PRODUCT: RTW’s TouchMonitor TM3
PRICE: As reviewed, $2,066
- 4.3-inch touchscreen
- six-channel version includes additional inputs for 5.1
- a la carte option for additional instruments
In the past few years, the world of network delivery specifications has been around the world and back. A large percentage of my job as a re-recording mixer is to make it sound good, but the real looming fate of “will it pass QC” is what will keep clients coming back. That is where the RTW TouchMonitor TM3 comes into play.
With the CALM act officially in place as of December 12, 2012, commercials have had their volume level requirements evened out, and networks have followed suit with their programming.
Simply put, the CALM act requires all commercials to have the same average level so that you don’t have to jump for your remote and play that lower, louder, lower dance you do, when they interrupt the broadcast.
In turn, networks (which once had varyingly different volume requirements) followed suit. In my day to day at Postworks in NY, I mix tons of long-format programming, and every show that goes out the door must adhere strictly to the level requirements per network. In truth, I use all types of metering to make sure levels are sitting where they are supposed to be, even the old occasional redundancy check so I can go home and sleep at night.
When I got my hands on the TM3, I knew immediately it was a serious piece of gear that I could trust. Upon powering it on, you are greeted with a fairly slick, clean graphical HUI coming off a 4.3-inch touchscreen. Hooking it up any which way is possible with analog ¼-inch and RCA, SPDIF and digital inputs via a 25-pin D-sub connector.
The six-channel version includes additional inputs for 5.1. But under the hood is where it gets pretty intensive. The touchscreen allows you to quickly switch between presets, but when you connect it to your computer via USB you can create your own fully-customizable presets. This is where things get really fun.
There are options galore. EBU R128, ITU-R BS1770-3/1771, ATSC A/85, ARIB or customer specific loudness metering options are available. Loudness instruments include single-channel and summing bar graphs, loudness range and numerical displays. It also measures the “hot new trend” in specs: True Peak. You get to choose placement and how big or small each and every loudness instrument is on the touchscreen.
RTW has an a la carte option where you can purchase additional instruments such as the moving coil option for the display of needle instruments such as a VU meter. All this flexibility is amazing since everyday is a potentially different job, with new specs for mixers to follow. This product allows each engineer to be able to cater to those presets to make them feel most comfortable, plus the fact that it’s dead accurate is a huge advantage.
I can create the most unique sound design and provide the fullest sounding mix, but at the end of the day if it fails network QC — all that work could be for nothing because in the client’s eyes, the job requirements weren’t fulfilled. No one wants to work with an engineer who you feel uneasy leaving your final audio with.
I compared the RTW TM3 to the other metering options I currently use to find that I felt a sense of accuracy with the TM3. Sure the plug-in versions were equally as dead-on in the long-term readings, but there is a bit of a lag when getting the short-term loudness readings. The TM3 is seemingly realtime accurate. This meter is the equivalent of a luxury car. Sure you can get from point A to B in your (insert poorly made vehicle here), but the ride is way cooler and nicer in your TM3. Price point may very well be a big deciding factor though. There are cheaper metering options out there to get the job done, sans touchscreen and customizable features.
The RTW TM3 is a fully customizable touchscreen monitor that offers loudness, True Peak, PPM and SPL metering, along with dial norm and correlation. In conclusion, I believe the RTW TM3 is an exciting product. It brings the meters off the computer screen and right in front of you, which is always a good thing. It pairs accurate function with customizable form. RTW, I believe you have a contender on your hands.
Keith Hodne is a Re-Recording Mixer/Sound Engineer with Postworks New York
(www.pwny.slatemediagroup.com). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.