement throughout the WLM can be toggled between reading the whole program average, or it can automatically detect when dialog is present and only measure then. It can also measure using the EBU-style gating function that meters only when audio breaks a certain threshold.

The best thing about this meter, though, is its clarity and simplicity. Three large boxes across the top show short-term loudness, long-term loudness and loudness range. Giant numbers are displayed with no decimals, and then smaller versions with a single decimal are displayed dimly, and below. When loudness hits the target value, a graphic target with a checkmark appears. This couldn’t be clearer or easier to read. Just below these value boxes are a pair of horizontal bar-graph meters displaying momentary level and true peak level. Each meter has a peak reading displayed to the right of it. These bar graphs are color-coded to indicate when audio is in the optimal range, when it goes over and when it falls below. Counters indicating the number of overs and unders reside just above these meters. They used a clever trick to log the time of these occurrences without even having to check the log file. The WLM plug-in can write a layer of automation that stays at 50 percent when the audio is in the optimal range, but jumps to 100 percent when an over occurs, and 0 percent when an under occurs. It imparts no sound, but merely allows a quick visual reference.

Below the metering is a box containing all of the user-configurable options. Here, the buttons to toggle between whole program (LM1) or just dialog portions of the program are available. The meter’s weighting is manually selectable between ITU-R BS.1770-2, leq(A), leq(B), leq(C) and leq(M). The target loudness can be adjusted, and not only will this change when the target symbol registers in the long-term loudness box, but it will slide a green arrow marker along the momentary loudness meter. The resolution and units of the momentary meter can also be user-adjusted, and will change relative to the weighting curve, as well. Changing the short-term minimum and maximum values will slide where the color-coded over and under areas on the momentary meter exist, and will also change the point at which overs and unders will register. Adjusting the “True Peak Max” will display a red zone on the True Peak meter, displaying overs on that scale.

Other settings include a drop-down menu that gives the ability to change between metering all the channels, any individual channel, or just the L, C, and R, or L and R. Also, a manual equalization curve can be used before the selected weighting curve. I would love it if this settings box could collapse into the plug-in and be shown only when needed. Not only does it eat up a good chunk of screen space, but it is also somewhat distracting from the otherwise streamlined look.

The logging on the WLM is very thorough. Either a real-time log can be initialized, where generation will begin from then on, or an offline log can be generated, which is useful when working with the AudioSuite version. I was able to open the log file with Numbers without any hassles. There were 13 columns of information showing times, average levels, peak levels, warnings and other pertinent information. A new row is generated every second, at which time all of these values are calculated. With the log file open while the meter was running, however, the file didn’t update in real time. I had to close the file, and open it back up to see the latest information. This wasn’t surprising, as I don’t see how the plug-in could “talk” to the spreadsheet software, but it’s something that should be noted.

Altogether, this plug-in is slick-looking, easy to read and gets the job done. Logging operation is smooth, without ever hiccuping, and CPU usage is minimal, and it contributes no delay when being used. Syncing to the Pro Tools transport provides a similar experience to the LM6, where reading will pause and play along with Pro Tools, but resetting is strictly manual. The WLM will support measurement of mono, stereo or 5.1 audio.

PRODUCT SUMMARY
Company:
Waves

Product: WLM Loudness Meter

Website: waves.com

Price: $240

Pros: Clear, simple reference. Great logging.

Cons: Not as much visual information provided as LM6.






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