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GrizzlyHippo
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:30 am
Location: UK

BBC radio sound level problems...

Mon Jul 21, 2008 4:25 am

Is anyone else experiencing problems with the sound levels on BBC radio programmes? We listen to BBC 6 Music in the office and about 2-3 months ago we started having a problem where the sound level of the music is really low and the sound level of the presenters is really high.

This appears to vary and sometimes you can hardly hear the music, then the presenter comes on and is SO loud.

Is this a BBC problem or a Soundbridge problem?

Help please.

Thanks,
Tom

Soundbridge 1000 running software 3.0.51
 
alanmc
Posts: 1391
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:40 am
Location: Bedfordshire - U.K.

Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:20 am

Hi GrizzlyHippo

Personally I don't normally listen to the BBC streams due to their low bitrate/quality . . . . However, I have checked Radio 6 for you on six occasions in the last 24hrs for periods of some 20 mins and have not found your comments to be correct as regards lower volume of the music content of the programming on these occasions.

Cheers, Alan
(Radio Roku Moderator)

[Checked with Roku branded M1001 - 3.0.52 - into Harman Kardon 2.1 Soundsticks]
[Checked with Roku branded M1001 - 3.0.44 - into Harman Kardon 2.1 Soundsticks]
 
GrizzlyHippo
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:30 am
Location: UK

Tue Jul 22, 2008 6:28 am

Hi Alan,

Thanks for checking. It is a weird and inconsistant problem for us. For instance, right now the volume levels of the presenter and music are fine, but earlier today, and indeed yesterday at the same time (i.e. same presenter) the problem was there.

Our system is Roku M1000 > Naim Nait2 integrated amplifier > Naim N-Sat speakers.

The M1000 also runs an iTunes library from our MacMini server and there is no volume problem when playing anything from the library, or indeed if you play the library all day.

I'm guessing it's a BBC problem but cannot find anyone else who is suffering.

Tom.
 
alanmc
Posts: 1391
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:40 am
Location: Bedfordshire - U.K.

Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:01 am

Hi Tom, I will continue to check this for you randomly over the next couple of days . . . . and will PM you with my findings.

My only comment now being: Why do you bother listening to such a poor quality stream with such high quality equipment ?

Cheers, Alan
 
Greg_E
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:52 am

Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:03 am

You should mention the specific times that this is happening. it could be that the BBC is switching between studios and that one or two studios is far from correct. That is really the only thing that could explain it as the Soundbridge has no way of knowing between speech and music.
 
GrizzlyHippo
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:30 am
Location: UK

Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:13 am

alanmc wrote:
My only comment now being: Why do you bother listening to such a poor quality stream with such high quality equipment ?


Indeed. We often have the iTunes library playing but there is just something about listening to live radio that works in our small design studio, and for some reason 6 Music content is enjoyed by everyone here. Now, if there were a way of getting a higher quality stream we'd be very interested...

I am perplexed about the volume thing. I am sat here now and one record is the correct volume and then the next one is a bit too quiet.

Greg_E wrote:
it could be that the BBC is switching between studios and that one or two studios is far from correct. That is really the only thing that could explain it as the Soundbridge has no way of knowing between speech and music.


I agree, that is the only thing I can think it is, i.e. a BBC problem, and yes, I realise the Soundbridge cannot differentiate between speech and music! The problem happens most during the morning George Lamb show, but also on other shows. Plus, some shows are OK one day and bad the next, which would lend itself to them using different studios.

The reason I have finally posted this problem on the Roku forums is in the hope that there are other Roku internet radio users here that are experiencing this same problem. The bizarre thing is that after extensive searches through Google there are no mentions of this problem anywhere, so with the thought that somehow it could be our setup, I posted here. Plus there are no BBC help forums that I can find.

When the problem is there it is very apparent. The presenter is normal/loud and you can hardly hear the music.

I think we'll bring a DAB radio in tomorrow and see if the problem still occurs. If it does then it is the studio equipment. if it doesn't then it has to be the broadcast method, i.e. the stream.

Cheers, Tom
 
alanmc
Posts: 1391
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:40 am
Location: Bedfordshire - U.K.

