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Why is the volume always lower with HD DVD's? (1 Viewer)

mitch

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Hi All,

I was watching Batman Begins in HD DVD and noticed that the volume is significantly lower than when I watch my SD DVD's. Is this because of the lossless audio format?

I have the Toshiba A2 HD DVD player [which I recently updated to the 2.7 firmware] and the Integra DTR 7.8 receiver [capable of all the new HD audio formats]. I am using HDMI connection from the Tosh to the Integra and then HDMI from the Integra to my Sony HD TV for my video. So, it's HDMI all around. I am using a 5.1 speaker array with my 5 Snell's and my SVS PB 12/Plus 2 super sub.

The audio setting on my A2 is SPDIF: Bitstream and HDMI:Auto.

Are my settings correct? I believe that the Batman Begins HD DVD audio is in DD Plus and when I hit the "display" button on the Tosh remote, it says just that.

Can someone please explain if I am "hooked up" properly and why my volume is so much lower than with SD DVD's?

Thanks as always!

Mitch
 

PaulDA

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There are several possibilities.

One--the dynamic range of the advanced codecs is greater than the legacy ones. If so, quieter passages will seem even more quiet (though louder passages should consequently be louder).

Two--there is a new mix/master for the hi-def disc and it has been mastered lower in dB than the SD DVD.

Three--HDMI audio input levels are not calibrated to the same levels as S/PDIF and/or analogue inputs.

If it is one or two, there is not much you can do about it except turn up the volume knob. If it is three, you can calibrate your levels for each type of input (if your receiver allows this) or calibrate your levels from the HDMI audio signal and adjust your volume accordingly for other inputs. My Integra DTR 6.4 (non-HDMI) does NOT allow me to set levels for different types of inputs (analogue, S/PDIF) but it DOES have a feature called Intellivolume that allows me to store a preset volume per source so when I switch from one source to another, the volume does not come out excessively loud or soft. Your receiver should have the same feature. If it does, you can set it to, say, -20dB for S/PDIF, -25dB for analogue and -15dB for HDMI1 and so on.

Just my 2 cents.
 

mitch

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Paul,

Thanks for your reply. Yes, my 7.8 does have the IntelliVolume and I will check this out.

I just wanted to be sure that my settings were correct relative to the Tosh A2. For the Batman Begins HD DVD, I had my volume on the Integra set to about -9. However, for most of my other SD DVD's, I have the volume set to somewhere between -15 to -20 or so.

Mitch
 

PaulDA

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It's quite possible that the difference is because of the greater dynamic range (the IntelliVolume feature should be helpful when you switch to another source). I usually listen at about -20dB from reference but I have a few discs with greater dynamic range and I have to boost that up to -15dB or so.

Do the loud parts sound louder (at the volume you normally listen to films)? You might want to try that out vs the SD DVD. If the loud parts are louder but the overall effect seems lower (dialogue is usually not that loud with greater dynamic range), then the mix is probably mastered with less compression.
 

Jeff Cooper

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Not sure about the volume issue, but regarding your settings there are a few things.

Batman Begins has a TrueHD track, you should be picking that one instead of the DD+ track, for better audio.

Also, set your SPDIF setting to 'PCM' instead of 'Bitstream'. You wouldn't think that the SPDIF setting affects the HDMI, but according to several reports on AVS, it does. HDMI output is correct on 'Auto'.
 

mitch

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Jeff,

Thanks for your reply. I didn't know that I had a choice of audio formats for the Batman Begins HD DVD. When the HD DVD starts, I don't remember it giving me a menu with a choice of audio formats.

Also, have you tried setting the SPDIF to PCM as opposed to Bitstream? What was the difference?

Mitch
 

Jeff Cooper

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Yeah, the movie just starts with no menu. Most Warner discs are like that. Once the movie starts press the menu button, or 'up' on the remote and that will bring up the menu where you can pick your audio.

Apparently setting SPDIF to PCM will make the HDMI output at a 96Khz sampling rate, while setting it SPDIF to Bitstream will make the HDMI output at 48Khz. I've tried them both, and couldn't really tell a difference, but this has been confirmed by several people at AVS, so I just leave my SPDIF to PCM.
 

mitch

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Thanks Jeff. Do you keep this same setting [HDMI:Auto and SPDIF:PCM] with all DVD's or just the HD DVD's when using HDMI?

Mitch
 

Jeff Cooper

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I just keep those settings and don't change anything. With HDMI set to AUTO, the player decodes the TrueHD, DD+, etc and sends it as 5.1 PCM for HD-DVDs (this player is not capable of bitstreaming the high-def soundtracks), and for SD-DVDs it bitstreams the DolbyD, DTS, etc to be decoded in the reciever.
 

mitch

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Jeff,

Maybe that's what I'm doing wrong. Do you have the Toshiba A2 as well? Which receiver do you have or do you have separates?

Thanks,

Mitch
 

Duncan Harvey

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I've also found both formats to be significantly lower in volume than DVD. This has been via analogue outputs and also via HDMI into my Sony amp.
 

Jeff Cooper

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I have an A2, and a Denon 2807 reciever, with a 5.1 sound setup. I am going HDMI to the receiver, like you.

I calibrated the audio using HD-Digital Video Essentails. The HD Side supplies a TrueHD track which I used to calibrate the Multi-Chanel In on the reciever (the A2 outputs TrueHD as PCM). I then flipped the disc over and used the SD side to calibrate the Dolby Digital In on the reciever (the SD side bitstreams a DD track out). My reciever stores separate levels for PCM inputs vs. Bistream inputs.

After calibrating, this way both HD DVD and standard DVD both are about the same in volume level. Actually HD DVD's are a little bit louder because most SD DVD soundtracks apply a -4db dialnorm to them.
 

mitch

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Jeff,

Thanks again for all of your help! You are a wealth of information. Once I get the chance to change the settings, I'll give it a try and let you all know what happens.

Mitch
 

mitch

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Hi All,

Well, I went back and changed the settings on myy A2 to HDMI:Auto and SPDIF:PCM as opposed to Bitstream. I played the Batman Begins HD DVD and went into the menu and chose DD+ track. I definitely noticed a difference in volume and subsonics [greater volume and deeper subsonics]. So that's a good thing!

However, when I went to check out my Apollo 13 HD DVD and Transformers HD DVD, the volume was still lower and the subsonics not so great. So, I'm still confused, but simply making the volume louder improves the subsonics significantly as you can imagine. Maybe it's just the way that these discs are produced.

I would be interested to know if anyone has experienced a similar situation.

Thanks,

Mitch
 

Jeff Cooper

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Is that just a typo? You should be picking the TrueHD track, not the DD+ track.

Yes, I've found that nearly every disc has a differrent volume level that seems to be optimal. It would be nice if they could standardize on such a thing! Good luck with that though. Transformers does indeed seem to be mastered at a lower volume than other discs. Turn it up and enjoy the awesome soundtrack on that disc!
 

mitch

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Hi All,

Well, I had a great conversation with Mike, a very knowledeable tech over at Toshiba today, and he told me that as long as you set the HDMI to Auto, it doesn't really matter what the SPDIF setting is [either Bitstream or PCM].

He told me that the HDMI set to Auto basically disables the SPDIF setting anyway. So that answers that question.

As far as lower volumes with some HD DVD's, he told me that he noticed that as well and that's just the way the disc was produced, it has nothing to do with the settings on the A2 [or the receiver]. So, just "crank it up" and enjoy!

Mitch
 

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