In this video review, I take a look at this Junger/Flux Loudness Management Plug-in developed from Junger's hardware solutions. Watch and see how Mike gets on with it and listen as he tries some tricky audio through it. If you are BVE then make sure you drop by the Aspen Media stand G30 to see the Junger products for yourself and maybe win a Fitbit Charge HR heart rate and fitness wristband.
Came From Hardware
The Level Magic algorithm has been in a number of Junger hardware units. The first generation were not capable of working with the international loudness recommendations, as they were released before the loudness standards were established. But all current Junger hardware units now have the Level Magic II algorithm in them.
Bring On The Plug-in
Now with the help of Flux Sound & Picture Development, Junger's Level Magic algorithm has now been integrated into a plug-in that supports all the major loudness delivery specs that are based on the ITU-R BS.1770 standard like EBU R128, ATSC A/85, ARIB TR-B32, FREE TV OP-59 and Portaria 354.
What Is Level Magic?
The Level Magic algorithm has designed to be adaptive to the structure of the incoming audio and is designed to require only a small number of parameters to be set by the user. The result is audio compliant with the selected standard and should be free of any unwanted artefacts such as pumping, breathing or distortion.
Junger’s Level Magic utilises a proprietary 'multi-loop' approach made up of three gain changing elements in parallel to measure, and if necessary correct, out of specification audio.
An AGC section controls slower changing levels over time whilst a transient processor catches inaudible high frequency overshoots that may otherwise cause detrimental effects in downstream processing or coding. Next a brickwall filter provides True Peak limiting using a 2ms look-ahead to capture any intersample peaks.
The loudness based leveller section is basically an automated console master fader driven by a so called “sliding analysis window” which gathers loudness data of the current incoming program. This is designed to mimic the the old fashioning manual fader riding, which with a human brain and ears is a very intelligent system. This analysis window in the automated loudness based leveller “slides” over the program and permanently compares the input loudness with the desired target loudness and generates the control signal for the master control stage. Finally this control information is used to control the master level stage to keep the output “on target” while permanently adopting time based parameters like attack or release to the content (adaptive processing).
Do We Need A Loudness Management System?
Now I have to say the idea of an automated loudness management system doesn’t sit well with me as the whole idea is that with a calibrated monitoring system and a good pair of ears it is perfectly possible to mix very close to target loudness. I do it every week with the Pro Tools Expert podcast.
However because they are using loudness data to manage the algorithm rather than instantaneous RMS based data they are in a fighting chance of making a loudness management system that isn't going to sound like a crappy AGC setting on a portable recorder.
What Did I Find?
In the experiments I have undertaken it can be configured to be remarkably transparent. Like all processors, you can over do it, but I can see a use for this plug-in especially in fast turnaround workflows like news where the pressure for continuous 24 hour output means there isn't the time to massage the audio as much as we might like. Also with more and more multi-skilling with content being captured, edited, and broadcast without it passing through the hands and ears of an audio specialist, a product like this would be very helpful to make sure that content from these kind of workflows sounds the best it can.
In terms of shortcomings and potential improvements I would like the Pause feature linked to the DAW transport like the Nugen Vis-LM does. In addition if you interrogate a menu when clicking outside of the menu it doesn’t dismiss the menu instead you have to click on the selected parameter to dismiss it. i would prefer just to be able to click away to dismiss the menu.
Finally I would like to see some new presets which are targeted at post production rather than simply taken from the Junger hardware units. But all in all it is a very good start but needs a little more work as a plug-in.