Tue Jul 22, 2008 8:46 am

Tom, for the record I currently have ALL the following playing in my office :

BBC Radio 6 - DAB (Pure Evoke 1S)
BBC Radio 6 - Reciva Real Audio (Roberts WM-201)
BBC Radio 6 - Roku branded M1001 - 3.0.52 - into Harman Kardon 2.1 Soundsticks

All play with the same levels -

Alan
 
GrizzlyHippo
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:30 am
Location: UK

Tue Jul 22, 2008 8:58 am

Alan,

I agree - here this afternoon everything seems OK and balanced. As you appear to be online all the time like me would you be willing to PM me your email address and then if we're experiencing the problem tomorrow morning I could email you and see if you hear it to on your systems?

Cheers,
Tom
 
alanmc
Posts: 1391
Joined: Mon Jun 11, 2007 10:40 am
Location: Bedfordshire - U.K.

Tue Jul 22, 2008 9:53 am

Tom - check for the PM that I've sent you

Alan
 
Greg_E
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:52 am

Tue Jul 22, 2008 9:57 am

As an engineer in the radio and TV field, it sounds a lot like one of a couple of problems.

#1 lazy person at the mixer not monitoring the audio level coming out of the playout devices

#2 poor use of technology (assuming an automated computer playout device)

I would go for #2 as we went through the same thing on our station. Different types of music sound louder than others, even if the same peak audio level is reached. Also different recording standards were used several years ago that result in lower volumes for the recorded material. We found that the only way to achieve a nice even level between all songs was to "normalize" each song to an average level (computed for each song). We would get things like hard rock (Metalica for example) that would just blow your ears off, even though the level on the meter was correct, then take something like popular Jazz at the same peak level meter would be too quiet to enjoy. Using the averaging everything was then at an appropriate level. That said this method is not good for most Classical music as you want the dynamics from quiet to loud in the correct spots.

The BBC boradcast may sound fine, because they should be using processing on the audio to make sure that it is never too loud, this will reduce the level for the really loud stuff, and provide less (or no) reduction to the quiet stuff. This is the old method of doing things. The correct (in my opinion) method for digital is the way that we do things, if you want that nice even (perceived) volume. Yes it is damaging to the original dynamics of the music, but the processing that we are so used to here from analog FM is the same or worse. The averaging of the music is normally far less degrading than the processing that many FM stations use to sound LOUD. Somewhere people decided that loud was best for analog, dynamics be damned.
 
Greg_E
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:52 am

Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:06 am

I just tuned in and the DJ came on, WOW they have something fundamentally wrong! Sounds like the DJ audio is so loud that the processing has to push the entire level down a huge amount, and it did it crazy fast! I'm betting on the processing and fundemental level issues within the studio. I can say with some amount of certainty that your problem is not with the Roku player.
 
GrizzlyHippo
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:30 am
Location: UK

Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:08 am

Thanks Greg, I'm just emailing one of the DJ's at 6 Music to report the problem.

Tom
 
Greg_E
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:52 am

Tue Jul 22, 2008 10:13 am

Tell them I'll come over to consult for $400 a day plus expenses (paid up front). :D Since I'm in the US I doubt they will take me up on this, but if they really want it fixed, I can probably come up with a consultant/radio engineer that lives in the UK
 
andyg
Posts: 407
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2005 4:11 am
Location: London, UK

Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:34 pm

Greg_E wrote:
Tell them I'll come over to consult for $400 a day plus expenses (paid up front). :D Since I'm in the US I doubt they will take me up on this, but if they really want it fixed, I can probably come up with a consultant/radio engineer that lives in the UK


dream on! that's our license payers' fee you're talking about... :wink:
don't want to mess with their bonuses!! :roll:

still, I find this intriguing so have my M1000 running BBC Radio 6 and will monitor for widely varying levels. Without wanting to jump the gun or anything, it reminds me of (the well-documented) differences in levels for TV progs vs. adverts... although in the case of the Beeb there is no commercial incentive to turn up the volume between tracks given they're not advertising comercially (apart from BBC progs)... strange....
G5, OS X 10.5.8, 3 x M1000, iTunes 10.4, slimserver 6.2.1/alienbbc (now redundant), firefly svn 1586, uNSLUng 6.8
 
KlaasV
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 2:07 pm

Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:24 am

Greg_E wrote:
Tell them I'll come over to consult for $400 a day plus expenses (paid up front).

Man, that's cheap! A mediocre European consultant wouldn't even bother to pick up the phone for 250 Euros a day.

Regards
Klaas

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