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Audio on DVD movies (1 Viewer)

dave_brogli

Screenwriter
Joined
Mar 30, 2002
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1,021
When i watch pretty much any DVD, I have a problem.... The bangs and booms and sound effects are always real loud, but the voice is always so hard to hear.... I have messed with my receiver endlessly. I have also tried a audio setup disc, and i seems to have everything up to par. ..... Anyone know what is going on......help!!!
 

Paul_Dunlop

Second Unit
Joined
Nov 28, 2001
Messages
318
Hi

You might try moving the center channel or adjusting it so that it is firing toward your listening position. You can use rubber door stops to angle it up or down (depending on where it is mounted)

The other option is the 'Dynamic Compression' feature that is on most DVD players and receivers. It is sometimes called 'Midnight Mode' or 'Night Mode'. This increases the level of quiet spots and lowers the level of explosions and gunshots. I believe it only works on Dolby Digital though.

Hope this helps
 

dave_brogli

Screenwriter
Joined
Mar 30, 2002
Messages
1,021
Yeah I thought it may be the center speaker.... Would it make a difference that my "center" speaker is really a "bookshelf" speaker.(haha i am sure it matters alot!) I am in the process of buying all new speakers so my center and surrounds I dont think are up to there full potential. I also have tried my midnight mode... it helps but not that much. Any suggestions on a decent (75.00-150.00) Center speaker?

Thanks!
 

Adam J

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 2, 2002
Messages
64
I had the same problem and just turned down the volume on the sub. Night mode made a little difference but didn't fix the problem. I use the Star Wars Episode 1 disk when Anakin takes the fighter pilot out of the hanger to judge what the maximum bass level should be. Its a good short burst of low bass followed up by a light saber fight which should still sound boomy, but not push your sub over the max.
I am sure someone else can give you a much more technical answer but that is what worked for me :)
 

jeff cr

Agent
Joined
Mar 2, 2002
Messages
48
i think this is kind of normal, it happens on my system to. in fact i went to the theater last week to watch Jimmy Nuetron with my son (there are a lot of special effects in this movie) and during regular dialogue the voices and such were real low but when the effects came on it was very very loud. i find when i'm watching movies i have to fiddle with the volume a little during the movie because some parts are loud and others are not.
 

Dave Poehlman

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2000
Messages
3,813
This generally happens to me when I am watching something on my plain ol' two channel stereo setup in my livingroom.

I always just wrote it off as surround encoding not being weeded out and rear channel and front channel info being sent to my speakers.
 

Paul_Dunlop

Second Unit
Joined
Nov 28, 2001
Messages
318
Hi Dave_Brogli

Actually some suggest that using identical bookshelf speakers for all 5 is the best setup.

When i started into the 5.1 game, i purchased a receiver and a center channel first. I used crap fronts and surrounds for the first 6 months. Then i bought new fronts, waited 5 months and bought new fronts, and moved the others to the surrounds.

My suggestion is to pick the 5.1 setup that you want - by this i mean the Make and Model ie. Energy make, XL model. Decide / forecast how long it will take to buy all 5 speakers. You don't want to pick a model line that has been out for 4 years, if you will take 2 years to buy all of them, since they may get discontinued before you are finished. Research speakers recommended on this forum and then perform your listening tests.

Then begin purchasing as your budget permits. Buy either the center or fronts first. These will make the biggest difference right away. Then buy the surrounds and Sub.

Then sit back and enjoy the sound

Take it easy
 

Harold_C

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 1, 2002
Messages
198
When i watch pretty much any DVD, I have a problem.... The bangs and booms and sound effects are always real loud, but the voice is always so hard to hear.... I have messed with my receiver endlessly. I have also tried a audio setup disc, and i seems to have everything up to par. ..... Anyone know what is going on......help!!!
This is a very common complaint. Understand that Dolby Digital offers more dynamic range (the difference between the quietest and loudest sounds) than any consumer format has ever offered.

With movies, you have have to get the overall playback level loud enough that dialog sounds natural and is intelligible. But, with Dolby Digital recordings, particularly of action movies, this is going to make the loud "action" scenes very, very loud.

This is a problem for both movie theaters and home theaters. The natural response to "too loud" is to turn down the volume. But, now the dialog is too quiet to be intelligible.

Dolby anticipated this problem and designed a great feature in the Dolby Digital format -- dynamic range compensation.

