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DTS 6.1 sound tracks are not as Loud as DD EX soundtracks


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48 replies to this topic

#1 of 49 OFFLINE   Jon_Gregory

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Posted January 27 2004 - 03:16 AM

I have a Onkyo tx-sr501 receiver and I was wondering if anyone else notices this. When I choose the DTS soundtracks on some of my DVDs, I have to turn the volume up louder than I do on the DD EX. Is there an explanation for this? And DTS material just seems not to be as vibrant of a sound as the DD soundtracks on my onkyo.

Some of the DVD's that I have noticed this on include:
LOTR, The Two towers
Gladiator

Just to name a few.
This seems to be across the board when I listen to 6.1 DTS material.

#2 of 49 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 27 2004 - 03:25 AM

It would be helpful if you listed specific titles. You might also want to specify the specific model of your receiver and whether you're playing DTS-ES matrix or 6.1 discrete tracks.

It's a toss-up whether this belongs in the Receivers forum or Software. I'll move it to the latter.

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#3 of 49 OFFLINE   richardWI

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Posted January 27 2004 - 04:22 AM

Not as loud, or not as compressed as the DD track? When I listen to LOTR:TT the DD has a squashed dynamic range when compared to the DTS track. The DD track seems louder but it has more to do with the dynamic range being squeezed into a more limited range. When you listen to a rock song on the radio, doesn't it sometimes seem louder than your CD? Objectively, it's not so much louder as it is comprssed for radio: the softer sounds are louder and the louder sounds aren't quite as loud.

The advantage of DTS is that it can have a more natural dynamic range than DD. DD has dialogue nominalization, which is a similar process to compression, which also homgenizes the sound.

#4 of 49 OFFLINE   Michael St. Clair

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Posted January 27 2004 - 05:05 AM

Quote:
The advantage of DTS is that it can have a more natural dynamic range than DD.


Do you have a source for such an objective claim?

#5 of 49 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 27 2004 - 05:44 AM

Quote:
DD has dialogue nominalization, which is a similar process to compression

No it isn't. Dialnorm is a completely different animal and has nothing at all to do with compression. This has been covered on HTF (and elsewhere) many times.

Quote:
Do you have a source for such an objective claim?

The answer, as anyone who's participated in these threads already knows, is "no". We've long ago established that there is no objective evidence for the various preferences among sound formats. This thread should not rehash old arguments, but should address the specific question asked by Jon_Gregory. At this point, we are simply waiting for him to provide more information, so that someone can attempt to do so.

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#6 of 49 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted January 27 2004 - 06:16 AM

BTW, does anybody know where I can find the article "The Death Of Dynamic Range: the CD Loudness Wars" that used to be here: http://rvcc2.raritan...tek9053/cdpage/

It's a fantastic article, and the easiest way I've found to educate people about the severe problems in current CD mastering... plus, it has at least a bit of relevance for this discussion.
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#7 of 49 OFFLINE   Josh Simpson

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Posted January 27 2004 - 06:35 AM

Jon, I just put in TTT EE last night and the DTS did sound softer than the DD. I never really noticed it before, but it was. Actually, in the battle at Helm's deep, the DTS was louder, so I think I'm going along with the DTS not being as compressed as the DD theory...

#8 of 49 OFFLINE   Scott Burke

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Posted January 27 2004 - 07:28 AM

I chimmed in about this on another thread at how suprised I was with DTS. I thought that the tracks would be louder since people were talking about the tracks being "cooked". However, all of the DTS tracks that I have listened to are quieter. However, when I mentioned this in the other thread I was told I was insighting a DD vs. DTS thread which I was not trying to do.

I have a Denon 1800 reciever and a Sony DVP-NC665P player connected with an coaxial monster cable. All levels are set using a RS SPL meter (analog). I also noticed this on the LOTR:TT EE.

#9 of 49 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 27 2004 - 07:43 AM

Quote:
the DTS was louder, so I think I'm going along with the DTS not being as compressed as the DD theory...

Loudness and digital compression have nothing to do with each other.

I believe that all of the LOTR discs have a DD dialnorm setting that is different from the default setting on the DD encoder, which is -27dBFS. The LOTR discs are set at -31dBFS, which causes the decoder to play the track without the -4db volume attenuation that is the norm. That's why those tracks routinely sound "loud". As to why the DD track would sound louder than the DTS, there are probably a number of subjective variables at play.

Question for Jon: Has your system been calibrated with test tones and a sound pressure level ("SPL") meter?

M.
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#10 of 49 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted January 27 2004 - 07:46 AM

Quote:
Loudness and digital compression have nothing to do with each other.
Michael, I suspect Josh is talking about "dynamic compression" (which has a great deal to do with loudness). It's an interesting theory, and I wouldn't be shocked to learn that Dolby Digital tracks are more often over-maximized than DTS tracks. But I suspect this is more of a title-to-title difference than a DTS vs. DD difference.
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#11 of 49 OFFLINE   CraigF

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Posted January 27 2004 - 07:52 AM

Well, if a soundtrack isn't loud enough, I just turn it up! I don't mean to ridicule, just be pragmatic. If the dialogue isn't loud enough for my taste, I boost the center level (for 5.1). Yup, I got all the whizz-bang setup instruments, and some pretty fancy stand-alone ones, but I can't control what was recorded so sometimes I have to make adjustments: don't be afraid to, don't think you set up your receiver/decoder once and never have to play with it again (OK, you can do that, but don't feel constrained to). There is no standard for recording levels on DVD, some DD 5.1 tracks I really have to crank up, typically for ones that were originally mono/stereo.

TTT is an example where most people preferred the DD over the dts. Generally I prefer the dts. Sometimes there's almost no difference between dts/DD, sometimes there's a big difference, may have even been made from different sources, and certainly by different people with different objectives/taste and possibly different bitrate allocations too.

