BBC tech tool aces annoying tennis grunters

Noise reduction download lets radio listeners stifle the shriekers from Wimbledon.

NetMix
BBC

It's right up there with the sound of nails clawing a chalk board. Scratch that. It's far worse.

Each year, it seems, the on-court shrieks and grunting of professional tennis players gets louder and louder with seemingly no solution in sight. But now technology is coming to the rescue in what fed-up tennis fans will surely welcome as a hopeful harbinger.

The BBC has announced a downloadable noise reduction product it calls Wimbledon Net Mix that will let people listening to the Wimbledon tennis tourney control the decibel levels from the match. (It was co-developed with German technology institute Fraunhofer.)

In a statement, the Beeb, which described the technology as an "experiment," said listeners will be able to "adjust the commentary level relative to the sound of the court: the crowd, base-line grunting and ball. For technical reasons the experiment will only be available during live coverage of matches from Center Court. The player may need manual configuration within some corporate firewalls."

The tool is currently only available for BBC Radio 5 Live transmissions, but it may be introduced to other broadcasting platforms if successful.

Wimbledon Chief Executive Ian Ritchie recently singled out women tennis players for overdoing it with the loud grunts, saying that it's spoiling he games for the fans. In an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph, he said it would be "helpful to reduce the amount of grunting" that goes on.

"We are one tournament in a global circuit," he said. "But we have made our views clear and we would like to see less of it."

Amen to that.

This story originally appeared on CBSNews.com.

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