Have you ever been scrolling through Reels or Stories and had to quickly fumble to turn down the volume due to inconsistent audio levels between each Reel or frame? On one clip, you can hardly hear anything at all, so you turn it up, then the next video comes booming out at full volume, screeching the latest pop song backing track.
That can be annoying, and potentially embarrassing – and now, Meta’s working to address it. Over on the Meta Engineering blog, it’s outlined how it’s implemented xHE-AAC across Facebook and Instagram Reels and Stories, which is a new type of audio encoding that corrects for variable audio levels, while also maximizing playback consistency.
As explained by Meta:
“With hundreds of millions of uploads per day across Facebook and Instagram, we receive audio tracks with loudness levels ranging from silence to full scale, and everything in between. xHE-AAC’s integrated loudness management system solves for loudness inconsistency while meticulously preserving creator intent by bringing the average loudness of all sessions to the same target level and managing the dynamic range of each session to fit the playback environment.”
In layman’s terms, no more ridiculously loud/soft audio playback, as all audio tracks are corrected to the same level. Of course, that won’t save you from videos with no sound versus videos with, but it will ensure that there’s a level of reliability in your volume controls, which can make for a better user experience.
The system also implements adaptive bit rate playback, which will also provide more stability in the playback.
“By placing an IPF at the beginning of each Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) segment and aligning the segment durations of each lane, we can seamlessly switch between audio lanes during playback to provide the highest-quality audio at any available bandwidth while avoiding playback stalls.”
So if you’re in an area of low connectivity, making audio download rates inconsistent, the system will dynamically correct the playback to ensure smoother performance.
Basically, the updated audio process will ensure better, more responsive audio in Stories and Reels, improving the user experience. It’s not a major change, but it could save you from embarrassing yourself, or blowing out your eardrums, as you scroll.
Meta says the new audio system is now available within Reels and Stories in the latest versions of Facebook and Instagram.