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Free loudness meter application available from Orban, 2012-03-16: version 2 released, now supports OS X, EBU R 128, and more
Robert Orban
post Apr 11 2008, 04:11
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As an offshoot from a product development project, we have developed a stand-alone loudness meter for Windows, which we are releasing as a free public beta. The meter can be downloaded directly by clicking this link:


http://www.orban.com/meter/


Be sure to read the readme file, which is the meter's manual. The installer will offer to open the readme as part of the installation process.


Here is the press release:


ORBAN INTRODUCES FREE LOUDNESS/LEVEL METERING SOFTWARE

San Leandro, CA, April 10, 2008 -- Orban today announced that the first public beta of Orban Loudness Meter software for Windows XP and Vista is now available for free download from www.orban.com/meter.

This software simultaneously displays instantaneous peaks, VU, PPM, CBS Technology Center loudness, and ITU BS.1770 loudness. All meters include peak-hold functionality that makes the peak indications of the meters easy to see.

The software accepts two-channel stereo inputs. The VU and PPM meters are split to indicate the left and right channels. The PPM meter also displays the instantaneous peak values of the L and R digital samples.

The CBS meter is a"short-term" loudness meter intended to display the details of moment-to-moment loudness with dynamics similar to a VU meter. It uses the Jones & Torick algorithm developed at the CBS Technology Center and published in 1981 in the SMPTE Journal. Created using Orban-developed modeling software, the DSP implementation typically matches the original analog meter within 0.5 dB on sinewaves, tone bursts and noise.

The Jones & Torick algorithm improves upon the original loudness measurement algorithm developed by CBS researchers in the late 1960s. Its foundation is psychoacoustic studies done at CBS Laboratories over a two year period by Torick and the late Benjamin Bauer. After surveying existing equal-loudness contour curves and finding them inapplicable to measuring the loudness of broadcasts, Torick and Bauer organized listening tests that resulted in a new set of equal-loudness curves based on octave-wide noise reproduced by calibrated loudspeakers in a semireverberant 16 x 14 x 8 room, which is representative of a room in which broadcasts are normally heard. In 1966, they published this work in the IEEE Transactions on Audio and Electroacoustics, along with results from other tests whose goal was to model the loudness integration time constants of human hearing.

In 2006, the ITU-R published Recommendation ITU-R BS.1770: "Algorithms to measure audio programme loudness and true-peak audio level." Developed by G.A. Soulodre, the BS.1770 loudness meter uses a frequency-weighted r.m.s. measurement intended to be integrated over several seconds -- perhaps as long as an entire program segment. As such, it is considered a "long-term" loudness measurement because it does not take into account the loudness integration time constants of human hearing, as does the CBS meter.

Orban's BS.1770 loudness meter uses the Leq(RLB2) algorithm as specified in the Recommendation. This applies frequency weighting before the r.m.s. integrator. The frequency weighting is a series connection of pre-filter and RLB weighting curves. The Orban meter precisely implements equations (1) and (2) in this document by using a rolling integrator whose integration time is user-adjustable from one to ten seconds.

Additionally, the Orban meter offers an experimental long-term loudness indication derived by post-processing the CBS algorithm's output. This uses a relatively simple algorithm that attempts to mimic a skilled operator's mental integration of the peak swings of a meter with "VU-like" dynamics. The operator will concentrate most on the highest indications but will tend to ignore a single high peak that is atypical of the others.

Researchers have long been curious about the Jones & Torick meter but been unable to evaluate it and compare it with other meters. Orban developed this software because the company believed it would be useful to practicing sound engineers and researchers and also because Orban is using it in its new Optimod 8585 Surround Audio Processor. Thanks to this free software, engineers and scientists will now have the opportunity to easily compare the CBS algorithm with others, including the BS.1770 Recommendation.

The Orban software runs on Windows XP and Vista computers having 1.5 GHz or faster Intel Pentium 4 or Intel-compatible processors that implement the SSE2 instruction set. While the software can be driven by any installed Windows sound device, monitoring playback from an application like Windows Media Player requires the sound hardware to support Windows Wave I/O.


