When I watch TV at home, I make certain the volume of my programming is just right, as to maximize my television viewing enjoyment [Note: As I am haplessly sans cable at the moment, when I say “programming,” I’m pretty much talking about football, 60 Minutes, or local school board meetings on NY1 where dudes tend to passionately orate about funding, or budgets, or community matters that I’m unable to fully grasp. Still, it’s compelling…]. I’ve got my TV hooked up through some pretty decent speakers—I even have a sub-woofer—so I gotta make sure I’ve got both my television and my speaker volumes just right, not to mention the treble and bass levels, which tend to vary significantly between stations. Suffice to say, when I sit down in front of my boob tube, I want that shit sounding right. So I’m sure you can imagine how infuriating it is when I’m bombarded with the blaring, relentless cacophony that has become the norm for virtually every commercial break. Terrible!
I’m sure you’ve noticed—commercials are loud as shit these days. What’s up with that? Well, in the tradition of Modern Jackass, I did some pseudo-illegitimate internet research on the topic (I googled “tv commercials loud”), in the hopes that I could shed some light on the subject, so that you, the intrepid Modern Jackass reader, will be able to say that you read somewhere that someone said something about TV commercials being excessively loud and that it’s a total outrage etc etc etc. It’s good to be informed. Here’s what I came up with:
It turns out, apparently, that commercials are not actually louder than regular programming, but rather, that they just sound louder than anything else on TV. Well, wait a second. That doesn’t make a god darn shred of sense, now does it? Just wait, reader. Allow me to explain. Regular TV shows and commercials both have the same peak audio limitations, dictated by the broadcasters who air them. That is, the loudest part of a TV show will be just as loud as the loudest part of a commercial. That said, while TV shows use audio dynamics to enhance drama and nuance, commercials tend to mix all audio tracks, from music to voice-over to sound effects, at levels much closer to peak in an effort to grab your attention, presumably so that you’ll say to yourself, “wow, this announcer is so fucking loud! This product must be incredible!” The result is a constant, lingering uneasiness that has become an inherent part of watching television—I’m trying to enjoy this week’s designs on Project Runway, but I keep getting distracted by reminding myself that I need to grab the remote control before the commercial. Then Tim Gunn starts getting all sassy and of course I get wrapped up in it and—shit! The commercial! So loud! Deeeeaaath!!!
While there appear to be volume regulators that will allegedly spare you this horrible fate for the low price of $29.99, I say this in response to those contraptions: I shouldn’t have to buy some fanciful gizmo to enjoy television in the comfort of my own home! I set my TV to a certain volume, and that should be it. There are few things more American than the television set (though it was invented by a German), and tinkering with a man’s volume choice is simply an affront to freedom. Instead of debating ad nauseum over how much murder and ass-crack you can show on primetime, the FCC should be “cracking” down on something else entirely—these slippery ad men who think they can pull a fast one on the good people of this nation with their deafening advertisements. If I can’t have the freedom to stare mindlessly at my television set, watching the programs I want at the volume I’ve selected, then I dare say I don’t think I know what freedom is anymore.