Pioneer's Midnight Mode...Do other manufacturers have something similar?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeff_Fitz, Oct 3, 2002.

  1. Jeff_Fitz

    Jeff_Fitz Stunt Coordinator

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    Pioneer offers Midnight Mode to enhance performance in low volume situations. They describe the feature as follows...

    "Midnight Mode addresses these low listening volume problems by making several adjustments to the signal to enhance the realism in the "Ambiance Channels" without affecting the overall Sound Pressure Level."

    In addition, many on this forum have indicated that an added bonus of Midnight Mode on the VSX-811S in particular is that it greatly improves the receiver's lackluster music performance.

    I am wondering what other manufacturers, if any, offer a similar feature on their receivers.

    Thanks in advance for your help,


    Jeff
     
  2. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    most offer some thing along that does the same thing and is usually called a compression mode or mignight mode.
     
  3. DanielSmi

    DanielSmi Second Unit

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    Actually most should have this feature. I think it's also part of the Dolby Digital encoding, some sort of flag that does the same thing I think, I'm not sure.

    Daniel Smith
     
  4. RobertSchaez

    RobertSchaez Stunt Coordinator

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    Most receiver/processors have this feature, called one thing or another. I think the technical term is Dynamic Range Compression. It makes the quiet passages and the loud passages closer in volume. It can also be a feature on a DVD player if you are using the player's processor.
     
  5. JJR512

    JJR512 Supporting Actor

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    Yes, that is the correct technical term. "Dynamic range" is the range in volume between the quietest and loudest parts. Many movies have a very wide dynamic range and this can make them difficult to listen to when a low volume level is required, for example, after your SO has already gone to bed. [​IMG] The problem is if you turn the volume down low enough so the loud stuff is quiet, the quiet stuff (like most dialog) is impossible to hear. But if you turn it up so you can hear the quiet stuff, the loud stuff is, well, loud, and might wake up your SO. [​IMG]
     
  6. PaulDF

    PaulDF Second Unit

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    My Pioneer has a DRC setting as well as Midnite Mode... Leads me to believe they are not the same thing.... Just a thought.
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I think "midnight" and DRC are not the same thing. I would guess, from the sound of it, that midnight is more like a "loudness" control that accentuates high and low frequencies or a certain frequency range(s).

    DRC reduces peaks, making the overall sound more even, but looses some dynamics, IMO. I had "Night" mode on one time, which is similar to DRC, and I couldn't figure out why it wasn't loud the next time, until I realized this and turned it off.
     
  8. PaulDF

    PaulDF Second Unit

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    I think John is right on the money. And Jeff's original explanation was basically the same. I find that midnight mode helps my system in 6 channel stereo, and prologic, but definitely not for 2 channel stereo!
     
  9. Jeff_Fitz

    Jeff_Fitz Stunt Coordinator

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    Check out Pioneer's full description of Midnight Mode HERE.
    Hope it helps clarify things,
    Jeff
     
  10. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Jeff, thanks for that link. Now I know why Midnight and Loudness sound identical to me when applied to 2 channel stereo music listening - because Midnight is simply doing the same thing as Loudness in that situation. It does seem to improve music at low/reasonable listening volumes where the low end and high end frequencies seem to roll off. I have not used Midnight for any DPLII or DD/DTS material. I tried it with DPLII but found it didn't really offer any great improvement for me.

    cheers,


    --tom
     
  11. Patrick TX

    Patrick TX Stunt Coordinator

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    Some MFG's call it "night theater" as well. Seems to me my old HK had it, as well as my current Yamaha. Keeps the rumble from waking up the Baby! How's that for a Wife closer!
     
  12. Leon Liew

    Leon Liew Stunt Coordinator

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    The Onkyos also have this feature under LATE NIGHT MODE on their models too.

    But do you guys realise that it is only applicable to
    Dolby Digital encoded software and not DTS. The ops
    manual on my Onkyo says so. Perhaps you guys would like
    try it on your sets to be sure
     
  13. Jeff_Hunt

    Jeff_Hunt Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok, I have to go into insane rant mode here, but I'm going to qualify it first by saying I understand why and when some people might want to use a tool like midnight mode when the wife and kids are asleep.

    In my opinion things like midnight mode, night mode, or any other "feature" that is basically Dynamic Range Compression is the tool of the devil.

    I mean seriously, we go on and on about the director's intent and getting our settings calibrated to offer the truest experience and then you want to go turn on dynamic range compression?!? Are you insane? To me, turning on these features is the akin to watching the movie in Pan & Scan instead of Widescreen.

    Music? Could you imagine listening to, say, Beethoven's 9th symphony with midnight mode turned on? All the soft, quiet interludes are brought up a little, and then when the composition takes a turn and abruptly becomes dominating and loud, we'll just soften that so it's not so bad.

    You people are all smoking crack. And another thing, after listening to the Pioneer 811s in stores, I've come up with a theory as to why it "sounds better" with midnight mode turned on, because that way it doesn't tax the horribly crappy amps in it.

    Okay, sorry, this little rant has been brewing for awhile.

    -Jeff Hunt
     
  14. Seth_L

    Seth_L Screenwriter

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    Well Jeff if you want to watch a movie at night and your baby, or your neighbors (apartment) won't appreciated it Night Mode is really handy.