Bob Orban
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Axon
post Apr 11 2008, 05:24
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Nice!

I must ask a couple inane feature requests smile.gif Are there plans for an intersample peak meter? Or surround sound loudness measurement?

This post has been edited by Axon: Apr 11 2008, 05:28
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jesseg
post Apr 11 2008, 09:01
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Very cool to show off your latest CBS stuff with us all Bob. I'm mostly impressed by it, and of course you probably are using more advanced algorithms for the 8585's AGC control signal.

Also very cool to use Juce for development. I suppose you guys will be releasing an OSX version of the meters shortly? ("Im a PC" though, so whatever)


I had one question I guess beond the trivial, I was wondering if this implimentation of CBS Loudness is working on some kind of a reference signal level, as far as how it's judging loudness. I ask this because I was playing around with a bunch of normal program material, and it seemed than when I added 10db of gain, more than that was seen on the meters. But after running some thick noise, and sines through it, everything checks out there.

And if so, then what "CBS loudness gain" setting should we use for say... 83db according to the K-Meter scales? (this also brings up the point that the meter itself can't display anything above 0db, perhaps also something to look in to)

I'm currently using 10.6 db gain for the CBS meter. It seemed to be "even" with the ITU meter for several of my noise tests so far. (nothing very scientific)

Anyways, thanks for letting us take a look at it. smile.gif Greets

This post has been edited by jesseg: Apr 11 2008, 09:06
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Robert Orban
post Apr 11 2008, 20:22
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QUOTE (Axon @ Apr 10 2008, 20:24) *
Nice!

I must ask a couple inane feature requests smile.gif Are there plans for an intersample peak meter? Or surround sound loudness measurement?


Yes to both, but that version of the meter will be a paid upgrade. We don't know the price yet and we are soliciting opinions as to how much people would think it is reasonable to pay for a meter with those features (and more, like logging capabilities and histogram display).

QUOTE (jesseg @ Apr 11 2008, 00:01) *
Very cool to show off your latest CBS stuff with us all Bob. I'm mostly impressed by it, and of course you probably are using more advanced algorithms for the 8585's AGC control signal.

Also very cool to use Juce for development. I suppose you guys will be releasing an OSX version of the meters shortly? ("Im a PC" though, so whatever)


I had one question I guess beond the trivial, I was wondering if this implimentation of CBS Loudness is working on some kind of a reference signal level, as far as how it's judging loudness. I ask this because I was playing around with a bunch of normal program material, and it seemed than when I added 10db of gain, more than that was seen on the meters. But after running some thick noise, and sines through it, everything checks out there.

And if so, then what "CBS loudness gain" setting should we use for say... 83db according to the K-Meter scales? (this also brings up the point that the meter itself can't display anything above 0db, perhaps also something to look in to)

I'm currently using 10.6 db gain for the CBS meter. It seemed to be "even" with the ITU meter for several of my noise tests so far. (nothing very scientific)

Anyways, thanks for letting us take a look at it. smile.gif Greets


Regarding OSX, we have a very small and busy development team, so we have to concentrate our development for the most commonly used OS, Windows. That being said, I think that OSX is a fine OS.

I haven't worked out the CBS Gain adjustment with reference to the K-Meter. hopefully, someone on this list will do it and post the results.

Regarding gain scaling, as far as I know the CBS meter is perfectly linear -- for example, changing the input drive by 10 dB should cause the meter to read exactly 10 dB higher. There should be no possibility of clipping within the algorithm because it's all written in floating point, much of which is using SSE2 instructions for speed.
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Axon
post Apr 14 2008, 10:16
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Datalogging and histograms would be nice, but I'm not exactly sure what the target audience would be that would be covered by only those additional features (plus surround and intersample peaks). Most notably, offline file analysis with command-line control would be tremendously useful from a research context, and I could see some use out of adding DLL exports and OEMing the code. But I don't know enough about the potential customers to say who would be interested in what, or how much would be a reasonable price to pay. I'm a cheap bastard and a hobbyist so I'm probably not the best person to ask about that.

