The recent announcement by the EBU that German public and commercial TV broadcasters are harmonizing on the R128 Loudness recommendation for their audio levels has come as no surprise to dynamics processing manufacturer Junger Audio, which already supplies EBU R128-compliant loudness processing equipment to all of the major players in the German market.

Junger Audio’s CEO Peter Pors says: “Our frame-based C8000 audio loudness control system and our new T*AP TV Audio processors have been installed in numerous broadcast facilities throughout Germany, Switzerland and France. The reason we have gained so much traction in these markets is because broadcasters have recognised the benefit of using our proprietary LEVEL MAGIC adaptive control algorithm, which is incorporated into all our loudness products.  

“Broadcasters like the fact that LEVEL MAGIC can adjust the audio level from any source at any time, with no pumping, breathing or distortion. As a result it has become the algorithm of choice for line and real time processing nationwide, particularly amongst German public broadcasters such as ARD and ZDF who are actively involved with the EBU.”

Junger Audio’s LEVEL MAGIC algorithm is based on a simultaneous combination of an AGC, a Transient Processor for fast changes and a “look ahead” Peak Limiter for continuous unattended control of any programme material, regardless of its original source. Capable of using any kind of I/O (Analog and Digital) sources, as well as SDI, HD/SDI, Dolby 5.1 and all its related metadata, LEVEL MAGIC is available in a variety of configurations to suit different applications. It complies with ITU, EBU and ATSC Loudness standards.

ARD has installed a Junger Audio C8000 system with LEVEL MAGIC and Dolby to handle the playout for all of its transmission channels distributed via the Star Point in Frankfurt. Eurovision distribution is managed there as well. The system is linked to the automation system to ensure maximum flexibility in audio control and to guarantee proper Dolby encoding under all circumstances. ARD is also using Junger Audio equipment for its DVB playout and all satellite channels for MPEG audio, as well as for the AC-3 stream. Regional public programming has installed the new T*AP TV audio processors to fulfil this function.

ZDF has installed a C8000 system with LEVEL MAGIC and Dolby AC-3 encoding for playout of its transmission channels and for 3SAT, a German speaking channel reaching audiences in Austria, Switzerland and Germany that is cooperatively run by the public broadcasters in each country.

Other broadcasters that have chosen Junger Audio equipment for loudness control include the German/French broadcaster ARTE and Astra Playout Services in Munich. Pro7/Sat 1 is using a C8000 system with LEVEL MAGIC and Dolby for ingest at its Munich transmission centre and for playout across all of its channels including those in Austria and Switzerland. They were the first in Germany to apply loudness control to all transmission channels. A similar situation exists at RTL Group, Germany’s largest commercial TV broadcaster, which is using a C8000/LEVEL MAGIC/Dolby system for ingest and playout at its Cologne Broadcasting Centre run by CBC.

“We are now receiving a lot of ignquiries from the smaller independent commercial TV stations that are planning to install new hardware in order to comply with the EBU R128 recommendations,” Peter Pors adds. “This interest is also extending to production companies that are aware of the need to make sure all material they produce for the broadcast companies is R128 compliant.”

Germany’s decision to adopt EBU R128 will ensure that German TV audiences no longer have to suffer from sudden changes in loudness while watching programmes, adverts, trailers or when switching from channel to channel. The broadcasters aim to start transmission with newly harmonized loudness from August 31, 2012.

Other European countries that have also committed to EBU R128 include the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and France, which has linked the standard to legislation on loudness so that these laws can be better defined and enforced.