Question about demo-ing a surround sound system

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Brian Elwood, Sep 10, 2004.

  1. Brian Elwood

    Brian Elwood Stunt Coordinator

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    I've read the thread of what people use to demo their systems - however - I feel most of the answers were for "showing off" the audio, not attempting to see what system is better then the next.

    Any system will sound great with explosions and deph charges if loud enough.

    With that said - what do people look for when testing 5.1 systems for th 1st time. I'm using mine for 50/50 music/movies.

    I can understand the music part but what the heck will show the subtlieties of the surrounds, what sound clips are best????

    Thanks guys
     
  2. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    There are a couple ways to do a proper surround demo:

    *Non-localized effects. I personally like the underground 'golf' game from The Mummy. In this particular case, you want a surround speaker where you can't easily locate the source of the noise.

    *enveloping blanket noise. Such most anything inside Dracula's castle in the 1992 Dracula, or the storm from Matrix revolutions. again you want a good all-round sound, but nothing that makes you say "hey, theres the speaker right there". transparancy is the key.

    *dialog. Ok, surround mixed dialog is rare. Reign in Darkness is the only DVD I've rented that comes to mind. Voices should sound as natural as from the L-C-R speakers.
     
  3. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Darkness Falls Not a great movie, but spectacular use of surrounds. I bought it just for that reason. Some of the effects are pretty unnerving [​IMG]

    If you want to hear subtleties in surrounds, multichannel music is still the best. Something like DSOTM on SACD. The track 7 Bridges Road on Eagles:HFO DTS has the voice of one singer in each speaker - very cool.

    There are more than a few movies with dialogue in the surrounds....I just can't remember them (can picture the actors, not the movies). I'll check around to see if I can figure out which. One was with Holly Hunter, and you can hear the "voice in the back of her head" in the surrounds, a different one in each.

    Contact Opening scene where the radio transmission passes over you as you progress through space/time. Nicely done.

    Fantasia 2000 Opening scene where various music passages and a voice over from the original is moving around the room.
     
  4. GregBe

    GregBe Second Unit

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    A vast majority of the use of my system is for movies, but I still used music to evaluate my system. I highly recommend music. Brian, I believe from your earlier posts, that you will be demoing sub/sat systems. I have a Cambridge Soundworks sub/sat system that does music and movies really well, but many do not. If you like Jazz, try using music with an accoustic bass. I use Diana Krall. The standup bass centers right around the crossover frequency, and will seperate the men from the boys as far as sub/sat systems go.
    Have fun testing

    Greg
     
  5. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Casper DTS. Don't know about the Dolby Digital. Enveloping, detailed atmospherics.

    Even if it's just the first few minutes leading up to the kids running in terror.

    Leo Kerr
     
  6. Mike Likens

    Mike Likens Stunt Coordinator

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    I also use music to test speakers. For me if they do well with music they will do well with movies. I am finicky about high frequencies. If a speaker is bright or "sizzles" then it is not for me. I test using two female vocalist that test the tweeter and crossover transitions. They are Sarah McClaclin and Alison Kraus. If there voices are grating in any way, then that speaker is not for me.

    Maybe treble is not your main concern. Determine what you require in a speaker and find one that meets your need.
     
  7. AlanZ

    AlanZ Screenwriter

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    John, I can't believe that someone else is actually mentioning Darkness Falls as a demo....I remember watching that movie in awe of the degree to which I was affected by the surrounds. As you said, not a great film, but what a great 5.1 mix. I don't remember the last time when the audio carried a movie this much....it takes a lot to freak me out, but this flick did a damn good job. It reminded me of how much more realistic the rats seemed in "Willard" when the surrounds were used effectively.
     

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