Full disclosure: I have a pet project (non-commercial) that also involves a lot of BS.1770, histogram, and short-term loudness estimation work. As a potential customer, the lack of offline/batch processing would be a dealbreaker for me. The CBS meters and the long-term corrections are quite interesting to me, having twisted the BS.1770 filters for the purposes of short- and long-term loudness estimation. But given the current state of the art of loudness estimation being so rapidly changing and still imperfect, I would just as quickly consider using/reimplementing a more modern algorithm, like HEIMDAL, unless a preponderance of published results suggested otherwise.
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Robert Orban
post Apr 21 2008, 22:42
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QUOTE (jesseg @ Apr 11 2008, 00:01) *
Very cool to show off your latest CBS stuff with us all Bob. I'm mostly impressed by it, and of course you probably are using more advanced algorithms for the 8585's AGC control signal.

I had one question I guess beond the trivial, I was wondering if this implimentation of CBS Loudness is working on some kind of a reference signal level, as far as how it's judging loudness. I ask this because I was playing around with a bunch of normal program material, and it seemed than when I added 10db of gain, more than that was seen on the meters. But after running some thick noise, and sines through it, everything checks out there.

And if so, then what "CBS loudness gain" setting should we use for say... 83db according to the K-Meter scales? (this also brings up the point that the meter itself can't display anything above 0db, perhaps also something to look in to)

I'm currently using 10.6 db gain for the CBS meter. It seemed to be "even" with the ITU meter for several of my noise tests so far. (nothing very scientific)


Given our limited development resources, we have no plans to release for releasing the software for platforms other than Windows. However, we have had reports of users running the meter successfully on Macs using Parallels.

As for the CBS loudness reference level, Jones and Torick never specified an "official" reference level. I set up the meter to use 10 dB gain because, as you observed, it allows convenient comparison with the BS.1770 meter. As for calibration against the K-Meter, I would welcome anyone who has a K-Meter available and can measure and report it.

Because of the fact that the CBS meter uses a fixed set of equal-loudness curves, the question of "absolute" reference level (re SPL) is relevant because we know that the shape of the equal-loudness curve varies as a function of SPL, whereas the CBS meter uses a fixed curve. In fact, the CBS meter uses the "70 phon" curve measured at CBS Laboratories by presenting test subjects with octave-wide bands of noise reproduced through loudspeakers in a livingroom-like environment. When watching television, most people set the volume close to this level with speech material. Fortunately, in this range of SPLs, the equal-loudness curves are almost parallel except at the very low frequencies that contribute little to the sensation of loudness in most broadcasts.
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Robert Orban
post Apr 28 2008, 23:41
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The first update is now available.

Version 1.0.1:

--Reduces CPU load caused by refreshing the meter’s display. This allows slower computers to operate at the meter’s maximum 100 Hz refresh rate, minimizing flicker.

--Changes the color scheme to improve appearance and to make the meters easier to read.

--Changes the graphic design of the single-bar meter display elements like peak hold to make them easier to read and to prevent them from being obscured.

--On startup, checks whether the computer’s CPU supports the SSE2 instruction set and exits gracefully if it does not.

--Increases the gain of the VU meter by 10 dB for a given setting of the VU Meter Gain control. When the control is set to 0 dB and the meter is fed by a sinewave, the VU meter will now display the same level as the absolute peak meter.

--Clarifies the readme to better explain how the meter interacts with your computer’s sound device(s).

--Moves the Audio Input selector to the Settings page.

The update is available here:

http://www.orban.com/meter/
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Woodinville
post Apr 30 2008, 06:16
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So, what do all you guys think of measuring loudness in dB, anyhow? tongue.gif


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Robert Orban
post May 2 2008, 21:13
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We have released version 1.02 of the Orban loudness meter. This version resolves all of the bugs that have been reported to date. In particular, it resolves the issue with Windows 2000 where the test for an SSE2-compatible processor (introduced in v 1.01) would fail.

Bob Orban
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Robert Orban
post May 2 2008, 21:56
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QUOTE (Woodinville @ Apr 29 2008, 21:16) *
So, what do all you guys think of measuring loudness in dB, anyhow? tongue.gif


Yeah, I know that the meter should really be calibrated in sones. But no one in broadcasting is accustomed to the sone scale.

