New from Waves: WLM Loudness Meter

Waves has released a new metering plugin targeted at post production sound called the Waves WLM Loudness Meter.  This new metering plugin is the perfect tool for keeping an eye on your mix to make sure it is compliant with the new ITU 1770-based network specs being adopted by various broadcast networks.  It also serves as a nice alternative to the Dolby Media Meter providing comparable functionality for less than half the price!  What is this plugin all about and why does it matter to us in post sound?  Read on…

In the music world the loudness war is all about making your song louder than everyone else’s.  In TV the loudness war is all about competing with those infuriatingly loud commercials.  Congress managed to pass the CALM Act in 2010, requiring commercials to turn it down.  But in true bureaucratic fashion the law is still a year out from taking effect.

It’s good news for everyone, when it finally gets here.  Of course the critical question for post sound professionals is “how do we know we’re in compliance in terms of loudness?”  Enter the Waves WLM.

TV shows and commercials will have to abide by the ITU 1770 specifications, which provide guidelines for average dialog level as well as decibel “true peak” level.  Traditional PPM meters and sample-peak meters don’t measure these things, so we need something new.  The first major plugin to market for this task was the Dolby Media Meter, which was essentially a software version of their LM100 rack unit.  Now the Waves WLM offers the same capabilities for a much lower price.

Now when your network tells you that your dialog average needs to be -24dB and your peaks can’t exceed -6dB True Peak, you have a meter plugin that you can use for reference.  The WLM can measure dialog average and true peak values over momentary, short term, and long term durations, and log all of this to a .CSV file that can be read in Excel.  This is quite handy for zeroing in on problem-areas in your mix.  It can also function in mono, stereo and 5.1 depending on your needs.

You can also define target ranges and have the meter trigger an alarm whenever the measured loudness goes above or below the desired range.

The Waves WLM is an excellent tool to have in your post production sound arsenal as you move into the new world of ITU-1770-2 standards compliance (what a mouthful!).  Now if we just had a plugin for easy and reliable true-peak limiting……

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