MovieSound Equalization

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by SammyT, Jul 22, 2005.

  1. SammyT

    SammyT Auditioning

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    I am having problems balancing movie sound levels from my vcr and dvd player.

    I am currently running all of my home audio through a jvc mini-system stereo with analog cables. I use the VCR as a receiver to control the input to the stereo. This includes digital satellite, vcr, gamecube, and dvd.

    I am having problems with the sound from the dvd and vcr. The levels seem to be uneven. The talking is really quiet while the music is just booming. I tried all of the equalization settings on my system and the FLAT one seems to work the best. However, there is still problems with the levels.

    I'm wondering if this has anything to do with the audio from the dvd and vhs movies since the other sources work fine.

    Can anyone help?

    Would a volume regulator do the trick?
     
  2. Charlie Campisi

    Charlie Campisi Screenwriter

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    The problem lies in either the vcr passing the signals it gets from other sources differently than the ones it generates, or more likely, in the mini system which is not designed for home theater. Instead of spending money trying to make the mini system work, you'd be better served saving to build a real HT system. It doesn't have to be expensive. The $600 onkyo systems are real good, or even the $500 rocket tyke/kenwood package. You'd probably even improve with a $300 system.

    I'm an advocate of spending the most money on speakers, but your key right now is getting a 5,6 or 7.1 receiver that is designed to process signals from multiple sources the way they were recorded. Your system is struggling because you are asking it to do something it was not meant to do.
     
  3. SammyT

    SammyT Auditioning

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    I read in the FAQ section that this might have to do with the dynamic (High and Low) sound put into movie soundtracks.

    I wouldn't mind the differances if they weren't so drastic. I can't seem to watch a movie comfortably without changing the volume up and down.

    Has anyone found a solution to this problem?

    Thnx.
     
  4. SammyT

    SammyT Auditioning

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    The following is from Vince Maskeeper (Administrator) FAQ Page

    When I put in a CD, it's SO MUCH LOUDER than a DVD- Why does this happen? Am I doing something wrong?

    Explaining this actually means a basic trip into the technical world of digital audio. Are you ready? Here we go...

    Digital audio has a hard maximum ceiling for audio. This level is known as "0". All sound in the digital realm is then measured in a scale using ZERO as maximum and working downward (-10, -20, -30 etc). Sound cannot be written to a digital audio format that exceeds this 0 maximum. So think of 0 as the absolute speed limit in the digital audio world.


    Now- movie soundtracks are designed to be dynamic. They want to give you all those big loud booms and hushed whispers....

    The idea of "dynamic" is simply that there is a big difference between the loudest sound and the quietest sound. But, like we said before- no matter what we're encoding- digital has a very hard limit of the maximum level something can be... So, in order to have room for dynamics- you can't make the loud louder- so what do you do? Well, you have to make everything else softer!

    So- movies are created to have their average overall sound level be low. If the average level is kinda low then this gives them plenty of room to get loud before they hit that digital maximum level (they call this headroom-- its the amount of room you have to go up before you hit your head on the ceiling- cute huh?).

    Movies are designed to have their average dialog level be about 25 or 30 steps below the maximum level available. That way, when they want to have some big dynamic special effect- they have room to go louder... So between the dialog (average level) and the loudest sound (max level) they have 30 steps of dynamics to use.

    Video games and CDs are often designed in a different way. Instead of being dynamic- they are squashed. Almost the entire signal is squashed down into a tight package- and the whole thing is just "loud" all the time. The average CD uses just the top 3-6 steps of available volume all the time. In other words- where movies have the ability of having 30 steps of dynamics to use-- CDs only use about 1/10th that much! They push the entire signal all the way up to those top 3 levels below the max- and thus it seems significantly louder than a DVD.

    If you could look at the waveform for a digital movie soundtrack, it would look something like this:

    Notice the average level is much lower- but has an occasional dynamic peak that hits the max level.

    If you could look at the waveform for a digital music soundtrack, it would look something like this:

    The same audio "squashing" process is used for TV broadcasts, Radio Broadcasts and VHS (although for slightly different reasons)-- you'll find they will also be "louder" on your system. The case isn't really that one is louder than the others (like I said above, they all have relatively the same maximum level)-- it just appears "louder" because all the signal is squished as close to the top as possible... while others set the average level lower to have room for dynamics.

    In closing, there is nothing wrong with your receiver or equipment. The difference in volume is normal and exactly how it should be given the nature of the different audio types.
     

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