Author Rob Tavaglione has updated his review of the TM3-Primus with the following clarification.—Strother Bullins, Technology Editor, NewBay Media AV/Pro Audio Group
"With the announcement of RTW’s new MM3 MusicMeter hardware-based audio monitor it becomes clear I’ve made an oversight in my review of RTW’s TM3-Primus in the April 2016 edition of Pro Sound News/Pro Audio Review. All of the TM3’s measurements are made with broadcast weighting (with more emphasis placed on certain frequency groups in the measurement), whereas the new MM3 presumably uses no weighting. Considering the exceptional operation and features of the TM3 I would revise my opinion to recommend the TM3 for broadcast applications ONLY and the MM3 for music based applications. I apologize for the oversight."
"'RTW is thrilled to break into the MI market with our new MM3 MusicMeter,” commented Andreas Tweitmann, CEO, RTW. 'By offering this new audio solution, we are giving sound engineers and mixers the opportunity to implement loudness metering into their music-based workflows and applications, something that RTW traditionally reserved for the broadcast and production market. RTW is proud to provide the MM3 MusicMeter at an affordable price for everyone in the industry; broadening the scope of its metering offerings to reach a larger audience.'"
Cologne, Germany-based RTW has produced premium metering and monitoring products for a half-century, and it’s really no longer a secret that their devices and software are attractive, accurate and fully world-class audio production tools. As its products have regularly served as OEM (original equipment manufacturer) components within many large-format consoles, for example, RTW’s software has been its only product line priced within reach of most project studios, until now.
RTW’s TouchMonitor line includes the TM3-Primus, a small (4.3-inch) powerful capacitive touchscreen visual audio monitor and loudness, peak and PPM meter. The TM3-Primus is a two-channel device accepting unbalanced -10 dB signal input, digital I/O via SPDIF, or a CPU connection via micro-USB. The unit is powered via USB or a provided “wall wart,” which connects by that same micro-USB. It can be used vertically or horizontally (with a quick touchscreen swipe) and provides numerous measurements.
Its various “modules” can be selected/de-selected on the touch screen: PPM (peak program meter), which is comparatively slow like a VU); True Peak (fast), with numerical displays; Moving Coil type (VU and BBC modes); Loudness with scales for CALM and EBU, amongst others; Loudness range and Loudness chart; a Stereo correlator; phase and amplitude measurement Vectorscope (a combination of amplitude, frequency and phase); and RTA, a real-time spectrum analyzer measuring frequencies.
Some unexpected functions are to be found, too. For example, the TM3-Primus can be designated as an output device in Mac OS and take input directly from a DAW. With RTW’s complimentary USB Connect software, a 5.1 surround USB input source can be down-mixed to the SPDIF output. USB Connect can also remotely control Start, Stop and Reset functions of long-term, time-based loudness measurements—quite necessary to the modern broadcaster, film mixer, or volume-war combative mastering engineer.
My standing control room arrangement places me in a mid-field monitoring environment, further away from the TM3-Primus than most of its intended nearfield users would be. No problem: the clarity, color choices and contrast make for easy reading, with just a little practice, even at a distance. In particular, I like having the stereo correlation info readily at hand, whether tracking or mixing. I also value having an RTA running, especially when tracking, overdubbing and/or seeking out pesky frequencies. While mastering, the TM3-Primus’s loudness measurements gave me both immediate and averaged over time.
Although I’ve done more than my share of live television audio, it hasn’t been lately and I’ve never been called on to comply with ATSC or CALM, nor am I schooled in EBU standards. That said, the TM3-Primus will provide such measures. I can easily see numerous apps for such a little yet powerful remote device for the modern broadcaster who wishes to stay informed even as they leave master control for a hot minute.
My only complaint? Like a spoiled brat (or a modern iOS consumer, even) I now find myself wishing for RTW’s TM7 or TM9 featuring larger screens so I can see even more info more readily.
In use, I have found the TM3-Primus to be quite helpful, informative and easily readable in numerous audio production tasks that I routinely engage in. At $899 (direct from RTW’s website), the TM-3 Primus is an attractive hardware product with limited competition outside of competing software tools. For those with their room acoustics, monitoring and signal processing tools in check, mixes can be further refined via the increased phase agreement, peak level, frequency balance and long-term average refinements possible when relying upon a tool like RTW’s TM3-Primus. After all, a little visible audio information goes a long way.