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maxmercy

The Low Frequency Content Thread (films, games, music, etc)

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Just for kicks, I put together dating for the above 4-star films:

 

Even though we have about 30 more films left to graph, some of which are heavy hitters, we did have Battle:LA and X-Men:1st Class last year, HTTYD the year before, and Star Trek and 9 in 2009. It looks like we can expect a true 4.5+ star film once a year, with some 4+ star films interspersed in between.....

 

2012 looks like is a suck year for ULF. When we got it in WotT, it was probably a home mix with limited dynamics. Amazing Spider Man has some ULF, but just lacks level as well, even though the dynamics are there.

 

It just really sucks that there is a disconnect in the sound continuity in the case of TDKR, just as there was in Avengers.

 

EDIT - list removed to preserve U/L space for charts.

 

JSS

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I really think we are starting to see a bit of the loudness wars with these action movies where the levels are pushed to the max on certain parts and in an effort to make the soundtrack more powerful on the typical system and get more headroom you filter out the low stuff for that last little bit. These clipping sounds that are starting to creep into soundtracks are to me almost worse than having a 30Hz high pass. A 30Hz high pass does bother me though. I can understand a 15 to 20Hz rumble filter as systems that can reproduce that well are relatively rare but 30Hz takes a lot of potential "fun" out of the bass.

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When I say distorted audio I mean it sounds scratchy at times during scenes. The Amazing spiderman did this one time when Parker was fighting with the bully in the beginning but the rest of the movie was fine. LOTR is very loud but I don't recall it doing this but I must say I have a new setup since watching the whole movie. WOTW never did this. The Dark Night Rises does this quite a few times with just one scene so far as I have not watched the movie yet. TDK never did this. I am talking when watching at reference. My speakers reveal everything and sometimes a great recorded movie will have flaws. When I said sounding like the cinema I meant the sound of the bass with no low frequency shake or weight to the mix. Our theaters always move more air though so the subs are always worth it, I was just venting as The dark night trilogy are awesome movies. I knew I used WOTW to death when demoing but it still should be.

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What's the general consensus at which point in the process whereby this neutering transpires?

 

A release that's high-passed across the board, is one thing. However, a release whereby exceptions are made and a single scene possesses the full extension (and all the realism that accompanies fully extended effects), that should be afforded to the entire soundtrack ..... makes no sense. Total bullshit.

 

Sound design was done by Richard King. He also has SD credit for WOTW, Dark Knight and Master & Commander, which gave me the impression that it couldn't have been filtered by the designer.

 

But, he also did Inception, Thor and this one, all 3 of which have a small taste of ULF and all 3 having been goosed (IMO) in level at the expense of ULF, as Josh suggests (and I tend to agree with him on that).

 

All things considered, I believe the filtering has to have been done during the mix process. I also believe it's done to allow headroom to make a scene "louder". If I imagine mixing through a system that rolls off at 30 Hzish and the 0dBFS alarm goes off or the sound auto-mutes when I boost the low end, I might say "Try a 20 Hz HPF and if that doesn't do it, try 30 Hz". If that lets me boost the scene and I couldn't hear anything below that on the system I'm doing playback through, I might just say "Let the filter ride".

 

The scene with ULF shows no taxing in the waveform graph, but the filtered scenes (like when The Bat first takes flight) shows quite a lot stronger waveform. It's very plausible to me that adding the HPF allowed for that huge burst and it's just as plausible that if there was <20 Hz content in that sound effect it would have limited the allowable level in the audible range.

 

Yes, this is a very disturbing trend to me. If this sacrificing the fidelity of the sound design to allow for a "louder" mix continues (Battleship is HPF'd at 40 Hz), we won't even need subwoofers.

 

More importantly, all action flick sound tracks will end up sounding exactly the same, compressed, loud as hell and fake. It'll become like the music business, like a Britney Spears CD through a boom box vs Telarc's 1812 Overture through a full BW system.

