Stay C.A.L.M., help is already here!
Dave Bar worked for Crutchfield from 1981 until his retirement in 2016. After a 23-year stint in the sales department, he joined the home A/V writing staff. Dave's expertise and good humor will be sorely missed.
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The Senate is currently considering H.R. 6209 — the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. Also known as C.A.L.M. (get it?). The bill directs the FCC to regulate over-amped TV ads. And let's face it, no one appreciates being blasted off the sofa by some announcer extolling the virtues of a kitchen appliance that slices, dices, and gets your teeth as white as snow.
But it doesn't take an act of Congress to fix this problem — the solution's already built into a number of home theater receivers. No, it's not the mute button (although if you're willing to sit there with remote constantly in hand I suppose that might work). What I'm talking about is much more ingenious. It's something called Dynamic Volume, a technology created by Tomlinson Holman (of THX fame) and a company named Audyssey.
Dynamic Volume makes the need to constantly adjust the volume control a thing of the past. It works by monitoring the differences in volume between the loudest and softest levels of your program, and automatically maintaining the desired listening level you have set. Not only does Dynamic Volume suppress the objectionably loud passages, it neatly enhances the quietest parts to maintain clarity, tonal balance, and bass response. Plus it works equally well with TV shows and movies on DVD.
Right now, you can find Dynamic Volume on many of the surround sound receivers from Denon (like the one pictured above), Marantz, and Onkyo. To take advantage of this cool new technology, you must first pipe your TV's sound through the receiver and then to a set of external speakers. (Shouldn't you be doing that anyway?) So it might take a little bit of effort to set up, but the rewards will come back to you many fold. And you don't even need to wait for Congressional action.