The CBS meter is designed to measure loudness in the range of about 4 to 16 sones, which translates to about 60 to 80 phons. In this range, the equal loudness contours are approximately parallel except at the very low frequencies that don't contribute significantly to the sensation of loudness in a vast majority of broadcast mixes. (Movies mixes are different, but even there, the material designed to give one's subwoofer a workout is a relatively small percentage of a movie soundtrack.)

So I agree with your implication that a wide-range loudness meter should be calibrated in something else than dB and the sone is the internationally standardized unit of measure. But it is reasonable to make life easier on broadcasters by calibrating the meter in the familiar unit of dB, which maps pretty well to psychoacoustic units in the 4 to 16 sone range: +10 dB = double the loudness in sones. In fact, Jones and Torick's 1981 meter had a second scale below the the meter that was essentially in sones, except that they normalized the scale so that the reference loudness was equal to 1 at the 0 dB mark. It would be easy enough for use to add this scale to our loudness meter as well and we may just do it in a future release.

Of course, the user has to determine an acoustic reference level in phons or sones that is equivalent to 0 dB on the loudness meter. In our 8585 surround television processor, we map the 0 dB reading of the CBS loudness meter to a user-specified Dolby Dialnorm value, which establishes a link (albeit a convoluted one) between the 0 dB point on meter and the actual loudness likely to be heard by the television viewer (assuming she sets her volume control to reproduce dialog at the loudness that television viewers typically prefer). The purpose of doing this is to allow the user to use the loudness meter as a reference for adjusting the processing so that the loudness is consistent with that expected for a given Dialnorm value.

I have written some more about the CBS algorithm here:

http://www.orban.com/meter/Technology.html

and I also recommend that people interested in the CBS meter read Bauer and Torick's paper from 1966, which illustrates how much serious thought and work went into the CBS meter.

Bauer & Torick, "Researches in Loudness Measurement," IEEE Transactions on Audio and Electroacoustics, Volume AU-14, Number 3, September 1966, pp. 141-151


Regarding the BS.1170 meter:

ITU BS.1771, which is the companion to BS.1770 and which addresses the meter scale for the BS.1770 loudness meter, defines a "loudness unit" as follows:

"The loudness unit is the scale unit of the loudness meter. The value of the programme in loudness units represents the loss or gain (dB) that is required to bring the programme to 0 LU, e.g. a programme that reads –10 LU will require 10 dB of gain to bring that programme up to a reading of 0 LU."

And ampifies as follows:

"Reference loudness level is an acoustic and electric calibration signal. It is an analog of alignment level in Recommendation ITU-R BS.645, but because a loudness meter reads a signal differently from a VU meter, the calibration point for reference loudness is not at alignment level. In operation however, normal programme level set with a VU meter calibrated to alignment level should correspond fairly well to the level set using a loudness meter calibrated to reference loudness level.

"The reference loudness level signal is a continuous sinewave at 60 dB SPL and –24 dBFS (example only) at 1 kHz. Reference loudness level corresponds to 0 LU on a loudness meter.
NOTE 1 – The relation of 0 LU to a 0 dBFS (full scale sinewave) at 1 kHz is still under study, and the value of –24 dBFS is just an example value which has not been confirmed.
This signal is primarily intended for electrical calibration and is not an ideal signal for acoustical measurement due to standing wave effects. A secondary loudness level calibration signal which may be used for acoustic calibration is continuous octave band noise centred at 1 kHz, at an average of 60 dB SPL and –24 dBFS (example only). This should also correspond to an average of 0 LU on a loudness meter."
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Woodinville
post May 3 2008, 04:54
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Oh, yes, I've read all that.

But these wideband meters, how do they react to changing signal bandwidth?


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Robert Orban
post May 3 2008, 23:49
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QUOTE (Woodinville @ May 2 2008, 19:54) *
Oh, yes, I've read all that.

But these wideband meters, how do they react to changing signal bandwidth?


