18 May 2012

Loud Commercials

Welcome back. Now, I’m sure the Great Recession is ending. Listening to the radio before jogging this morning, I heard a thunderous commercial for an area car dealer. It’s hard to associate anything good with the recession, but I’ve definitely appreciated the absence of drum-major led, marching-band backed, car dealer ads.

My reaction is unrelated to my passion for car salesmen, expressed in an early blog post. It’s solely attributed to my distaste for anything that’s unnecessarily loud.

Loud Music
Take music. Some music should be played loudly. Go back to my Valentine blog post, which featured the Troggs’ Wild Thing. That should be loud. In contrast, it’s arguable whether much of the music my son, Noah, listens to should even be heard. 

The subwoofer amp fills less than half
of this car trunk, which is a big step
down from Noah’s former car.
Nevertheless, Noah believes the primary purpose of a car trunk is to accommodate a subwoofer with an amplifier. In his first car, the sound system filled most of the trunk. He diligently left spaces for a limited number of objects as long as those objects were small, compressible or flexible. I’ve no idea where he put four speakers.

It’s not that Noah goes off the decibel scale when he’s driving. Our house doesn’t vibrate excessively when he approaches. Neighbors haven’t commented, though it’s possible they haven’t connected him to last summer's earthquake yet.

My wife, Vicki, had to drive his car once. It was touch and go there for a while. She really got into the boom-da-boom-da-boom bass and almost considered adding a subwoofer amp to her small SUV: Vicki, the Wisconsin Resonator.

Clearly, there’s a limit to how loud even good music should be played. In the mid-'80s, Vicki and I went to a concert where Johnny Rivers opened for Roy Orbison. We sat in the wrong place (i.e., closer than half a mile) and suffered. Who knew we were supposed to take earplugs?
Earplugs not taken
to the rock concert.

Loudness Law

Music aside, there’s no radio commercial that warrants audio adjustment; certainly not an ad for car dealers and most certainly not one played in the peaceful predawn hour when I’m listening. It doesn’t cause me to pay attention. It causes me to stick another pin into my car-dealer voodoo doll.

There ought to be a law. And by gosh, there is a new law--for television. As reported on the Federal Communications Commission website:

“[FCC] rules will soon require commercials to have the same average volume as the programs they accompany. In the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, Congress directed the FCC to establish these rules, and they will go into effect on December 13, 2012.”

What about radio? I may be the only listener at that early hour, but I’m not the only one complaining about radio commercials. Shall I organize a protest movement? Do we start with our congressmen? Oh, they’re too busy doing…something. The FCC? I could at least take it up with the radio station.

Wrap Up
If I start with the radio station, I could also ask the station to stop cramming in predawn public service announcements. Broadcasting the same public service message every 15 minutes is a bit much. There’s one ditty sung by a female group that I heard for a month before I realized it was a warning about heart attack symptoms. Listening carefully, I still can’t understand all the words. At least it’s not loud.
The radio and television commercials I like best are those that end with speedy warnings and disclaimers. Whoosh! How quickly can you say, “Forget everything we promised during the first 27 seconds of this ad”?
I hope you won’t forget everything you just read. Thanks for stopping by.

1 comment:

  1. 18 05 12

    Very good. Only one part that bothers me - the CALM Act. Is that really, REALLY true? (I suppose I could ask Mr Snopes.) I have a suggestion - instead of yet another federal law or reg, why not just lower the volume - or turn off the TV - when we don't like something? Wait - maybe this calls for an invention that measures the dBs and equalizes the sound? Should be an easy feedback system for an electronics guy to design.