#12 of 49 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 27 2004 - 07:56 AM

Quote:
Michael, I suspect Josh is talking about "dynamic compression" (which has a great deal to do with loudness).

You may be right, Rich, which is why I added the word "digital" before "compression".

DD's dynamic range compression is defeatable on most receivers and processors; so it shouldn't be a factor here. (Dialnorm, by contrast, is almost never defeatable, though I often wish it was.)

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#13 of 49 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted January 27 2004 - 08:15 AM

Quote:
DD's dynamic range compression is defeatable on most receivers and processors
Not if it was mastered too loudly. That is, one can compress a DD-track's dynamic range even further than it might already be, but one cannot "decompress" the original mastering.

Like all media, the DVD is not capable of reproducing an unlimited range of dynamics. If they make the soft parts "too loud", the loudest parts will exceed the upper dynamic range of the disc. When the volume is goosed beyond the upper limits of the dynamic range, the waveforms are literally "chopped off", or (as is usually the case) they are smoothed over with limiters and compressors (the techie guys can explain this better). The end result is a "louder" disc, that is, the soft parts are louder than they otherwise would be, but it will still hit that brickwall. And exceeding that brickwall results in distortion.

It's exactly like pushing "into the red" for those of you who remember dubbing cassette tapes. That red line is the upper limit of the cassette tape's dynamic range, and well recorded tape--or CD or DVD or etc.--has only the very loudest sound that occurs within the entire program hitting this level... not exceeding it.

Anyway, that's what I think Josh was referring to. Posted Image
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#14 of 49 OFFLINE   Jon_Gregory

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Posted January 27 2004 - 08:15 AM

Well this thread has gone somewhere I guess, but I don't know where.

I was just currious as to what caused this difference in volume on the DVD's. Thanks for all of the information on compression and all.

I have my Onkyo tx-sr501 receiver hooked up via optical cable to my DVD player and to the TV. I don't know if this has anything to do with this. I am pretty new to all of this HT stuff, but understand it all mostly.

I poped in LOTR: TT and payed a little bit closer attention to the sound and there is a defference of about 3 points on my receiver volume. For example, with DD, my receiver is set at 40 and with DTS I have to set it to 43 to obtain the same volume. And even more sometimes in the softer scenes.

I was just currious. I did not mean to start a DD vs. DTS thread.

#15 of 49 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted January 27 2004 - 08:21 AM

Jon, have you never noticed that some CDs (particularly rock/pop ones made in the last 5 years or so) sound louder than others? This is what I was referring to vis "The Death of Dynamic Range". There's a mastering disease going on right now, all in the name of the "loudness wars".

In other words, this is not extraneous info. This is very possibly the answer to your question.

Simply put, a disc should be mastered so that no sound exceeds the dynamic range a DVD is capable of reproducing. Beyond that, making it loud (or soft) should be a function NOT of the mastering, but of your hand and the volume knob.
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#16 of 49 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 27 2004 - 08:27 AM

Quote:
Not if it was mastered too loudly.

We appear to be talking about different things. I agree that something that's not been included in the digital recording can't be replaced. I'm talking about the metadata in the DD stream that can be used by the decoder to attenuate loud passages for late-night viewing or similar circumstances.

Quote:
Anyway, that's what I think Josh was referring to.
I find that unlikely, since Josh expressly drew a contrast between DTS and DD "compression", and DTS has no setting that's equivalent to DD's dynamic range control.

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#17 of 49 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted January 27 2004 - 08:40 AM

Rather than speculate as to what Josh intended, let me simply suggest that this might be the case: some DVDs may be over-maximized, that is, they exceed the limits of their dynamic range, that is, they are mastered "too loud" like a cassette tape that was recorded with the output levels pushed into the "red zone".

(This is easily shown for CDs by ripping the contents and doing a waveform analyses, and I suspect the same can be done for DVDs by those more technically proficient than I.)

Further, it's at least possible that this is a worse practice among DD mastering than DTS mastering, which would make DD tracks sound "louder" than DTS tracks (but at the expense of presenting the track in its full dynamic range, and the distortion that comes with exceeding the upper limits of DVD's range). Arguably, this "problem", if it even is a problem, is likely more of a disc-to-disc thing than a DTS vs DD thing (as it's dependent upon the mastering engineers who presumably could get it right or wrong regardless of which digital compression scheme they're using).

But I'm just speculating... Posted Image
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Two together are always going somewhere."

#18 of 49 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 27 2004 - 08:53 AM

Quote:
it's at least possible that this is a worse practice among DD mastering than DTS mastering, which would make DD tracks sound "louder" than DTS tracks
As the saying goes, anything is "possible". Posted Image

But not likely in this instance. It's a relatively recent phenomenon to have people talking about the DD tracks being louder. My own experience has generally been the opposite, although I freely admit that there are hundreds of tracks to which I've never listened.

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#19 of 49 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted January 27 2004 - 08:57 AM

This issue has only been talked to death in music circles... certainly some audio-minded, home-theater types have questioned this? Anybody?
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#20 of 49 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted January 27 2004 - 09:06 AM

We're in serious danger of hijacking Jon's thread. Rich, this sounds like a topic worthy of its own thread here. Care to start one (I'm not sure what it would be called, but I'm pretty sure you can come up with something more applicable than the title of this thread. Posted Image )

Jon, you may want to look at the threads discussing specific titles, especially LOTR:TTT. It's not uncommon in those threads for people to report on their own comparisons of the various audio tracks. Maybe others have experiences similar to yours. (I don't own that disc.)

As for Gladiator, which is the other title you mentioned, it's been pretty well established that the masters used for the DD and DTS tracks are different. So it's not surprising that you're encountering differences in volume (among other things).

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