    Sony recievers have a "night mode" which turns on the Dynamic Range Compression to Max. This is also seperately adjustable in the reciever. From off to .1 to Max (1.0).

    Seth
     
  15. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Jeff, Pioneer's Midnight mode, as stated at that URL, does NOT do dynamic range compression if the signal is NOT Dolby Digital. So, your classical music remains unharmed in that sense. What it does is simply boost the low and high end which tend to be flat/thin. The Pioneer models do tend to sound thin with 2 channel music but one can't expect "the world" at the
     
  16. Leon Liew

    Leon Liew Stunt Coordinator

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    Hear! Hear! Agree with Thomast. The feature provided is
    just an option unless we are not being considerate to our
    family members and neighbours.
     
  17. Jeff_Fitz

    Jeff_Fitz Stunt Coordinator

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    Jeff Hunt:

    Take a deep breath and count to ten. That WAS quite a rant.

    The reason I started this thread is because I know this is a feature I would use. I do not have a separate, sound-proofed home theater room.

    I understand your concerns about the purity of the experience, but I think my enjoyment of a movie would be harmed much more by having to pause it several times while I try to put my kids back to sleep. I could alternately watch with my finger on the volume button and constantly adjust it, but there goes the purity thing again.



    Thomas:

    Pioneer says they use DRC "for Dolby Digital soundtracks" and then go on to say...

    "Other late night viewing modes work with Dolby Digital soundtracks, but not with DTS and Dolby Pro Logic. Pioneer's Midnight Mode works with all surround sound formats."

    A bit confusing.



    Everyone:

    I discovered this weekend that Denon has DRC on their receiver line. Someone commented above that Onkyo has "Late Night Mode". Do Yamaha, Marantz, and Harman Kardon offer something similar?


    Jeff
     
  18. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Jeff_Fitz,

    You can use Midnight mode with any of those sources - but if its two channel stereo listening (L/R + sub), it will simply apply the Loudness curve to those channels - at least this is what I've concluded. In switching between Loudness and Midnight mode just with 2 channel music, I hear no difference whatsoever. There is a definite difference when switching modes and playing a DPLII or 5.1 source. I don't use either of those modes with DPLII/DD sources but can understand why one might use the DRC functionality in order to tone down the loud parts and bump up the quiet parts during a late night movie.

    The Pioneer also has a separate DRC setting for DD soundtracks only. I am not sure how this interacts with the Midnight mode but it may be that only for DD sources, do you truly get dynamic range compression. If you could design a test, it would be interesting to see if it is doing DRC, say with a DTS source.

    cheers,


    --tom
     
  19. Rich H

    Rich H Second Unit

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    To repeat what others have explained: The Pioneer 49TX has DRC for Dolby Digital sources. Most receivers offer dynamic range control only with DD material. The dynamic range compression reduces the actual loudness between peak and low sound levels - evening out the dynamic range of the sound. (BTW, compression achieves this not so much by reducing peak sound levels, but by *raising* the level of quiet sounds between the peaks).

    In contrast, Pioneer's Midnight Mode works in the frequency domain - it's an EQ curve, much like the "loudness" function on many receivers. As many here likely know, loudness buttons typically attempt to correct for the fact our hearing becomes less and less linear as volume drops (Fletcher-Munson curve). Our perception of bass drops off especially quickly, so the Midnight Mode boosts the bass (more like mid-bass) and perhaps raises some upper frequencies to retain clarity at low volumes.

    I really like this feature because, unlike many other receivers, I can apply Midnight Mode to most non-DD sources as well.

    Rich.
     
  20. Rich H

    Rich H Second Unit

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    Jeff Hunt:

    Speaking as a guy who does film sound design for a living:

    If someone needs to flick on the dynamic range control in order to relax and enjoy the film, so be it. Not to get all philisophical-like, but I don't view art as a one way street or totalitarian experience. The viewer will always approach the art on his own terms (e.g. the filmmaker would love everyone to sit in the center sixth row - but many people like sitting toward the back of the theater, significantly altering the viewing experience).

    In regards to movie soundtracks, I understand your fanatical thoughts on reproducing "what the director intended." However, unless you've "pinked" (pink noised) your room, you probably aren't hearing the sound exactly as the mixers/director heard it. Most people are listening in an environment that alters the tonal balance/dynamics of the original mix.

    In fact, despite acoustician's best efforts, the sound varies in dynamics and tonal qualities from mixing theater to mixing theater - so there is no perfect standard there either. Same goes for movie theaters. And of course, you get different sound from any single movie theater depending on where you sit.

    So "as the director intended it" is nice in theory, but depending on your level of fanatacism, it's impossible in practice.

    Using the dynamic range control, loud sounds will still register as Loud, quiet sounds as quiet. It doesn't change the overall sonic picture that much.

    I myself use the Pioneer's Midnight Mode quite a bit. After a day of work on a soundtrack, my ears have often heard enough loud explosions. The Midnight Mode adds a richness to the soundtracks that makes them less fatiguing, and which allows me to relax and enjoy a DVD movies that I might otherwise have to pass on some nights. I wouldn't trade that feature for the world.

    In sum: People's rooms sound different. People hear differently. Flexibility is good.

    Rich.
     

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