Mind Your Levels

It’s the Law

Several years ago, Congress (in its infinite wisdom) passed the CALM act. CALM stands for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation. It’s designed to keep TV commercials from blowing you against the back wall of your living room with their ear-bleeding volume.

The CALM act requires that your commercial’s volume level average -24dB over a given period of time. So video producers around the country have begun simply pulling the volume back to max out at -24dB. That’s a really, really low volume. And sadly, it’s the wrong way to do it. Turns out CALM compliancy not as simple as pulling the volume down.

If you do it wrong, people won’t hear your commercial. If you don’t do it at all, the broadcast or cable outlet will let you know how much they’ll be fined.

It gets Geeky

There’s a lot of tech stuff that goes into making a track CALM-compliant. You have to be able to measure decibel-averaging over time. You also have to consider the odd sensitivity of human hearing in light of the Fletcher-Munson Equal Loudness Contours. And don’t forget your peak to RMS ratios. Sound like fun? We think so.

It’s certified geek stuff, which we really get off on. It’s also the kind of audio complexity video producers shouldn’t have to hassle with. Soundscapes has the knowledge and the gear to create a perfect CALM-compliant mix. We also know the mixing and EQ tricks to create a legal mix that still sounds solid and strong when it airs.

Multiple Mixes Now

But, (and this is a big but) if your broadcast spot will also be run on the web, it now requires a different mix. Web usage doesn’t require CALM compliancy. This misunderstanding is one reason why web videos have you constantly reaching for the volume control.

Soundscapes is committed to providing fully-compliant CALM mixes for all our video editors and agency producers. We’ll also send a full-volume mix for website or pre-roll usage, when that’s part of the media buy. We’ll ensure that your audio sounds great, no matter where it’s heard.