This article got mentioned on Slashdot, and just last night I was bitching to M. about how commercials are louder than programs. I like how the FCC responded to complaints saying there was ‘no fair way’ to define loudness.
Apparently, even though they regulate broadcasts, including radio, which is all audio, they’ve never heard of the RMS volume measurement, which does a great job of measuring perceived loudness. A broadcast signal (or CATV/Satellite signal) is obviously limited with respect to absolute volume — digitally by the word size of the transmitted signal, and in analog radio, by overmodulation. But below that absolute maximum you can compress and brickwall limit the shit out of audio.
What I noticed in watching a couple of hours of TV last night is that the worst offenders were the Apple iPhone/iPod Touch ads, which were not just effing loud, but hyped in in the 1-3khz band to where it was earbleedingly harsh. Shame on them.