Frequency waterfall charts of a few familiar favourites

Gordon Groff

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What guys think about the first LOTR DD release? I thought it was a great sounding movie. But it is on the loud side, there is no way i would attemp near RL with this one.
I thought the DTS track was too hot and bass-heavy. I think I prefer the DD for this one, but like the surround seperation better on the DTS. Sigh. I usually go DTS when I can, but I'm always in a quandry which to select whenever we pop that one in. Guess you can't have everything


Gordon
 

Ilkka R

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I mean what would happen if you were watching SW-PM at/near MV 0.0. Then you popped in SW-AOTC at the same MV setting and the THX Cavalcade trailer comes on....and kaboom.....there goes your subwoofer, your ears, and your heart in your throat.
One thing I noticed. Both Cavalcade trailers are mastered at same level. I also noticed that even when the movie starts, both are actually mastered quite near RL. I measured the SPL level (dialog) with my RS meter and with SW-PM I got around 80dB dialog at RL. With SW-AOTC I got 80dB dialog at -2RL. Could there be a difference between R1 and R2 versions? Because it seems that R2 SW-AOTC is definitely not 10dB hot. Not even 6dB.
 

Ilkka R

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This is getting more strange. It seems that SW-AOTC first fly-by scene (until the explosion) is way hotter than any other bass-heavy scene in the whole movie. I did't see much pink anywhere else (speeder chase has few pink spots). I plotted the "pod rad" scene from the SW-PM and compared that to SW-AOTC last battle scene and they were actually quite close, as I noticed before when I measured the dialog levels. SW-AOTC may be 2-3dB hotter, but that's it. But the first fly-by is much hotter, I'd say 6-8dB based on my charts.

Also as I already mentioned, both Cavalcade trailers are identical (mastering level).
 

Ilkka R

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I'm getting to have the feeling that dialog is the thing we need to calibrate. Not deep bass. If dialog is around 78-80dB, you are playing at RL. Monitoring bass peaks (112-113dB, C-weighted) is not accurate enough. Ed, have you ever measured dialog levels or only bass?
 

Eric Eash

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any of you guys able to test The Grudge yet?
 

MikeDuke

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Ilkka R
If dialog is around 78-80dB, you are playing at RL
Thats what I have been doing lately. I feel that I have everything calibrated the correct way so when I watch a movie I just set the volume so that my dialog is between 75-80dB. This gives me a comfortable experience, but still allows my system to hit pretty hard if needed.
 

Edward J M

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But the first fly-by is much hotter, I'd say 6-8dB based on my charts.
I agree than calibrating to dialogue is a good idea, and that's what I subconsciously do when setting the master volume for each DVD. If dialogue falls into the 75-80 dB region, it seems natural and easy to hear clearly.

Even if the dialogue levels are similar between the two DVDs, SWI already had a reputation for being a very strong/bassy DVD. A bass peak 6-8 dB hotter in SWII than SWI could cause serious system overload if you were already pushing near the subwoofer's clean/dynamic output limits when watching SWI.

You would need more than double your existing subwoofer capacity to cleanly handle the opener of SWII. Relative dialogue levels not withstanding, that to me is the real problem.

It could make for a very rude surprise if the enthusiast takes out SWI and pops in SWII and hits play without adjusting the master volume setting and the first fly by/explosion wrecks his subwoofer. Makes a great case for having a boatload of subwoofer headroom in your system, though.
 

Lewis Besze

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I'm getting to have the feeling that dialog is the thing we need to calibrate. Not deep bass. If dialog is around 78-80dB, you are playing at RL. Monitoring bass peaks (112-113dB, C-weighted) is not accurate enough. Ed, have you ever measured dialog levels or only bass?
Yes that's what the test tones try to emulate. THX and Dolby recommends the -30dbfs test tones which would read 75db at refference levels once it's calibrated.Avia uses -20dbfs so it would read 85db but it essentially the same thing as the signal is less attuanated.The average dialog level is around 75-80db but there are issues like dialnorm which only affects overal level and there is dynamic compression that usually raises the dialog level[usually the softest part of the track] compared to the effects and music tracks[ which usually the loudest ones]. The original FOTR theatrical cut was a good[bad]example of the later problem.My point is calibrating based on a given movie's dialog level might prove to be a hit or miss.
 

John Garcia

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any of you guys able to test The Grudge yet?
I'm curious about that too, I'll have to get some timestamps - lots of low rumble at the beginning of the movie.
 

Ned

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Here's something a little different.




This is Sarah McLachlan - Solace 06 back door man.
 

Mark Seaton

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Hi Guys,

Unfortunately I had missed the earlier discussion on relative levels. While I understand some of the complaints about some movies being rediculously demanding, I would also say that unless you can get some confirmation that in the editing process they artificially raised the level (which happens commonly on audio CDs) I would only critique the sound engineer for being a bit over-zealous with the effects... Not that they "didn't record at reference level."

System calibration establishes nothing more than a known gain structure between the recorded level and the level presented to the listener. If the mastering engineer is going deaf, it will be a bit louder, and if you're stuck watching some chick-flick, I would expect the levels to be much lower. That's just the way it is. You are welcome to adjust the volume as is appropriate to your listening environment and your system's capability. I know I have often watched that opening scene from SW-AOTC after calibrating big systems... at reference level. Having heard that reproduced without strain from either the subwoofer and main speakers, I can't imagine this was not intentional. The fact that the loudest scene was at the beginning of the movie tells me they were trying to really make a point as well as viscerally grab your attention.

This is further confirmed in hearing that during calmer scenes, the dialog is very similar in level to the Episode 1. Now I'm not saying that everyone has to listen at these levels, but that IS reference level. This is just a matter of "I prefer to listen to this soundtrack at -#dB." Another good example is with DD vs. DTS tracks. Listen to Master & Commander in each mode, and it is clear the DTS track has more low frequency energy, and the shouted dialog is a little bit louder. So the question is, would this be "wrong" if the DD track was recorded this way in the first place?

Reference level is simply a known reference. It does not guarantee a specific level. It does tell us what the maximum recorded level can produce (in SPL) from any one channel; much how movies have different "hues" and "looks" to the picture (think Matrix vs. Fifth Element vs. Fight Club, etc.). We establish references so we can all relate to some common reference, from which we are certainly allowed to adjust to taste as needed.

My 2 cents,
 

dave/r

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TO POSTERS OF WATERFALL CHARTS:

Would u mind doing me a favour by plotting charts of some un-bassy pre-dts films? I'm doing a thesis on how cinema sound has evolved, and it'd be useful to compare these with the amazing bass-laden soudtracks of today.

Any film you like, perhaps a classical hollywood one and some action film from 20/30 years ago would be cool.

This would really help me out.

thanks peeps!
 

Mark Seaton

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A good one might be something like comparing modern soundtracks with say Twister or Jurassic Park and maybe some other older ones. One problem you may encounter is that some DVD releases have been re-mastered to bring them more in line with current expectations.
 

KeithY

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Blazing Saddles, 1997 pressing

Mongo comes to town


Horse hits ground after Mongo punches him


Mongo's candy gram explosion
 

dave/r

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Thanks Kieth, that's just the sort of thing I'm looking for! If anyone else has similar contributions, especially older films, they would be much appreciated.
 

KeithY

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Wages of Fear-blowing up obstacle in road


Sorcerer-blowing up obstacle in road


Sorcerer-bus leaving and explosion in Jerusalem
 

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