Your receiver should have a feature buried in the setup menus that allows you to reduce the dynamic range of Dolby Digital soundtracks. There should be a setting that decreases the loudest sounds by 10dB, increases the quietest sounds (like crickets chirping), and leaves the dialog completely unchanged. There should also be a milder setting that does the same thing, but only reducing the loudest sounds by 5 dB. Both of these setting will help a bunch with your problem. You can go ahead and crank the volume up to where the dialog is intelligible without worrying about the chase scenes peeling plaster.

Unfortunate, receiver manufacturers do an absolutely horrible job of labelling (and explaining) these settings. So I can't tell you exactly which setting is which on your receiver.
 

Mike Matheson

Second Unit
Joined
Jul 15, 2000
Messages
416
You could try bumping up the level setting on the center speaker--since most dialog comes through here, that might effectively raise its volume.
 

Vasanth B

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Aug 18, 2001
Messages
61
Harold's suggestion is an excellent one and I think your best solution. Once you have calibrated your system using Avia or Video Essentials, turn the volume up to reference level (what you set as reference with the disc)...then activate the dynamic range compression for Dolby Digital on your receiver. This may be labeled as "D.Comp" or "Night Mode" I find I have to use the highest setting on my Denon 1802 to keep my neighbors from complaining at night. (or it seems at any time. :angry:)
Once you have the setting enabled, you can adjust the volume so dialog is clearly heard.
If you still can't hear, then as a last resort bump up the center channel by 2-3dB. It will throw off your calibration, but some people need that extra push in the center to hear dialog clearly.
Oh, and BTW, D.Comp does NOT work on DTS soundtracks or 2 channel Dolby Surround.
 

Marc Rochkind

Second Unit
Joined
Aug 26, 2000
Messages
381
Just to offer a somewhat different perspective, the "problem" is that Dolby Digital and all the equipment that goes with it is designed to reproduce the sound the way it was engineered by the creators of the movie, and the equipment is getting better at it all the time.

In real life, an explosion is very LOUD, much, much louder than conversatoin. The more realistic the movie sound, the more this will be true. So, with dialog "normal," the really loud sounds should really blow the roof off.

All of the suggestions above, while effective, are also compromising the goal of accurate playback.

Not that I disagree with this compromise. The reality is than most of us have no choice, and don't care to be punished by the sounds in movies. We just want to watch the ACTORS being punished!
 

Harold_C

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 1, 2002
Messages
198
Just to offer a somewhat different perspective, the "problem" is that Dolby Digital and all the equipment that goes with it is designed to reproduce the sound the way it was engineered by the creators of the movie, and the equipment is getting better at it all the time.
Actually, the problem is that the "creators of the movies" are irresponsible and/or incompetent in the way they mix films.

The issue of "too loud" is far bigger in the movie theater industry than it is at home. For one thing, theater sound systems are generally woefully underpowered and they distort like crazy with today's action movies at Dolby reference levels. Apparently, the day "Twister" opened, it blew up subwoofers and surround speakers literally across America.

Dolby had a great idea with the available dynamic range. As someone who has been fooling around with hifi for about 30 years, I think the dynamic range offered by Dolby Digital is the greatest thing since sliced bread. But, the sound mixers are supposed to use a little common sense. Dolby never figured that these guys would record 80 minutes of a 90 minute feature at digital full-scale levels. Just because the headroom is there, you don't HAVE to use it for the entire duration of the film.

What has happened is that Dolby's decade long effort to standardize playback levels has gone down the toilet because these action movies played on typical theater sound systems at suggested Dolby reference levels are making people's ears bleed. As a result, virtually every theater in America has its playback levels set 5 to 6 dB below calibrated Dolby levels because of customer complaints. Now, when a properly mixed movie comes along, nobody can hear the dialog. For example, check out the latest Star Wars movie. It's mixed at perfect levels. Bet you have to play it at least 3 dB louder than you do any other action movie.

This is a major problem in the film industry right now and the blame really does lie with the movie creators -- not the capability of the Dolby Digital format.
 

Adam J

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 2, 2002
Messages
64
I upped my center channel by 2 decibels as well. Didn't mention it earlier cause I thought I might get flogged :P
Anyhow, I am happy with how my system sounds and whether I am an idiot or a genius you have to respect that.
Btw, I am not a genius.
 

RobertCharlotte

Supporting Actor
Joined
Feb 21, 2002
Messages
660
Just because the headroom is there, you don't HAVE to use it for the entire duration of the film.
I have to say, I agree with this to some extent. I remember when you could watch one movie and you might notice when something blew up in the movie showing in the next theater over. I swear, I was watching a movie last weekend and I think I could tell when someone slammed a door in the next theater.
 

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