Audio levels on DVDs

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by geoff dixon, Sep 5, 2002.

  1. geoff dixon

    geoff dixon Agent

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    Could anyone advise why a lot of DVDs need a higher audio level?
    For example my system is well balanced and often depending on the DVD content i.e movies in particular, I find the centre dialogue channel always a lot lower, the surrounds appear to be over done on a lot of action movies. Dynamic range is one thing, but I suspect other reasonings on this observation, I have had similer comments from a lot of my contempories, I hired out "THE THIRTEEN GHOSTS" a new release here in Australia to find the center channel way down and with a lot of fiddling to hear a proper voice.
    I listen in all formats Stereo, 5.1 DTS and the variation in levels are very noticible, do we have to suffer good video transfers at the expense of the audio channels any advice would be welcome.
     
  2. ColinM

    ColinM Cinematographer

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    Do you use an SPL meter to calibrate?

    If yes, and voices are still too low, the director of the flick wants you to listen to it louder overall, that's all. The only way around it is to either jack up the center level or engage "night mode" to flatten out the dynamic range.

    My .02
     
  3. Gordon Moore

    Gordon Moore Second Unit

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  4. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Lead Actor

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    Once you have your system properly configured and calibrated, you should never have to make and serious adjustments. If you have never calibrated, then chance are that your setup is waaaaaay out of spec, and thus you have to adjust all the time.

    Keep in mind, however, that DVD is a true dynamic format-- so some people find that even with calibrated level, the find the dialog "too low"-- which is actually a bit of a misnomer, as the truth is they find the effects TOO LOUD, and thus reduce the overall volume and lose the voices in the process.

    You should ABSOLUTELY track down a SPL meter and calibration tones, and setup your system properly. After that, if you still find the effects levels too loud when compared to the dialog, you could try the DYNAMIC RANGE COMPRESSION feature of your receiver.

    Vince
     
  5. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Variation in sound levels from disc to disc is something you just have to live with. Even with a properly calibrated system (a MUST), you have no control over how a particular mix is done in the studio.
     
  6. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    While there are a few disks that seem to have the center level funny, this is the exception.

    You really DO need to use a SPL meter to adjust the center volume to match the L/R. But ... you may have your speakers positioned so that the sound from the L/R speakers over-power the center volume.

    Before you use the SPL meter, try and change your speaker placement. Here are some good guidelines:

    - If your center speaker is on top of your TV, make sure to pull it forward so it over-hangs the front of the TV by at least 1/4 inch.

    - Make some "feet" to get the center speaker up off the TV cabinent. Rubber door-wedges, rubber erasers or even paperback-books work well. The door-wedges also give a bit of tilt to the speaker to help point it at your head.

    - Use a laser-pen to see where your L/R speakers are pointing. I find that having my L/R speakers pointed so the beam from each intersects 1-2 feet behind my head gives the best sound for my speakers.

    Do all of this adjustment, THEN use the SPL meter and test tones to adjust the levels.

    Hope this helps.
     
  7. geoff dixon

    geoff dixon Agent

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    Thanks guys for the advice I have set up system with a SPL meter thats the first thing I did, the fact is the mix often presents a lower dialogue on a lot of DVDs, I have discs in the DTS format which are always excellent I have DD/ 5.1 . Some are poor, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" is disgustingly low at the introduction, in comparison to the rest of the DVD."American Beauty" is another, I have made this observation on many discs, and all the set ups via SPL do not mask deficiencies in software shortcomings. Dynamic Range and Dynamic Compression are fine suggestions, thanks! but the real shortcomings are in the production of DVDs and a quality control shortfall and lazy transfers, We get a lot of "crap" out here in Australia comparered to the rest of the civilised world.[​IMG]
     
  8. chiante

    chiante Agent

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    If you think Thirteen Ghosts is bad, try The Others. It's the worst sounding dvd as far as volume level I've ever seen.
     

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