DaveF

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How does it score 5/5 top marks on audio when Sony isn’t delivering their best audio mix, the Dolby Atmos mix?

I appreciated the spoilers being marked; I could skip those to check the general review comments and I can come back later to read the spoilers when I’ve watched the movie. :)
 
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Josh Steinberg

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How does it score 5/5 top marks on audio when Sony isn’t delivering their best audio mix, the Dolby Atmos mix?
I suppose that's the age-old conflict for a reviewer - do you review what's on the disc measured against what the makers of that disc intended the disc to be, or do you measure against the nearly limitless options they could have chosen but didn't? I'd probably be inclined to review what was actually present on its own merits, while noting outside of the score that other mixes were available but not included.
 
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Robert Crawford

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How does it score 5/5 top marks on audio when Sony isn’t delivering their best audio mix, the Dolby Atmos mix?

I appreciated the spoilers being marked; I could skip those to check the general review comments I can come back later to read the spoilers review comments later when I’ve watched the movie. :)
Perhaps, it sounded like a 5/5 score on his HT system if it's not Dolby Atmos capable and the 5.1 lossless track sounded great on his HT system.
 
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Malcolm R

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I suppose that's the age-old conflict for a reviewer - do you review what's on the disc measured against what the makers of that disc intended the disc to be, or do you measure against the nearly limitless options they could have chosen but didn't? I'd probably be inclined to review what was actually present on its own merits, while noting outside of the score that other mixes were available but not included.
I would agree. I think reviewers need to review the actual contents of the disc for what they are, not what they could be. You can comment that the studio could have included a different format, but that shouldn't color your assessment of what's actually available on the disc.
 

Robert Crawford

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I would agree. I think reviewers need to review the actual contents of the disc for what they are, not what they could be. You can comment that the studio could have included a different format, but that shouldn't color your assessment of what's actually available on the disc.
I totally agree with you and Josh on this matter.
 
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DaveF

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So if you get a high-quality stereo 2.0 mix of a surround sound program*, that gets top score for being great stereo, and not called out for being inferior to what it should be? I think it’s reasonable to hold studios accountable for skimping and informative to readers to note that the mix is inferior and the full mix is only available on a different, more costly format.

I’m not trying to give Kevin a hard time. My real issue is with studios cheating blu-ray buyers of features that should be tablestakes on a Blu-ray to try and drive UHD adoption.

* I’m looking at you, CBS All Access.
 

Robert Crawford

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So if you get a high-quality stereo 2.0 mix of a surround sound program*, that gets top score for being great stereo, and not called out for being inferior to what it should be? I think it’s reasonable to hold studios accountable for skimping and informative to readers to note that the mix is inferior and the full mix is only available on a different, more costly format.

I’m not trying to give Kevin a hard time. My real issue is with studios cheating blu-ray buyers of features that should be tablestakes on a Blu-ray to try and drive UHD adoption.

* I’m looking at you, CBS All Access.
I think your example is extreme as we're comparing a lossless audio track to Dolby Atmos.
 

Josh Steinberg

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So if you get a high-quality stereo 2.0 mix of a surround sound program*, that gets top score for being great stereo, and not called out for being inferior to what it should be? I think it’s reasonable to hold studios accountable for skimping and informative to readers to note that the mix is inferior and the full mix is only available on a different, more costly format.
I get that - but at the same time, where do you draw the line? The argument could be made that for a 3D movie, the 2D disc should just get a failing grade on the principal that 50% of the movie is missing (only seeing one of the two eye views). Heck, I used to try taking that stand around here, and it didn't make me any friends!

The most common retort to the 2D presentation of 3D material and my question above was that the films were also released in 2D, so the 2D presentation was equally valid. If that logic is acceptable to most here, then I'll carry that reasoning to surround formats - the film was offered to theaters with multiple configurations, and 5.1 was one of those configurations. It's not the most deluxe of the different audio options created for the film, but it's still a valid mix in my view. Compared to the total number of movie screens available domestically, the percentage of those screens that offer Atmos is ridiculously small. All Dolby Cinema locations have it, and there are about a couple hundred of those. Some, but by no means all, of the so-called "premium large format" auditoriums (Regal's RPX, Cinemark's XD, AMC's ETX and Prime, etc.) have it. IMAX doesn't use Atmos since it's a competing technology. The overwhelming majority of audiences that bought a ticket to see Spider-Man Homecoming did not see it theatrically in Atmos. Meanwhile, with something like 40 or 50 percent of ticket sales going for 3D versions. far more people saw it in 3D than heard it in Atmos.

I really don't know how I would quantify this as a reviewer, because on one hand, if the included 5.1 track is kickass and does everything that a 5.1 track should do, that track deserves a high score. On the other hand, if a more advanced audio option did exist and was left off the disc intentionally, there has to be a way of penalizing the overall disc score for that while still reflecting that the 5.1 track was as good as a 5.1 track could possibly be.

