Q: Cox Communication is my signal provider and we are having problems with the incoming signal for sound volume. When changing from another channel to Channel 3 the volume is extremely loud compared to the other channels. The same goes for commercials for many of the stations. We are in the market for a new HDTV; is there a TV on the market that will maintain the volume of incoming signals? If not a TV is there a device that can be connected to the TV line that will manage the sound volume?
iGirl: The volume of TV programs and commercials is not regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. According to the FCC Web site, the agency regulates the amount of power a station can transmit and the peak sound level of the program material. The site goes on to say that within the FCC’s power limitations “broadcasters and program producers have considerable latitude to vary the ‘loudness’ of the program material.”
Now that we understand why some TV programs and commercials are louder, it’s time to explain how that can be avoided.
Wait: Since you are looking to buy a TV, it might be wise to wait until later this year to make that purchase. That’s when two solutions — Dolby Volume and SRS Volume IQ — could solve your problem. Both products maintain a steady audio volume on TVs, as well as set-top boxes, computers, mobile phones and portable media devices.
The Volume IQ from SRS Labs in Santa Ana was picked up by Cirrus Logic this January to be added to that company’s chips. Bill Schnell, a Cirrus spokesman, said manufacturers are designing products right now so consumers could see TVs with these volume controls built in as early as the second half of 2008.
Get regulator: If you just can’t wait, the $40 Terk VR1 Automatic TV Volume Regulator from Audiovox might provide an immediate solution. It is advertised specifically for people wanting to limit the sound of loud commercials or stations. Fifty-three Amazon.com customers reviewed the product for an average rating of 3 out of a possible 5 stars.
Skip commercials: If you have Cox’s digital video recorder — or other TV recording device, like TiVo — you can use it to skip or fast-forward past commercials.
Live with it: I called Cox Communications customer service, was transferred three times, the last time landing in the voicemail of a press contact. Orange County Spokeswoman Ayn Craciun called me back to say that Cox has no control over the sound levels, which she said is controlled only by the networks. She knew of no device from Cox that can limit or regulate volume and said there is no information on the company’s Web site about the subject. She said TV volume disparity “has just sort of been that way since the beginning of time.”
FCC: The Federal Communications Commission Web site offers these suggestions: