Does anyone know what processors are used in movie theaters? Is it Lexicon?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Keir H, May 29, 2002.

  1. Keir H

    Keir H Second Unit

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    Just curious to see if major theaters THX or otherwise use any familiar brand processor to run the surrounds sound in theaters THX, EX or dts ect..

    Also, to my surprise, I have seen BOSE speakers being used on the side channels in a theater more than once....BOSE????
     
  2. chung_sotheby

    chung_sotheby Supporting Actor

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    Usually, the processors that theaters use are not the same as the consumer models that we are most familiar with. A lot of times while the movie theater boasts DTS sound, which we know is 5.1 channels, the DTS will be pumped through abour ten speakers in the theater. Theatersall, for the most part, use film to project the movies, and on the film is either an optical or a magnetic sound strip on the side, and this sound strip is then fed into whatever processor the theater uses to derive sound. Also, SDDS is still a somewhat popular type of sound encoding, and SDDS utilizes something like 12 speakers and three subwoofers, not exactly what the average audiophile likes to have in his 25x25x10 listening area.

    Actually, some of the professional series Bose speakers are quite good, but still overpriced. I have seen many higher-end theater that use Bose as their side speakers, but at the same time these speakers probably cost 2-3x as much as comparable alternatives. But think about it, a theater can boast that it has a Bose speaker system to the uninformed masses who think that Bose is good, so every time the new Michael Bay/Simon West/Renny Harlin picture comes out, these uninformed dolts go to this theater because they think that they will experience the pinnacle in sound quality because it is Bose. These are the same people who pay an extra $3k for a Bose stereo system in their new car, even though it probably sounds the same as the stock stereo system.
     
  3. Keir H

    Keir H Second Unit

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    THanks chung for that knowledgeable explaination.

    Tell me, do you think that to get the "director intended sound", you must have speakers that are ultra high effecient and have horns since most movie theaters have these type for playback?
     
  4. chung_sotheby

    chung_sotheby Supporting Actor

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    I wouldnt say that it is a must, but horns are mostly utilized for their dispersion characterristics and their efficiency, Remember, when directors and sound engineers design the sound of a movie, they are mostly using near field monitors and small specialty theaters to experience and experiment with the sound, like some of the rooms you will see on the THX website. To best recreate the director intended sound, you just have to recreate the signal as much as possible. Horns are used in theaters because the are easier to drive, meaining less spent on amplifier power, and they disperse well, which means that the sound will be spread out as much as possible throughout the theater without compromising too much response.
     
  5. Jeff_M

    Jeff_M Stunt Coordinator

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    As a teenager, I was briefly employed at the overpriced concessions counter of a local Regal Cinemas theater. Technically it was a very nice theater compared to some of the sticky floored, blurry picture, tin can sounding local multiplexes. Sometimes I would help with the reels upstairs (which spun around on their side on massive platforms... The Green Mile reels (2!) were huge). The DTS sound was actually contained on a CD which was cued up in synch with the film.
     
  6. chung_sotheby

    chung_sotheby Supporting Actor

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    Yes, while most theaters employ CD's to carry the sound information, most film reel still contain either an optical or a magnetic sound strip on the outside portion of the film.
     
  7. Mike Bledsoe

    Mike Bledsoe Stunt Coordinator

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    Dear Keir
    Movie theaters use commercial equipment that most of us have never heard of. The sound track of d.d. and s.d.d.s are found on the movie film The soundtrack dts is found on a disc that looks like a cd That is cued to coincide with the movie.

    Mike Bledsoe
     
  8. Dan Marchewka

    Dan Marchewka Stunt Coordinator

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    I am a district manager for a small midwestern movie theatre chain. In our DTS houses, we use DTS ES in which the processor and add-on ES processor are manufactured by DTS. They run close to $8,000. We bi-amp all 8 channels using Crown amps--can't remember the number but just below the K1 amps. The sound is contained on a cd in which there is a time code on the film that cues and makes the audio in sync with the picture. Dolby Digital and SDDS soundtracks are still contained on the film itself--two silver or cyan dye lines. You must have a dobly digital or SDDS decoder to read the information. I am not sure if Sony makes a processor for SDDS, but I assume they do. Dobly makes the processor for Dolby Digital. The DTS unit is called a 6AD and the Dobly is called a CP-650. We use older dobly CP-50's in our smaller houses and just run each of the four, sometimes 5 depending if we use a sub or not, off an amp--many variety of amps but mostly Crown. All of our speakers are JBL pro series. Pretty pricy speakers, but most commercial speakers are. Usability is slightly more difficult and how good it all sounds depends on the technician that installs it. Next time you are at a movie theatre, usually if you ask the manager to see the booth, they will usually grant your wish.
     