Because the CBS meter uses a filterbank, I presume you are referring to the BS.1770 meter. I have no explanation for why the BS.1770 meter correlated so well to listeners' impression of long-term loudness (better than nine other tested meters, many of which used much more elaborate psychoacoustic models) except to say that I'm not quite sure what "long-term loudness" really means. I *think* it means that viewers want to set their volume controls to the same setting for any similar material (like speech) with the same long-term loudness.

If you look at the studies verifiying the BS.1770 meter, you will find outliers as large as 5 dB. That's a *big* error in my world, where radio stations pay a lot of money to get an extra dB of average loudness. On the other hand, CBS, Dolby, and others have done studies that define a "comfort zone" for television viewers, which is the loudness window over which they will not reach for their remote controls to change the volume. The window is 7 dB wide: -5 dB to +2 dB where 0 dB is their preferred loudness as determined by where they set their volume controls. So from that point of view, BS.1770 is barely good enough to ensure that viewers remain in their comfort zones while watching a broadcast.

Incidentally, I have had some feedback from people find that the CBS meter correlates more closely to what they are hearing than the BS.1770 meter. Given its more sophisticated psychoacoustic model, I would hope that that is the case! Of course, anecdotal evidence proves nothing, but the feedback seems consistent with the validation tests that Jones & Torick presented in their 1981 publication, where the maximum outliers were 3 dB.

I think that one of the most interesting results to come from the CBS research is that loudness perception varies by the age of the listener and to a lesser extent, by the listener's gender. So the best one can do is to approximate a "one size fits all" solution to the problem, which is probably good enough given the size of the comfort zone.
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Woodinville
post May 7 2008, 06:02
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QUOTE (Robert Orban @ May 3 2008, 15:49) *
Incidentally, I have had some feedback from people find that the CBS meter correlates more closely to what they are hearing than the BS.1770 meter. Given its more sophisticated psychoacoustic model, I would hope that that is the case! Of course, anecdotal evidence proves nothing, but the feedback seems consistent with the validation tests that Jones & Torick presented in their 1981 publication, where the maximum outliers were 3 dB.



Well, given that as far back as Fletcher, the evidence for "energy in a critical band gets compressed, energy in different bands adds after compression in each band", this isn't so surprising.

And, yes, the 5dB is a huge outlier. I can't talk in more specifics, but the CBS meter is hardly the only one to suggest issues.

Perhaps, one might offer 1770 as an "advisory practice" while suggesting that other measurements and calculations may be part of the "artistic process"?


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retro83
post May 7 2008, 07:38
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That's strange, the program installs and runs but will not monitor my audio output.

I just double checked and have no problem recording the stereo master output in other programs such as Audition.
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Robert Orban
post May 8 2008, 06:39
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QUOTE (retro83 @ May 6 2008, 22:38) *
That's strange, the program installs and runs but will not monitor my audio output.

I just double checked and have no problem recording the stereo master output in other programs such as Audition.


The original 1.00 readme had an error -- it told you to use the Wave slider in the Playback page of the Windows Master Volume application instead of the Wave or "Stereo Mix" control in the Record page, which is what is actually required. We corrected this in the v 1.01 readme. If you have only seen the v 1.00 readme, I suggest you download the current release (1.02) and see if the procedure described in the readme helps solve your problem.

Bear in mind that some sound devices cannot route playback from Windows applications into the loudness meter. But if your system works with Audition, I believe that it should work with the loudness meter. If you still can't get the LM working, please send a bug report to the email address in the readme.


QUOTE (Woodinville @ May 6 2008, 21:02) *
Perhaps, one might offer 1770 as an "advisory practice" while suggesting that other measurements and calculations may be part of the "artistic process"?


In the 1770 document, the ITU recommends "that consideration should be given to the possible need to update this Recommendation in the event that new loudness algorithms are shown to provide performance that is significantly improved over the algorithm specified in Annex 1."