Unfortunately, especially with the 3D versions, it's not a scenario like buying a new car, where if one brand doesn't include all of the bells and whistles you want, you can just move on to another brand. If you want Spider-Man Homecoming in 3D, this is the audio you get. I think for the people who value 3D above other attributes, that will override any other factors like less advanced audio. And if you're someone who cares about Atmos above all else, you'll likely already be on your way to upgrading to UHD anyhow. Atmos isn't a priority for me, or even a possibility in my current space, so I can't throw the baby out with the bathwater if a perfectly good 3D disc doesn't include an optional audio format that only a small minority experienced the movie with in the first place.

I'd argue that the difference between this and CBS All Access is that Sony is still providing a type of lossless surround sound on this disc, while CBS is taking a surround program and presenting it only in lossy stereo.
 

John Sparks

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You know, I have purchased the last 5 and I think to myself, what does this one have to offer that the other 5 didn't and I have to tell you...NOTHING!!!

I'm sure CG can make him do a couple of moves that weren't shown in the other five.

I'll stick with my other 5 and F**k this release! Even though I'm into 3D...sometimes you just have to say...enough is enough!

:3dglasses::thumbsdown:
 

Kevin EK

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I honestly didn't think my rating would need to take into account the Atmos of it all.
I just evaluated the DTS-HD MA 5.1 and found it to be an extremely strong mix. Any mix that can give you all of the Vulture's lines and all the surround effects and plenty of big bangs is one with which to be reckoned.

I realize the 4K release has the Atmos mix, which has been getting rave reviews.
All I can think is that there may have been a disc capacity issue.
Certainly that would have been the case on the 3D disc. The 2D disc has a fair amount of material, including the separate file with the Pop-Up trivia track. To me, it's not a problem - I have a solid 7.1 system, not Atmos, so even if I was given that mix, I could not hear the full measure of it.
 

dpippel

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It's hard to review a soundtrack that you can't play with your equipment. ;)

On another note, I watched the 4K UHD disc yesterday and it is GORGEOUS. Reference all the way. Never saw the film during its theatrical run and pretty much enjoyed it thoroughly.
 

Josh Steinberg

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All I can think is that there may have been a disc capacity issue.
I don't think that's it. It's become common practice for certain studios to withhold Atmos and other more advanced tracks from BD, in what appears to be an effort to push physical media buyers into UHD.

For instance, Warner used to support Atmos and 7.1 on BD3D. Pacific Rim, a film that shares the same running time as Spider-Man Homecoming, includes both 3D and Atmos. Warner experimented with dropping Atmos and holding it for double dips when they debuted their "Diamond Luxe" line, but that line was dropped after only a handful of releases. But since either late last year or early this year, it's become Warner's policy not to include Atmos on BD3D releases. The recent release of Wonder Woman, for instance, includes Atmos on the 2D disc, but only 5.1 (not even 7.1) on the 3D disc. Since other movies of that length have included Atmos and 3D, and happens on films that are shorter than Wonder Woman too, this seems to be completely intentional.

Sony initially supported Atmos on their BD releases (and may still offer it on some catalog titles), but dropped it from regular BDs around the time that UHD launched. The BD versions are now limited to 5.1 or 7.1, while the UHD retains the Atmos.

Paramount and Universal are currently including Atmos tracks, when available, on both 2D and 3D BD, as well as UHD. Fox is also limiting Atmos to UHD. Disney only recently began supporting Atmos, and they support it exclusively on UHD. With the exception of Disney, I believe all of these labels used to support Atmos on BD.
 

Kevin EK

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Josh, you could well be right on that. I honestly don't know, but it's certainly plausible.

I'm frankly quite satisfied with the home theater I currently have - the one I've had for the past 6 years.
A 65" 3D plasma and a Denon Receiver feeding out to 7.1.
Going 4K isn't something I'm contemplating at this time.
Maybe in another 5 years or so.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I feel the same way. My 5.1 system works for the room I have. Eventually, in a future home, I can imagine going to 7.1 and maybe Atmos, but at the moment, the lack of an Atmos track makes no practical difference to me. I understand the frustration of people who upgraded for Atmos a couple years ago and would now have to get a new disc player and receiver to get Atmos from UHD discs, but it's not a problem that's hitting home for me yet.
 

DaveF

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Thanks for the discussion. This isn’t the hill I want to die on :) and I’ve distracted from the Kevin's detailed review too much.

Were I able to go UHD this would be moot. But I can’t. So I’m annoyed by this willful antagonism towards customers by Sony and other studios.
 
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Neil S. Bulk

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Part of this could be a compatibility issue. My Blu-ray player doesn't like the Atmos bitstream so I had to set it to PCM output instead of bitstream. Not a big deal, and I'm savvy enough to know to do this, but is everyone? So they could deal with customers having audio issues or stick with an audio format that is proven to work.

Neil
 

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