Jünger Audio’s Level Magic Helps MPEG-H TV Broadcasters Comply with Loudness Standards

Jünger Audio, a provider of loudness control and audio processing technology for television broadcasting, and Fraunhofer IIS have jointly developed a prototype multi-channel monitoring, authoring and loudness processor for the new MPEG-H TV audio system, based on Jünger Audio’s Level Magic loudness software.

Both companies said Jünger’s file-based audio processing technology, in combination with Fraunhofer's specialized audio compression algorithms, allows broadcasters using the MPEG-H system to maintain compliance with loudness regulations while avoiding the processing artifacts of traditional loudness control approaches.

This new automatic selective loudness control feature (“Level Magic”) is integrated into an MPEG-H Audio Monitoring and Authoring Unit produced by Jünger Audio in collaboration with Fraunhofer IIS. It was demonstrated at the recent ATSC 3.0 audio demonstration event held in Atlanta in July. MPEG-H is a group of standards under development by the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) for a digital container standard, a video compression standard, an audio compression standard and two conformance-testing standards.

Since U.S. broadcasters became subject to sanctions for loud advertisements under the federal CALM Act, many TV networks, local stations, and cable or satellite operators adopted loudness processing as a precautionary measure. The most commonly used technologies required re-processing the content at each point in the signal chain, resulting in a loss of dynamic range not only in commercials but also in programming. As a result, the overall quality of the broadcast audio can be diminished.

In the new MPEG-H system, content may be tagged to indicate it has already been processed or levelled for proper loudness control. This allows for managed loudness processing where loudness control is only engaged on unprocessed content, avoiding the degradation of multiple leveling passes. This happens in real time as the content is broadcast.

Robert Bleidt, Division General Manager at Fraunhofer USA, said the Junger technology would allow broadcasters to offer better audio quality while satisfying their viewer’s desire for consistent loudness.

“It is an example of how working with an open standard such as MPEG-H allows rapid innovation,” he said, adding that one application they see for this processing technology is control of loudness at network affiliates. “The network signal may be levelled prior to distribution, and not touched by the Jünger Audio processing. Only the local ads and programming inserted by the affiliate will be processed, preventing double compression of the audio.”

“When we started to develop our multi-channel monitoring and authoring unit for use with the proposed new immersive audio formats, we knew that effective loudness control was going to be a vital requirement right from the beginning to ensure maximum audio quality and loudness that is consistent and compliant with existing regulations and recommendations,” said Peter Poers, Managing Director of Jünger Audio GmbH. “Our years of experience in developing the Level Magic loudness management algorithm meant that we were perfectly placed to provide high performance technology allowing broadcasters to transition to the new emerging audio formats with confidence and minimal workflow changes, whilst ensuring that end users benefit from the enhanced listening experience with predictable and reliable results.”

Jünger Audio Level Magic loudness processing is now used to protect the levels of more than 23,000 channels worldwide. Designed to be audibly transparent, the algorithm is highly adaptive to the structure of the incoming audio and requires only a small number of parameters to be set by the user. The result is audio compliant with the selected standard but free of any unwanted artifacts such as pumping, breathing or distortion.

Fraunhofer IIS is based in Erlangen, Germany and is a division of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Jünger Audio is headquartered in Berlin.

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