DVD vs. Cinema sound

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by John Firstley, Jul 19, 2004.

  1. John Firstley

    John Firstley Auditioning

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    There's this thing that I've noticed in dvds. The theatrical
    trailers in the dvds have much better audio quality
    than the movie itself. A pretty good example is the star trek: first contact dvd that I have. My home theater setup is not the best but this trailer sounds so well
    that when playing it I have a feeling I've bought a new pair of speakers and two subwoofers! But the same scenes
    in the movie itself dont even make me notice them. What is the reason for this? Is the space on a dvd disc insufficient for the theatrical version of the soundtrack?
    Or is this done for a reason, so that whatever speakers we get the sound wont be as good as in the theater?
    Have you noticed this? What are your thoughts?
     
  2. brentl

    brentl Cinematographer

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    I think a pretty good answer is that they tend to boost everything in a trailer to make you pay attention.

    It's been proven that a louder speaker will always sound better even if they are the same speakers.

    B
     
  3. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    What Brent said.

    I've had the opposite experience: I think my HT sound setup beats a lot of the smaller multiplexes I've been to. Not because I spend more $ than they do, but because of the fact that I have less room to fill up, and I do have upper mid-fi equipment.

    I've noticed one thing: DVDs audio tracks are mastered well (in general) and preserve the proper dynamic range. As such, the amp/receiver will need to be turned up to achieve the same volumes as, say, a mass-market CD (which are overcompressed to hell).

    I use digital outs on both my CD and DVD audio, and I have to play CDs at -30db and DVDs at -17db. But man, when the DVD calls for big boom action, it pushed my NAD T763 into a whole new level. Equipment (more specifically [u[power[/u]) really makes a difference in HT sound. When a DVD's audio track peaks, it really stresses the power section. On my old Sony 555ES, there was a kind of "ceiling" beyond which the ES would not climb. When I upgraded to an NAD, that ceiling has been significantly heightened. Perhaps your disappointment in DVD audio tracks is related to your amp section not being able to reproduce the upper end of the dynamic range?
     
  4. John Firstley

    John Firstley Auditioning

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    Yes, I know about the louder speaker thing, but its not that. I tried a lot of tinkering with the sound and subwoofer
    volume but whatever I do it even cant get close to the
    trailer sound quality..
     
  5. Matt Hilton

    Matt Hilton Extra

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    I'll bet the difference you're hearing is the compression that is inherent with surround formats...

    The audio format of the trailer is probably different from that of the feature. The trailer is probably Dolby Digital 2.1, where the movie is probably 5.1. I could be wrong, but I think that means less compression for the trailer's soundtrack.

    One test could be to have your receiver give you the PCM soundtrack while playing the actual movie. See if your movie now sounds more robust. Of course, it's only stereo, but it will be louder and have no compression.

    I think I noticed the same thing while watching trailers on a borrowed Anger Management DVD. I think my system sounds great for all formats, but the trailers on that disk seemed to stand out (the narrator's booming voice, especially).

    Good luck.
     
  6. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    It is likely the same reason that commercials on TV get so much louder than the show (everything is recorded at MAX levels, with little dynamic range). Trailers are, after all, commercials.
     

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