PRODUCT: Nugen Audio VisLM loudness meter
PRICE: VisLM-C $299. VisLM-H $449
God, I love a good meter. Who doesn’t, really? You know how sometimes you get all insecure and weird about a mix you’ve heard more times in the last month than you’ve heard your name in your entire life? No? Just me? LIAR. We all do it. That one element of that one scene — too much? Too little? Or when you’re mixing and you’ve completely lost the plot with regards to high-hat placement?
It goes back to how I learned to mix. I’ve touched an actual, physical fader with intention to mix twice. Ever. I’ve used tape, oh, maybe three times in 15 years. All of this makes me a guy who stares at the screens when I mix. Not at the meter bridge, always the screens. We’ve all read about the importance of not looking sometimes, about switching the monitors off, but… well, no. I just can’t do it. It’s bordering on neuroses. I need to know everything that is going on all the damned time.
As a result, stuff like the Nugen VisLM is right up my alley. I’ve dabbled with a few meters, the usual suspects, and have enjoyed myself. I own three software versions that I kind of jump in between, depending on the exact info I’m looking for, the program material I’m working with, and, frankly, how I’m feeling.
Technically, The VisLM is a loudness meter. It is ITU-R BS, 1770/1, EBU R128 and ATSC A/85 compliant. It offers True-Peak level metering, loudness range, momentary “instantaneous loudness,” short-term loudness (three seconds) and long-term loudness measuring (up to 24 hours with the H version. Seriously.).
BUT WAIT, THERE MORE
The H version also allows you to export a log (a .csv file). Awesome, on toast! The H also has a few other features that bump up the price, but if you need a really amazing stand-alone version, the H is for you. The next time I do live recording/mixing, I will bring a system purely to have this plug running on a dedicated monitor. Crucially useful.
A good meter needs to be aesthetically amazing. If you’re constantly checking it, you want the info quickly and accurately. The customization options are the key to the VisLM pulling this off beautifully. I started dorking around with the meter range color options right off the bat, specifying hilariously precise ranges with whatever color I had the urge to choose. It’s actually extremely handy for that “occasional glance” technique of metering. “Oh hey, back at around 25 minutes I seem to have dipped into the -35 to -40 range for a minute or two. Should probably do something about all that.”
You can also specify your own warning levels. Also, you can save all of your customization. It even has a host of presets that you can choose from (like Discovery NTSC, UK Ch4 Advert and others), which was a nice touch. It’s also worth mentioning that the tech support is fantastic.
In short, this is an extremely precise tool that had a lot of very careful thought put in to it. The price is wholly reasonable for the results, and I urge you to take the demo for a spin.