Basic Operation within Protools
We advice to use the AAX version in PT 10 to ensure the correct initialisation of the plugin for each file that is measured.
LevelNorm is an AudioSuite plugin and therefore only operates on a selected file or part of a file and not in real time on a channel of your virtual mixing desk. Consequence is it will ignore the fader positions of your mixing desk. This means that if you like to use LevelNorm for making your final mix comply to the EBU or ATSC recommendation, first you need to print your mix to a separate mono, stereo or surround track. Operation then is as usual with Audio Suite plugins: select the audio file and open LevelNorm from the AudioSuite menu (it can be found in the ‘Grimm Audio’ section). The LevelNorm User Interface window now opens, as seen below.
LevelNorm automatically sets the amount of channels to mono, stereo or surround, dependent on the source. In case your source is surround, please make sure that the ‘format’ is set to the right channel order. You can change this setting by clicking the window next to the text ‘format’. A drop down menu will open with a choice between SMPTE, Film and DTS channel order.
AudioSuite processing in Protools has relatively large freedom in selecting files and part of files. For instance for stereo either a true stereo track or two mono tracks can be selected. It is also possible to select part of a file or even more than one file on the timeline and analyse or process the total amount of selected audio.
After the track count format, set the target level. With LevelNorm-EBU, 0 LU equals -23 LUFS. For LevelNorm-ATSC, 0 LU is -24 LKFS. Normally your target will be 0 LU. When using LevelNorm in the course of your mix process however, it can be convenient to normalize for instance background music to your favorite level below 0 LU. This may speed up your production time considerably. To use this function, just select the preferred target level with the slider before clicking ‘Process’.
Next step is to either only ‘Find LU’ of the file, or directly ‘Process’ it to the loudness target level set with the slider. A progress bar will be shown during the calculation and the normalized file will replace the original file on the timeline. If the average loudness of the file was so low that normalizing it to 0 LU would cause a clip, LevelNorm will show a warning and amplify the file to a maximum peak level of 0 dBTP. Mark that to maintain the correct 0 LU level of a normalized track during a second print, the channel fader and master fader should be set to 0 dB.
Normally your target level will be 0 LU. When using LevelNorm in the course of a mix process however, it can be convenient to normalize for instance background music to your favorite level below 0 LU. This may speed up your production time considerably. To use this function, just select the preferred target level with the slider before clicking ‘Process’.
The AAX version of LevelNorm-ATSC has an extra option: “Dialog Gate”. This enables ‘Dialog Intelligence’ (by Dolby), a process that automatically detects speech and only enables the loudness measurement for audio fragments in which speech is present. Automatic speech detection is a difficult task and therefore an algorithm like this can not replace manual detection perfectly. But if your aim is to use speech as an anchor element, you may use LevelNorm-ATSC for this.