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10 l August 2012

technologyreview RTW TM3Audio Monitor

As the loudness wars rage on, there’s a new line of defence in the form of the RTW TM3 Audio Monitor. Russ Hepworth-Sawyer goes on a diplomatic mission

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY fTM3-6CH –£1,495 (ex-VAT) TM3 (2CH) –£1,085 (ex-VAT)

Available from Aspen Media Phone: +44 (0)1296 681313

TECH SPECS f480 x 272 pixel 11cm

touchscreen for vertical or horizontal use

fFlexible display layout with scalable instruments

fSeparate interface box with audio I/O, USB, GPIO

THE ‘LOUDNESSwars’ continue to provide fodder for technological debate and development, be they related to over-zealous compression in the mastering of music, or changes in perceived levels between broadcast programme material. Certainly, it’s received plenty of coverage in PSNEurope and online at The pro-audio industry is tackling the issue with a number of proposed systems and standards; the most widely publicised and recognised being the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) BS.1770-2 for measuring loudness and True Peak levels, and the European Broadcast Union (EBU) R128 standard of Loudness Normalisation with a unit called Loudness Range (LRA), measuring loudness over time rather than a peak. To be able to work with these

standards in a practical sense, we need to measure them, and this is where the RTW TM3 Audio Monitor comes in. The baby brother of the TM9 and TM7, the TM3 is supplied in several flavours: the two-channel SOLO, shipped without a power supply unit (PSU); or the TM3 standard (with PSU) which is upgradeable to the 5.1-enabled TM3-6CH (reviewed here) via a software licence. The TM3 display – a colourful 11cm touchscreen sheathed in powder-coated steel – is so attractive you’d be excused for thinking it was a smartphone if it were not for the integral desktop stand. The TM3 works in both landscape and portrait modes, though the user must ‘swipe’ between the 10 presets as there’s no motion sensor.

The USB interface unleashes the true armoury of the TM3 via the DC1 Devicer Software supplied for firmware updates, be they further metering standards as they emerge, or additional preset configurations. Peak Programme Meters (PPM) on the DIN and BRIIA standards are available from analogue signals. The TM3 also digitally meters loudness against all the current standards and it does so very clearly indeed. For someone working in predominately stereo, it’s a shame the TM3 does not offer the same classic VU meters as on the TM7 – perhaps this is something that could come with a future update? After mastering through the

The TM3 works in both landscape and portrait modes Top: Accompanying interface box

In an age where there’s a plug-

in for everything, it is surprising to prefer the hardware alternative. However, the TM3 is so delicately accurate and informative, you may really fall for it. The resolution isn’t quite Retina Display, but perfectly resolute to see small peak figures from the proper distance of 40cm or so. TM3’s ‘interface box’ is not so

optimum though as it’s fiddly to place neatly in the studio. A ½U-rack mountable box might have been more appropriate. Additionally, connecting the display unit’s HDMI plug into the interface box was not as simple as you’d expect. Using

the perforations as a visual window, I needed to guide the plug inside the casing some 10mm before it engaged with the PCB-mounted HDMI socket. Through a 25-pin D-SUB connection the necessary AES3 signals can be looped-through the TM3 up to 5.1 (depending on the model); there are inputs for both analogue and SPDIF signals too. The TM3 comes pre-loaded with 10 factory presets plus a demo mode if you just want moving meters! However the fun is using the software to create personalised configurations with a mixture of metering solutions to your needs.

TM3 for over a month I’m going to find it hard to give back as it provides a new window through which I see my work. Finding a mean loudness normalisation level within an album’s material can be sought with ease, and independently of the GUI of Pyramix. TM3-6CH’s can also do this over 5.1 alerting you to the overall loudness unit of a surround sound programme. As such the TM3 should gain a home with many a broadcast house. Overall this is a well-

conceived and attractive device that improves your work. Metering of this detail and quality comes at a price. For those having to, or wishing to, adhere to new standards that set us free from the loudness wars, the TM3 is well worth it. This dedicated, detailed and updateable hardware unit is a must for all those wishing to work towards an evenly balanced peace. n

fBalanced and unbalanced stereo analogue inputs

fSPDIF input and output

f3 x 2-channel AES3 loopthrough digital I/O (for 6-channel use)

fPersonalisation with Devicer DC1 software (Mac and PC)

PROS fNeat, attractive solution

fAccurate metering

fWide range of metering relevant to standards EBU R128, ITU-R BS.1770-2/1771, ATSC A/85, and ARIB

fUpdateable and configurable through Mac/PC software provided

CONS fInterface box awkward to install

fExternal power adapter

fHDMI connection for display potentially fragile

fNo VU meters as found with the bigger TM7

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