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I sincerely hope that will not be the case.

 

I should have the SW BDs done by the weekend. I am happy to report that the BDs are mixed nearly the same (within a dB) level-wise as he DVDs, if you watched the DVDs with the 4dB Dialnorm attenuation.

 

I do have to say, though, those 4dB make a palpable difference.....

 

Also I have Underworld:Awakening, Flight of the Phoenix, Superman Returns and Assassin's Bullet on the way from the 'Flix. When caught up, we should have 60+ titles in the data-bass....

 

JSS

 

PS - I am still working on the tutorial....

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I told HuskerOmaha that he'd enjoy TDKR, but not to run the subs hot - since he enjoys the ported sound, he'll love the bloated effects centered right in the wheelhouse of his buddy's big ported subs. ;)

 

But, in all seriousness, I thought the entire soundtrack for TDKR was poorly done. My special lady friend and I watched the BR and found just everything about the mix to be bad - the LFE effects were often bloated and overwhelming in the audible range, there are several places where there's obvious clipping that was noticeable at -25MV, and the entire mix felt like it had been wrung through the meat grinder, especially (and, I assume, intentionally) Bane's dialog which is essentially a voiceover.

 

I don't know if maybe my system isn't dialed in enough to enjoy a mix like this, or it's just a poor mix, but overall the movie was not enjoyable. The plot was thin, the aspect ratio changes were unnecessary, and we ended up shutting it down with about 40min left. A very low quality continuation of the franchise, and completely agree that it was FAR too long at 165 minutes. I'm failing to see how it got such high ratings on IMDb and RottenTomatoes.

 

Recommendation: do not buy.

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"Telarc's 1812 Overture" ..... the original, not the SACD, one of my all time fave demos. Our housefull, at Thanksgiving, wanted one music track for demo over the main system, I selected this one. That track is akin to a fine Jazz vocalist. One that knows the proper mic technique and the vocal dynamics to entirely quiet a room, ... and then slowly build to a spine tingling crescendo. When those canons fire off with that initial ignition crack, then the LF boom that follows, it's incredible ands there's nothing lke it.

 

It would be interesting to see the spectral content of some of the classic LF effects in music releases. In addition to the 1812 Oveture, Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra opening organ note is 32 hz, but may have some 16hz energy in there too. I think the score calls for double bass, contra-bassoon, organ.

 

With current EDM, who knows how low some of the content is. In my house, both American Idol, and X-Factor are big hits (spot on target demographic). Fortunately we record everything so no commercials and no lame performances are tolerated (I blow thru episodes in about 15 minutes, much to the dismay of my teen kids B) ). But, whoever is responsible, the kick drum often has this phenomenal hot, deep deep sub synthesis effect added to the fundamental, ....that is really a wild effect. Nothing like a kick drum, but whatever ... fun. Never heard anything like it.

 

----------

 

Back to this neutering issue. We need the perspective of a leading sound designer. Our sample size is too small to call it a trend. Too scary to even think that. :angry: Who knows, loudness war analogy seems plausible.

 

Thanks

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I got a chance to watch DKR at home yesterday. My twin LLT's had no problem with this soundtrack. Barely anything registers below 30hz. Ugh. However, there were some very loud 30-40hz content. The first showing of 'the Bat' when it takes off was very loud. I saw the clip indicator on my BFD light up during that part and I almost never see that. I think what Bosso and Ricci are saying about overall loudness is correct. Maybe there was the thought of filtering down low to bring up the headroom higher up because man that was loud. To me it was pretty awesome but I would much prefer some low, deep bass. With 10hz extension ... I mean, c'mon. Batman Begins had the best bass I think with the Dark Knight close in. At least it had deep bass.

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Is it like the ship in the beginning of AotC, Episode II? That had tremendous 43Hz content when it flies by. On DVD, when dialnorm is compensated for, it reads at around 116dB.....will be interesting to see this one graphed.

