There is a wide range of Loudness meters out there now, so many we have had to split them across 3 articles. As we have loudness normalisation coming into more and more workflows, not just broadcast audio but music streaming services too, we thought it would be helpful to provide a round-up of the different players that are now available. We know it is not completely exhaustive but it covers the main players in the loudness meter plug-in sector. In the first of our 3 part series on Overview - Loudness Metering Plug-ins And Resources we look at the Nugen Audio VisLM 2, TC Electronic LM2n and LM6n, Waves WLM Plus and the free HOF 4U Suite which includes a loudness meter.
What Is Loudness?
But before we go product-specific, I wanted to highlight my series on loudness workflow principles Understanding Loudness, which I created to help people understand the loudness workflows in audio post production.
Around the world especially in the broadcast audio sector, there has been a change taking place from working to peak audio levels and normalising to peak level to measuring and normalising to the new loudness specifications.
In just over 1 hour I aim to help you understand how the loudness standards affect you and the clients you work for. I have been delivering loudness training courses to broadcasters in the UK, Europe and further afield and with this tutorial series, you too can benefit from my expertise in 5 lessons.
Who is this course for?
Anyone working with the new loudness workflows and needing to produce content to be compliant with the new loudness delivery specifications like ATSC A/85 for the US and Canada and EBU R128 for Europe. This can be live audio mixers, audio post production editors and mixers, compliance teams, video editors, anyone working in the delivery of broadcast content.
What does the course cover?
In this series, I cover the history of metering, how the new loudness standard has been developed and that the different delivery specifications around the world are all based on that one standard. We show how to calibrate your monitor speakers, which is an essential part of mixing to loudness, before moving onto some tips and tricks on how to mix to comply with the new loudness standard and delivery specifications.
Nugen Audio VisLM 2
The Nugen Audio Vis LM 2 has a scrolling history, presets for all the common standards (and some of the less well-known ones too). It writes automation data, so you can see where there are problems in your project from the Pro Tools timeline. The Nugen Audio VisLM2 loudness meter.
What’s New In Nugen Audio’s VisLM2?
- A Timecode and Loudness Profile Memory Function that tracks and retains the timecode and loudness profile so that the overall loudness measurement can be updated automatically at any time. This profile can be saved with the session, and re-measuring and rebooting delays are eliminated.
- ReMEM(TM) Rewritable Memory Edit Mode allows program loudness over-dubbing for enhanced workflow efficiency. This memorises the program loudness profile so that only changes need to be measured. The changes are then integrated automatically and intelligently with the memorised loudness profile to provide accurate program loudness readings on the fly.
- New zoomable and scrollable history and log file capabilities that allow detailed inspection of the entire file history using customizable parameters. A text file summary can also be created.
- A fully re-sizable and configurable interface that is now completely adjustable to show exactly what is required with unsurpassed clarity, maximising precious screen real-estate.
This is my preferred loudness meter, it does everything I need it to do, I like the way it displays the data and that I can colour it and resize the window to suit my screen real-estate.
The Rewritable Memory Edit Mode is absolutely amazing. It enables me to make small corrections to a mix and not have to re-analyze the whole programme. I also love the way I can resize the window and all the additional options they have added to the plug-in.
For people working in film production and especially trailers, Nugen Audio have now included the Leq measurement that is included in the trailer delivery spec for specifying loudness of film trailers.
Using Nugen VisLM In Audio Post Production Workflows
This is a video tutorial I made back in 2012, in which I show how I use the original NUgen Audio VisLM Loudness meter in my audio post production workflow.
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TC Electronic LM1n, LM2n & LM6n
The LM1n is the baby of the range and we will cover this in part 3 of this series. The LM2n and LM6n are almost identical. In fact, there are only two things that set them apart: channel format compatibility and logging. The LM2n measures any mono or stereo signal while LM6n supports mono, stereo and 5.1 surround, but they both use a clever radar display for the loudness history.
