UPDATE 10/23: Added TVs/speaker systems that include TruVolume. See below in bold.
Santa Ana-based SRS Labs wants to make some noise about its latest gadget: A device that steadies the volume of annoyingly loud TV commercials. (See lots of pictures below.)
The company, which has quietly licensed its sound technologies for years to electronics makers, plans to launch a half-million dollar marketing campaign for TruVolume, a technology that knows when an overly loud TV commercial is about to air and lowers its volume to match the show being watched.
Coincidentally, legislation working its way into Congress this week would force advertisers to keep volume to a minimum. The Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, would prevent commercials from being broadcast louder than their accompanying TV program. SRS believes its technology could fix this.
During a visit to its Santa Ana office last week, I heard what it was all about. Steve Roney Jr., product marketing manager for SRS Home Entertainment Division, played a TV clip from the recent U.S. Open with an IBM commercial. He played it on a Vizio TV, which has TruVolume built in.
With TruVolume off, the volume of the TV commercial was significantly louder. With TruVolume on, I barely noticed the volume change.
I recorded the experience with my point-and-shoot camera and put it on video for readers to judge. (SRS also offers a demo on its site.) Since SRS didn’t have sound meter, I added one from my video-editing program to show the volume changes during the commercial. You can see an obvious jump in volume when the loud TV commercial plays:
Yes, yes, you’ve probably heard about volume levelers before. There’s Dolby Volume in Toshiba TVs, Sony TVs offer “SteadySound,” to name a few.
But here’s why SRS says its TruVolume is different. Read the rest of this entry »