'Calm Act' regulating TV commercial volume levels now in effect

By Shawn Knight ยท 29 replies
Dec 13, 2012
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  1. A nuisance that has bothered television viewers for years is now a thing of the past. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, goes into effect today. The federal law promises to regulate the volume of television commercials which,...

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  2. I'm saving the number to my phone now. That's right tv ads... after years and years of annoying me repeatedly, waking my *** up, and even scaring my dog I finally have a chance at revenge. I'll be watching quite a bit of tv during the week. We can take shifts on national channels too if anyone wants :D
  3. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,960   +218

    Great, actually a law that helps consumers for once!
    I hope they adopt this in Sweden aswell!
    hammer2085 likes this.
  4. They should really make a commercial for this phone number too (if one doesn't already exist). ;) Not alot of people will even know about it, let alone remember it.
  5. Tygerstrike

    Tygerstrike TS Enthusiast Posts: 827   +93

    With DVR and a mute button, most ppl dont even pay attention to comercials anymore. Unless they are the SuperBowl comercials. Then everyone watches those. Personally I will either mute my TV or switch over to the Xbox during a comercial. I work in retail so Im pretty much unfazed by the comercials of today. They are too loud with too much fine print. Quick blurbs of information is about all they are anymore. It used to be fun to see what new comercial would come out, especially at christmas. Im sure a few still remember the old Norelco xmas comercial. Untill we see a change in HOW comercials are presented, most ppl will continue to ignore them.
  6. Great,
    Now can we get a law like that for video streaming ads on the internet?
  7. I've read that it actually isn't that commercials are broadcast so much louder, but that TV shows keep their volumes well under the max limit in order to "volume spike" at significant moments(car chase, shoot out, etc..) to make them seem more intense. Commercials simply ran at the max limit with no deviation.

    Seems a bit silly to make a law giving that the above is the case. Why not just force stations to do away with volume spiking for effect. It would make commercials seem much more normal and the entire programming could be adjusted once; as opposed to super low volume conversation, insanely high music moment in TV, then super lower volume moment leading to super high (seeming) commercial.
  8. Vrmithrax

    Vrmithrax TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,352   +293

    Seconded! Some of those streaming add volume fluctuations can be downright maddening!
  9. 9Nails

    9Nails TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,215   +177

    Good points Guest.

    My TV does have a bit of sound compression built-in to it, not a whole lot tho. It will try to flatten the peaks and valleys in audio for a more consistent sound. Transitioning from a talk-show to a commercial with music and an announcer will even still has me reaching for the remote to give the volume two or three clicks down. I'm no audio engineer, but I think the problem is that you cannot predict the audio levels; if the compression was too heavy a jet might fly by at normal voice levels, or a whisper would sound like regular conversation.

    I had once called the cable company to see if there was anything that they could do on their end, and since only the tv programing was regulated there was nothing they could do. I suppose this gives them some control and power now.
  10. Fokissed

    Fokissed TS Rookie

  11. Yes! Also why does the video compression look better in the ads than it does for the actual content you intend to watch??
  12. Could always do away with adverts all together.

    I don't like them, I don't want to look at them and they just waste my time. I've probably spent about 400+ hours watching adverts in the course of my entire life.
  13. Scshadow

    Scshadow TS Evangelist Posts: 511   +152

    You're trolling right? Nobody is that... ummm... "unaware".
  14. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,740   +3,707

    I can honestly say advertising has never sold anything to me.
  15. Benny26

    Benny26 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,535   +51

    It would be nice if the UK adopted something like this also. I've had my fair share of diving for the remote at the start of an ad break to avoid the intense volume.

    3DCGMODELER TS Enthusiast Posts: 307   +18

    I sold my tv because I was sick of the ads and the loudness of them... one commercial blew me out of my chair pratically... thats it I unplugged and and 2 yrs later sold it..

    I netflix now..
  17. cmbjive

    cmbjive TS Booster Posts: 777   +138

    When I had TV I just fast forwarded through commercials.

    Now I only have to put with ads on Hulu Plus.

    This is a bunch of busybodism by the government. When will everyone learn that the government can't solve all of their problems...
  18. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,035   +2,558

    The trouble is, with the new digital sound technology at their disposal, TV stations can really crank up the volume without running afoul of the FCC, since DTV supports a much wider dynamic range than analog broadcast.

    Even way back when, the commercials would always blast you out of, "your silent reverie". It wasn't accomplished by turning up the volume. It was illegal to modulate the signal past 100%. So...., they slapped a compressor on the sound when the commercials were on, which placed all the sound bandwidth at 100% modulation, but no more...;)

    The compressor "limits" the signal on the high volume side, and brings up all the soft sounds to near the upper level.
  19. TJGeezer

    TJGeezer TS Enthusiast Posts: 385   +10

    I've also read that it's not the volume so much as the sound shaping that makes the commercials seem so intrusive and, therefore, loud. So it's not enough to regulate the volume alone, if the goal is to make commercials easier to live with.
  20. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,035   +2,558

    Here you should be thinking, "big EQ push" in the midrange. Human hearing is most sensitive in the vocal ranges, say from maybe 500Hz to 2000Hz. So, if you put a "hump" centered @ about 1000Hz on the equalizer, the vocals will " cut through the mix".

    "Sound shaping" is a term often associated with, (but not limited to), audio equalizers, as the sliders form rough "shapes" on the face of the device.


    If you aren't already familiar with these terms, investigate "Fletcher-Munson loudness curves", "audio equalization", "dynamic range", and "audio compression".

    Understanding how those 4 factors operate in concert, (pardon the pun), will give you the "big picture" as to what is going on with respect to perceived loudness.
  21. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,740   +3,707

    I'm trying to wrap my head around, how someone could shape a sound wave differently and yet make sure it still sounds the same. You see one of the properties of using a higher bit rate for digital recording, is to capture as many points along the analog sound wave as possible. This allows for recreating the analog sound wave as closely as possible. Changing the shape of the sound wave any at all, would therefor change the sound output.
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,035   +2,558

    You're of course, joking....?:confused:

    If not, then, (notice the computer logic statement (?), the individual "sounds" are not "shaped", but the sonic spectrum is. In other words, levels are increased or decreased at individual frequency ranges. This causes certain bands of sounds to proceed toward you, or recede from you, in the overall "sound stage", or "sound front", or "stereo image". Whichever term enables the best access to the concept for you. Another term might be, "sound perspective". Which "objects" (sounds), are in the foreground, and which "objects" (sounds), are in the background.

    The object of DSP, is A/D to D/A conversion. So, unless you have a USB port in your head, (or other places), you're an analog link in the signal chain, as were the musicians and instruments which created the music in the first place. (Although granted, "instruments" could involve pure digital methods only).

    The piano has a range of 8 octaves, but the notes in the center of the keyboard and toward the right for an octave or so, are the ones to which the human ear is the most sensitive. You know, "middle C".

    Human vocal range is basically limited to , (roughly) from C2 to C6 and that's with the very best, trained singers, and across several classifications.

    Music is a fairly complex "science" also. Not anywhere as deep as computers, but deep nonetheless.
    Wiki page on "middle C": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C_(musical_note)

    And Wiki page on full piano keyboard notes, octaves, and frequencies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_key_frequencies

    If you would check out the terms I outlined in post 20, I'm sure they would clarify the issue a bit further.
  23. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,740   +3,707

    Well the term was sound shaping and spectrum equalization never came to mind, until after both of our comments were made. If the original article did in fact label the effect as "sound shaping", I think it was a bad choice of words.
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,035   +2,558

    "Sound shaping" is granted, idiomatic expression. And also a term that would likely be more familiar to someone involved in sound reproduction at the production or mixing level.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  25. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,740   +3,707

    Which is likely why it was confusing to me as I'm not that person.

    And getting back on topic which is the fact that this (sound shaping) technique is likely used to elevate the sound output of commercials. So therefor sound shaping(aka: adjusting the amplitude of a range of sound frequencies) should be regulated against, to prevent such output elevations. If you ask me, its speech that should be the deciding factor on how loud any broadcast should be.

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