The LM6n also features detailed logging for documenting delivery specs in accordance with major broadcast standards, which is key when producing content for broadcast.
The new LM2n and LM6n meters retain the radar view from their predecessors and offer a number of new features such as dedicated settings for Max Momentary (M) or Max Short Term (S) Loudness display as well as offering a ‘Big’ version of the Radar, which is very useful when working at a distance from the screen.
Understanding TC Electronic LM2n and LM6n Metering Plug-ins
In this video tutorial, I cover how to use the TC Electronic LM2n and LM6n plug-in loudness meters although I will be using the LM6n as the two plug-ins are so similar, but I do make it clear when a feature is only available on the LM6n. Although there a number of loudness meters that include a histogram feature that displays loudness history, the radar display interface is unique to TC Electronic loudness meters so I spend some time exploring how to read and interpret it, as it folds back on itself so that you get a continuous display of the loudness history, which is also relevant to anyone using hardware meters with the TC Electronic radar display option fitted like the TouchMonitor.
Waves WLM Meter Plus
The Waves WLM Plus is a popular loudness meter that covers many bases although it doesn’t have any histogram display. The upside of this is that the plug-in’s GUI takes up less screen real estate.
In this video review, I take a look at the Waves WLM Plus Loudness meter that adds a True Peak Limiter and a Trim option, to their WLM loudness meter.
The Waves WLM Plus Loudness Meter plug-in provides loudness measurement, metering, correction and adjustment tools for broadcast, movie trailers, games, packaged media and more. Fully compliant with all current ITU, EBU and ATSC specifications, the WLM Plus offers Momentary, Short Term, Long Term and True Peak readouts, as well as a warning and logging system that keeps track of your levels, alerting you when you’ve exceeded them - or fallen short.
WLM Plus also features Gain and Trim controls for correction of loudness levels and a True Peak Limiter, which can save you needing to utilise additional equipment or software.
- ITU 1770-3, EBU and ATSC compliant
- Foreground, dialogue, and average loudness measurements
- Momentary, Short Term and Long Term readouts
- Gain and Trim controls for loudness normalisation and correction
- True Peak meter and True Peak limiterMono, stereo, and 5.0, 5.1 components
Waves WLM Plus Tutorial - How To Use Waves WLM Plus In An Audio Post Production Workflow
In this tutorial video, from our premium video platform, Mike shows how you can use Waves WLM Plus to get your broadcast mixes loudness-compliant to the appropriate BS1770 loudness delivery spec like EBU R128 or ATSC A/85.
HOFA 4U Suite
The HOFA plug-in is part of their free 4U Suite, so nothing is going to beat this one on price. Although you can only have one loudness meter in an instance of the plug-in, there is nothing stopping having 3 instances; one with the Integrated, a second with Short Term and a third displaying Momentary. Like the Avid Pro Limiter, it only displays the EBU R128 scale so it is great for UK and Europe and any other territory that adopts the R128 standard. But it is still a useful guide for any other territory as the various versions of the standards are very close to each other. This free plug-in suite alos has much going for it....
- Precise metering (peak, hold, EBU, LRA)
- MS decoder - use this and then use conventional plug-ins to process using MS.
- Trim, fader and mute function
- Stereo-mono switch - use this on a Master fader to check your mono compatibility. A feature rarely found in a free plug-in
- Analyse peak & EBU R128 levels via drag and drop of audio files
- Innovative panorama-function: this is the panner that you can also use for “more than stereo” panning
- Changeable plug-in window size - getting a little more common but very rare on free plug-ins.
- PC and Mac, 32 and 64 Bit DAWs.
Loudness Metering Plug-ins And Resources - Part 2
In part 2 of our series, Loudness Metering Plug-ins And Resources we will be looking at the iZotope Insight, Avid Pro Limiter with built in loudness metering, zplane PPMulator Plus, which includes loudness metering and finishes with RTW Loudness Tools.