 

JSS

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Yes, well...sorta. It was that loud and stuff but I have a feeling there is sub 30hz content in that sequence from AotC. Good note though as the beginning of that sure would clip up my BFD. :P

 

DKR sure has a disappointing mix. Argh! It annoys me. I saw it in IMAX and regular and especially in IMAX the plane sequence with the music and gunshots being as loud as they are and fighting each other to be on top in the mix.... ugh, my ears are fatigued within minutes. I'd go as far to say that the first third or half of this movie is harder on the ears than any of the LOTR movies with their grating sound. I've recently started using my Onkyo's built in Re-EQ function cuz I get excess treble in my room. Still loud. I know that effects the high treble more so and this stuff is probably super loud 1-4khz. And that's so annoying. All the gunshots in the movie sound like a .308 mic'd an inch away. SUPER FUCKING LOUD and clipped so it sounds dull and flat but like rock concert loud. WTF!

 

Oh and I was watching at -7dB just for clarification.

 

Then about half way thru the movie it all tones down. Uhhhh ? The hell? The worst parts are definitely the plane sequence and the shoot out at the bar. The Bat sounds cool, imo but no deep stuff. It's too bad the Tumbler doesn't make it around much. I don't remember hearing them at all over the dang Bat when they are around.

 

Lot of people complained about Bane's voice being ... what, too forward or something? I thought it sounded fine. Kind of epic and larger than life which I kind of liked. Again, I don't have a small center channel so maybe I've got an edge on that. *shrugs*

 

Yep. Definitely not demo material. I wouldn't recommend it for that. I like Batman though so I bought it up and don't regret it.

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Scott,

 

You just described PERFECTLY what I heard at IMAX digital when I saw TDKR. I just thought it was bad calibration on the theater's part.....

 

JSS

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Scott,

 

You just described PERFECTLY what I heard at IMAX digital when I saw TDKR. I just thought it was bad calibration on the theater's part.....

 

JSS

 

Me too. Although my IMAX was 15/70 I don't think that would affect the sound...

 

Yeah. I was like, "this is almost too loud. Even for me!" but I didn't know at the time if it was just the theater or the mix, itself. Now I know and that sucks so much more. :( There isn't much to salvage from such a flat mix. Loudness wars definitely comes to mind on this one. I sort of thought when I was in the IMAX that they had goosed up the volume because ... it's Batman, c'mon! :P Yikes.

 

I certainly won't be replaying much from this one. So sad. Ugh, the AVS review of this gives a 100 out 100 for it's audio. Including 5 out of 5 for: Dynamics, low frequency extension, surround sound presentation, clarity detail and dialog reproduction. My goodness. Where has the bar to sit if this is a perfect A+ audio rating? :blink: So all the actually GOOD audio mixes out there must be 150 out of 100.

 

Turn it up to 11, brah.

 

Oye. :rolleyes:

 

AVENGERS HAS THE MOST AWESOME BASS, YO!!!! I LOVED THIS MOVIE.

 

Ahem, I mean Batman.

 

Fuck me.

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Is it like the ship in the beginning of AotC, Episode II? That had tremendous 43Hz content when it flies by. On DVD, when dialnorm is compensated for, it reads at around 116dB.....will be interesting to see this one graphed.

 

JSS

 

Not even close from where I sit. When the ship explodes in AOTC, it's a closer match, but neither part of the AOTC scene matches the loudness of The Bat:

 

 

AOTCvsTheBat.jpg

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I always capture the best scenes as I see them while watching the movie. Max's graph will show the general trend, whereas my caps will; show the highlights.

 

For those who see color below 30 Hz and wonder why we say the ST is filtered, here's a slowed scroll speed to capture more "action" on a single graph.