  9. Lee-c

    Lee-c Second Unit

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    Thanks for the info., Dan. I wish more theaters would run sound a full DD reference level.
    I gather that very few do. I'd like to hear what that sounds like, at least once. [​IMG] It would
    be perfect for a movie like The Lord of the Rings. [​IMG]
     
  10. Dan Marchewka

    Dan Marchewka Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree. I know my company sets the levels at 78 dbs when they are installed and recalibrated. I would say 99% of the time when the sound is too low, it is the management or projectionist's fault. People come out and complain, so the volume gets turned down and never turned back up again.
     
  11. Jay Morrissette

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    I had the privilege of spending time on a dubbing stage where they do the final mixdowns for feature films.
    One of the days I was there they had Episode I in for a HDTV re-mix. It was the most awesome theater experience I've ever had. The sound was un-compressed 48k 16 bit audio through a Neve AMS board to Hafler amps and JBL speakers.
    When they do a mix there are several versions:
    1. 5.1 for DD and DTS
    2. 7.1 for SDDS
    3. two track for the analog back up track on the film
    This particular stage didn't do any ES films, I don't remember how they handled the Episode I sound.
    So I guess the ultimate home theater would be a huge dead room with JBL speakers and Hafler amps.
    I was amazed at how fake the sound is, but how with talented engineers they can make it seem so real! There was also a very low budget student film that they were working on. The engineer had crap to work with, but the end result was a respectable 5.1 sound track.
    I always wondered what happens to the film in a theater. The big theaters in LA all sound incredible! but the mega-plexes in the suburbs aren't anywhere near as good as my home[​IMG]
    I'm glad to see some HT enthusiests that are theater managers, that should give your theaters a big advantage.
    ~Jay
     
  12. RichardMA

    RichardMA Second Unit

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    "Dan Marchewka
    McPherson, KS USA
    Member
    I agree. I know my company sets the levels at 78 dbs when they are installed and recalibrated. I would say 99% of the time when the sound is too low, it is the management or projectionist's fault. People come out and complain, so the volume gets turned down and never turned back up again."

    I've just GOT to ask; Are any of your rooms THX certified
    and if so, is there any standard volume level THX mandates
    for movie playback?
    thanks
     
  13. Dan Marchewka

    Dan Marchewka Stunt Coordinator

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    We are not THX certified for the theatres so we cannot bear the logo, but all the DTS equipment is THX certified. If the system is calibrated correctly, it should be set to 7.0 (75 db's) on a scale of 10 (DTS and Dolby processors go from a 0 to 10.0 volume setting). THX sends out TAP (Theatre Alignment Program)packets that state where the volume should be set at to accurately reproduce the correct playback level. However, many times they do not get set or were not set up correctly or someone messed with the gain settings on the amps, as most commercial amps have the gain knob either on the front or back of the amps. So, a short answer to your question was THX does mandate a certain playback volume for the movie. Does it always get followed? No.
     
  14. tommy_t

    tommy_t Extra

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    I heard it was the Outlaw 950[​IMG]
    tommy
     
  15. chung_sotheby

    chung_sotheby Supporting Actor

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    Yeah, while THX might only go to 10, we non THX'ers go to 11. You see that, when we need the extra push, we have that extra point, all the way to 11.
     
  16. Jay Morrissette

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    But couldn't you just have a louder 10?? [​IMG]
     
  17. chung_sotheby

    chung_sotheby Supporting Actor

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    These go to 11.
     
  18. Jay Morrissette

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    [​IMG]
     

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