How are some infomercials louder than regular TV?

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Like some infomercials are louder and ear piercing compared to other commercials

In: Technology

6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

OOH, I’ve been waiting a long time for this question to come up!

The FCC introduced the CALM Act in 2010. It required commercials to match the “average volume” of the shows during which they’re playing. So commercials are intentionally designed to have all of their audio match the highest allowed volume.

In other words, all sounds, even what should be whisper, is balanced in a way that the waveform will all be at the maximum legal volume.

If you didn’t think advertisers were scum before, you should have a better understanding now.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because they want your attention. The idea is to get your attention in whatever way possible. As humans, we evolved to react to loud noises by looking at it. We want to see what just made that noise. So we look at the TV and pay closer attention when an infomercial suddenly comes on loudly, if only for a second.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The loudest sound your TV can produce can be adjusted by the volume setting of your TV.

How loud the sound of a movie/commercial/whatever is depends on its audiotrack. There’s only a relative loudness in this track, going from silence to maximal loudness. E.g. an explosion would be very loud, reaching the max volume of your TV, but people talking are only half as loud, whispering is even quieter. The higher the volume setting is, the louder everything will sound, but there’s stilll the relative differences between the whispering, the talking and the explosions.

Here’s the kicker: If you mix the audio in a normal way, the explosion would only hit max volume for one peak moment, while the whispering is still quiet. This is called dynamic range, you have very loud or very quiet moments, but also the most part of the track is around average values, making the other moments stand out. Now imagine you record yourself whispering and then shouting, Then you use some audio software, you select the ONLY the whispering part and make it louder, so it reaches the same maximal loudness as the shouting section.

That’s what those commercials (and songs) do to stand out. Instead of having a normal sounding audiotrack that has a wide dynamic range of silent and loud moments, they amplify everything that is “not maximal volume” so the whole track is always at the maximal loudness.

It’s not really measurable louder by the absolute values, it’s only almost always at the max volume, while normal sounding stuff only does reach that loudness a few times.

Keyword: “Loudness Wars”, some artists did this ( i think in the 2010s) to make their songs appear louder than others to stand out.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There is a great video about exactly this from Tom Scott on YouTube. With db examples and everything.

Anonymous 0 Comments

In the U.S., one may report commercials that violate volume parameters they’ve defined. Thought this might be of interest:

Anonymous 0 Comments

When I was a kid all TV was like this. Every time you fell asleep during a show you woke up to some car salesman screaming at you.

They turned up the audio so high it sounded “blasting” at any volume and was actually pretty hard to understand.

TV shows are designed so the volume is generally at the middle, so when there’s a car crash or something they can make it louder. The commercials simply ran as loud as possible all the time.