 

A HPF does not shut the sound off at 30 Hz as in a brick wall filter. It attenuates everything below 30 Hz at a rate equal to the order of the filter (6dB/octave, 12dB/octave, 24dB/octave, etc.), and this graph clearly shows a 4th order attenuation (24dB/octave, or -24dB from 30 Hz to 15 Hz) starting at 30 Hz:

 

 

TDKRFiltered.jpg

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Bosso,

If you were using AotC DVD caps, accounting for dialnorm may make them closer to DKR, or maybe not.

I find it VERY interesting that the under 30Hz stuff is ONLY in the IMAX prologue, which may have been finished prior to the rest of the film.....

In other news....

I do have a sleeper, that I actually downplayed a while back, prior to having ULF correction in my graphs:

Underworld:Awakening:

Level - 5 Stars (113.57dB composite)
Extension - 5 Stars (1Hz)
Dynamics - 3 Stars (23.13dB)
Execution - 5 Stars - This film is very much like Tron:Legacy without the clipping.

Overall - 4.5 Stars

Recommendation: Buy. It is an 88 minute good ride. Dynamics suffer only because most of the film is action.

JSS

post-20-0-67055200-1391199920_thumb.jpg

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Star Wars:The Phantom Menace:

Level - 4 Stars (110.79dB composite)
Extension - 3 Stars (16Hz)
Dynamics - 5 Stars (29.31dB)
Execution - 4 Stars - This film has the typical SW shallow rolloff below 30Hz. 

Overall - 4 Stars

Recommendation - Rent for LF purposes, Buy if you are a George Lucas Fanboy.


JSS

post-20-0-54793500-1391278021_thumb.jpg

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AOTCTitleBlock.JPG

AOTCPvA.JPG

AOTC1.JPG

AOTC2.JPG

AOTC3.JPG

AOTC4.JPG

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones

Level - 3 Stars (108.84dB composite)
Extension - 5 Stars (1Hz)
Dynamics - 4 Stars (26.81dB)
Execution - 4 Stars - Same SW rolloff, but very good use of LF, a heavy hitter in its time. 

Overall - 4 Stars

Recommendation - Rent. this film is not a very good SW film, but makes up for it with good use of LF.

JSS

post-20-0-32788200-1391327613_thumb.jpg

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Star Wars:Revenge of the Sith

Level - 2 Stars (106.31dB composite)
Extension - 4 Stars (14Hz)
Dynamics - 5 Stars (27.59dB)
Execution - 3 Stars - A total mail-in in level and overall sound. The lightsabers in Episode II really have heft. In this film, not so much. Oh, and any film can have incredible 'dynamics' if it is nearly 3 hours long with long stretches of terrible dialogue.

Overall - 3.5 Stars

Recommendation - Rent.


JSS

post-20-0-18543400-1391455612_thumb.jpg

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THX Cavalcade is still my favorite THX trailer. :)

 

It is the trailer that started my whole quest for clean LFE. It would ALWAYS distort my store-bought sub....used to listen at -20 to -25dBRef because of that distortion....

 

JSS

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Star Wars:A New Hope Blu Ray

Level - 4 Stars (110.45dB composite)
Extension - 3 Stars (16Hz)
Dynamics - 5 Stars (29.63dB)
Execution - 5 Stars - This is the film that STARTED all of LFE in films. Without it, THX would not have even materialized, and we would be stuck with a 40Hz lower limit. I still find the Millenium Falcon's engines impressive after all of these years, especially after getting a little more LF added to them for the BluRay. I cannot abide some of the changes Lucas has made, but I can appreciate each 'version' for what it is....

Overall - 4.25 Stars

Recommendation - Buy. This film is a classic. I can still remember seeing it in a smoky (people used to smoke in theaters) theater with Spanish subtitles in 1977... and re-enacting as much as I could remember on the car-ride home.


JSS

That's it for tonight, folks....

post-20-0-01238000-1390945835_thumb.jpg

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Dave reminded me of a good one I just watched not too long ago. Monster House. Not a whole lot of action until the end sequence but after that it gets pretty good.

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