Arris Gear Tones Down Annoyingly Loud Ads
Enhanced Version of VIPr Transcoder Adds Audio-Normalization Feature
By Todd Spangler --, 12/6/2010 3:46:04 PM

Arris has added an audio-normalization feature to its line of VIPr Transcoder/Re-Encoder systems, as MSOs may soon need to comply with federal regulations aimed at eliminating excessively noisy TV ads.

Last week, Congress passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, which would direct the Federal Communications Commission to regulate commercial volume in accordance with the Advanced Television Systems Committee's A/85 recommended practices adopted last November. The legislation would give cable operators and broadcasters one year from the law's adoption to comply.

Arris's VIPr family of encoders, which provide HD compression, ad splicing and MPEG-4-to-MPEG-2 transcoding capabilities, now include what the company says is a ready-to-deploy solution for toning down loud ads.

VIPr's audio normalization incorporates a patent-pending feature that continuously measures and calculates a running average of the audio levels in the video stream. If the audio level of a subsequent advertisement is significantly higher than the program audio, the VIPr will adjust relevant parameters in the advertisement's audio bit stream, instructing the set-top box to reduce the audio levels to approximately the same level as the program audio.

"We have come up with a way to [monitor average audio levels] more efficiently and faster," said Santhana Chari, Arris vice president of engineering for digital video systems.

Two other new features in VIPr are support for Active Format Description (AFD), which lets a content provider to specify the display mode of the video picture when an HD program is converted to SD, and input stream redundancy, which allows a user to configure a second redundant transcode.

Suwanee, Ga.-based Arris acquired key assets of EGT, including the VIPr encoder product line, last year for $6.5 million.