They consider the Leq(RLB2) algorithm to represent a "baseline" loudness meter.
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Robert Orban
post Mar 16 2012, 01:05
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ORBAN POSTS V2.0 OF ITS FREE LOUDNESS METER SOFTWARE FOR WINDOWS AND MAC

March 13, 2012 San Leandro, California — Orban today posted V2.0 of its free loudness meter application.

V1 worked only on Windows® PCs running XP, Vista, and 7; new in V2 is support for Intel-based Mac computers running OS10.6 or higher. Also new is comprehensive support for the ITU-R Rec. BS.1770-2 and EBU R 128 metering standards. R 128 calls for three meters: an ungated “momentary” meter having a time integration window of 400 ms, an ungated “short-term” meter having a time integration window of 3 seconds, and an “integrated” meter, having a user-selectable time integration window and gating as specified in BS.1770-2. Additionally, V2 measures Loudness Range per EBU – TECH 3342, which is incorporated into R 128 by reference.

Loudness meter scales have been revised to conform to EBU – TECH 3341 and loudness can be displayed in absolute terms or relative to a user-adjustable reference level, which is typically –23 LBFS or –24 LKFS.

Manual start/start mode is now available and maximum integration time has been extended to three hours, allowing users to measure the BS.1770-2 Integrated loudness and Loudness Range of long-form programming like feature films.

Many CDs are now mastered with gross amounts of digital-domain clipping, which can cause overshoots after D/A conversion. When clipped by analog circuitry in consumer playout devices, these overshoots will add still more distortion compared to the distortion added by the digital clipping alone. A new Reconstructed Peak meter runs at 384 kHz sample rate and indicates the peak level of the audio after D/A conversion with an accuracy of better than 0.2 dB, which is better than that required in Annex 2 of ITU-R Rec. BS.1770-2. The Reconstructed Peak meter allows mastering engineers to anticipate analog-domain clipping and to prevent it by slightly lowering maximum peak levels in the digital domain.

The meter now allows users to write comma-delimited ASCII log files that can be imported into any common spreadsheet or graphing application for graphical display. Typical applications include graphing loudness vs. time and creating histograms. Logging can also be used to verify that television stations in the U.S. are complying with the CALM Act.

The VU meter has been revised so that it can indicate levels above 0 VU. 0 VU can now be aligned to common line-up levels like –20 dBFS (SMPTE) or –18 dBFS (EBU).

The PPM is now oversampled at 384 kHz, so it more accurately indicates the effect of short-duration peaks.

The application now supports WASAPI Loopback operation in Windows Vista and 7. This allows the meter to monitor any sound device that uses the Windows WAVE audio system without depending on the specific features of a given sound device’s driver.

The Orban software is free to end users and is sponsored by Orban’s Optimod-TV loudness controllers, including the 1101, 6300, 6585, and 8685. It can be downloaded from www.orban.com/meter. Although the current meter supports only mono and stereo programs, future enhancements will include 5.1-channel surround metering and loudness analysis of files in several formats.
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Robert Orban
post Apr 13 2012, 19:40
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QUOTE (Robert Orban @ Mar 15 2012, 16:05) *
ORBAN POSTS V2.0 OF ITS FREE LOUDNESS METER SOFTWARE FOR WINDOWS AND MAC


We have posted a new version of the loudness meter that supports ASIO, per some user requests.
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mzil
post Apr 13 2012, 21:54
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QUOTE (Robert Orban @ Apr 13 2012, 13:40) *
QUOTE (Robert Orban @ Mar 15 2012, 16:05) *
ORBAN POSTS V2.0 OF ITS FREE LOUDNESS METER SOFTWARE FOR WINDOWS AND MAC


We have posted a new version of the loudness meter that supports ASIO, per some user requests.

I have just now downloaded this version (my first and only) and there is a loud, repetitive thumping/ticking noise, like a slow machine gun, either at the conclusion of a Youtube video I just watched or if I pause the Youtube video mid stream. Some of the meters show this noise as full scale, to give you an idea of how very loud it is.

I have not tried other audio sources as of yet. The noise problem is remedied by powering off the meters so they don't display.

[I have Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit, I'm using current IE as my browser, and I was listening through my outboard Behringer UCA202 USB audio interface, should such things matter.]

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