Receiver Sound Levels

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jason Tracewell, Jul 9, 2002.

  1. Jason Tracewell

    Jason Tracewell Stunt Coordinator

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    I have been wondering something about my receiver.. I have a Kenwood VR-507 (I've had it for about 6 months) and it's a great little receiver but when I watch my DVD's, I have to turn the volume up into the -30's (I think it goes to -03) for a decent sound. For my CD player and Dreamcast, I don't have to turn it up as high to hear at a comparable level (maybe only in the -50's or -60's)... I have my DVD player (JVC) set up through a coaxial audio imput and the CD player (Kenwood) through a optical imput & my DC as a regular RCA imput... I don't have the best or largest speakers hooked up to it, but it still sounds good with all the equipment.. I just don't understand why I have such a difference with the audio between the different components.. Is this normal? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...

    Thanks!

    -Jason
     
  2. Tony Novacek

    Tony Novacek Extra

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    Jason,
    When you are playing Dreamcast or listening to your cd player, are you listening to them in Stereo? When you watch your DVD's are you listening in Dolby Digital/Pro Logic (Surround Sound) or stereo? If you do listen/watch your DVD's in a surround format i'm pretty sure that it is naturaly quieter than stereo or a dsp mode. Atleast mine and everyone else I know, their home theater is like that.
     
  3. Jason Tracewell

    Jason Tracewell Stunt Coordinator

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    When I play my CD & Dreamcast, I listen to them in PL II mode (Music & video respectively). My DVD's, I watch in either Dolby Digital or DTS (Depending on the actual DVD obviously).. I figured the movies and stuff would be quieter, but I didn't think by that much.. Some movies are a bit higher in the output, but most of them I have to crank the volume to about 75% to hear it well.. And I'm only like 10 feet away from the speakers & TV... But if this is normal, then I won't worry about it too much.. That was my biggest concern...
    Thanks for the quick response! [​IMG]
    -Jason[​IMG]
     
  4. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Jason,
    This is actually a more complicated question than you realize- and explaining it involves a basic introduction to digital audio.
    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 below zero (-10, -20, -30 etc). Sound cannot be written to a digital audio format that exceeds this 0 maximum. So think of 0 as the speedlimit in the digital audio world.
    Now- movie soundtracks are designed to be dynamic. They want to give big loud booms and hushed whispers....
    The idea of dynamic is simply the idea 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 how loud something can be... So, in order to have room for dynamics- you can't make the loud louder- so the soft becomes softer!
    So- movies are created to have their average sound level be kinda 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 (the call this headroom).
    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 dynamic 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 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 the top 3 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 3! 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:
    [​IMG]
    If you could look at the waveform for a digital music soundtrack, it would look something like this:
    [​IMG]
    The same "squashing" process is used for TV broadcasts and VHS (although for slightly different reasons)-- you'll find they will be "louder" on your system. The case isn't really that one is louder than the others (like I said above, any digital product has the same limits- DVD and CD have the same absolute max)-- it just appears that way because some squash all the signal as close to the top as possible... while others set the average level lower to have room for dynamics.
    Hope that makes sense...
    -V
     
  5. Tony Novacek

    Tony Novacek Extra

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    Well if you listen to your music and play Dreamcast in PLII and whatch DVD's in DD & DTS, i'm pretty sure that the DVD's should play about the same. I'm not sure about your kenwood receiver but on mine each mode has there own individual settings. I'm sure you have made the proper settings and all over the last 6 months, but just make sure they are correct. In your DVD player setting do you have the option of choosing the sound format? On mine I had to check off DD & DTS in the DVD prefrences to use DD or DTS. I'm not to sure what the problem is unless it lies in the Settings of the DVD player or receiver settings. Maybe someone else can add there thoughts to this thread.
     
  6. Jason Tracewell

    Jason Tracewell Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks guys!

    Vince, that helps a lot.. I knew about the movies having a wide range, but didn't realize that the CD's and such stayed at a 'set' level, but that does make sense...

    I have played with all the settings but chances are I might have switched something one trying something else and didn't switch it back.. I do that all the time... I need to sit down and re-check all my settings, but it sounds like this is how it's supposed to be set up..

    Thanks again guys!

    -Jason
     
  7. Mike LS

    Mike LS Supporting Actor

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    Vince gave you the specifics, but as an overall answer, that's exactly how it's supposed to be.

    I have a couple of Kenwood recievers (not that this is a Kenwood thing, but they're set up the same) and that's about my normal settings.

    For DVD, my reference volume setting is -22 and my normal CD or other analog listening level is in the -40's.
     
  8. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Yes, good point- I did leave out a summary.

    I guess my post above should have said:

    "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."

    -V
     
  9. Jason Tracewell

    Jason Tracewell Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Mike!
    Cool, Like I said, I was mostly affraid that I had the volume up to high (especially compared to other components), but since others have it the same way, then I'm glad to see this is normal... I'm still relatively new to the whole HT thing and am learning as I go along..
    Again, thanks for all the help! [​IMG]
    -Jason
     

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