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

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BvS: Definitely a solid soundtrack on this one. Lots of bass, but clean and well extended. Sometimes with significant ULF. Reminded me of Mad Max, but slightly less "over the top" loud and more activity down very low. Far better extension and slam compared to MoS, which is obvious early in with the terraformer going havoc in Metropolis.

Also, great enveloping soundstage overall with rich dialogue. Definitely a 4/5 soundtrack from me. 

As for the movie, it's not at all deserving of all the hate it's received. It's not perfect, there is some clumsiness here and there (like abundant plot points, over-the-top characters and dialogue which makes zero sense) but boy is it a grande, ambitious superhero spectacle. Reminded me more of Watchmen than Man of Steel actually, in its visual feel and flare. Massive, spectacular action moments but also dark, weighty themes and Affleck is a fantastic Batman/Bruce Wayne. 

I liked it. 

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Star Trek: Beyond - Dolby ATMOS

 

Level - 4 Stars (110.16dB composite)

Extension -  0 Stars (33Hz)

Dynamics - 5 Stars (28.55dB)

Execution - TBD

Overall - TBD

 

Comments - Wow, what a rolloff.  But the good news is only clips occasionally in the LFE channel, LCRS are clean, no flat-tops.  This one will probably need a BEQ correction.

 

post-20-0-51702200-1478298817.jpg

 

JSS

 

I have pretty much given up movies, I find I rarely see a movie these days, and it is a long time since I bought a new movie.

When I sit down in the media room I end up listening to music instead, other entertainment can be anything streamed from the net, just as good to watch something on youtube when this is the current level for sound quality in movies.

 

A combination of ignorance and incompetence has destroyed what could have been a great business opportunity for the whole supply chain - from content providers to equipment manufacturers - and a great experience for movie enthusiasts.

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Star Trek: Beyond - Dolby ATMOS

 

Level - 4 Stars (110.16dB composite)

Extension -  0 Stars (33Hz)

Dynamics - 5 Stars (28.55dB)

Execution - TBD

Overall - TBD

 

Comments - Wow, what a rolloff.  But the good news is only clips occasionally in the LFE channel, LCRS are clean, no flat-tops.  This one will probably need a BEQ correction.

 

post-20-0-51702200-1478298817.jpg

 

JSS

 

Thanks Max. I was thinking about buying the movie without renting it first but I am glad that I rented it first. It was so badly filtered I thought something was wrong with my system, haha. I had to put in Gravity to make sure everything was still OK. :D

 

PS: Spoiler Alert - the new Independance Day movie is just as much of a disappointment. Not the same horrible filter but absolutely zero below 20 Hz. Massive aliens stomping around, huge space ships, etc, and nothing below 20 Hz. :( 

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BEQ significantly helps Star Trek Beyond.  It doesn't make it a monster, but the LF that was shelved was in the right places.

 

JSS

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When I sit down in the media room I end up listening to music instead, other entertainment can be anything streamed from the net, just as good to watch something on youtube when this is the current level for sound quality in movies.

 

A combination of ignorance and incompetence has destroyed what could have been a great business opportunity for the whole supply chain - from content providers to equipment manufacturers - and a great experience for movie enthusiasts.

 

Just my 2 cents because it feels like such an hyperbole.

 

I understand people being disappointed by what looks to be underwhelming bass, but should we say stuff on Youtube is equivalent to that ?

Bass isn't the only component of a soundtrack, I'm quite certain people here know that better than me. I'm unsure if it's still the case, but Youtube was not long ago maxing out at 192 kbps AAC. I don't think this will ever come close to most of the BD lossless soundtracks (and actually many unfiltered lossy soundtracks).

 

There are reviewers praising filtered lossless tracks over unfiltered lossy ones (catalog movies) or people throwing the baby out with the washwater because they only focus on 1 component (here : bass). I don't think it's helping the whole cause.

 

Even when looking at the first post here, notes simply seems to follow a classical Gauss curve. More than half of the BDs listed have a 4+ score. 16% are scoring 3 or below, 38% 3.5 or below.

 

Yes, it's quite disappointing to see blockbusters that should get reference AQ to be rolled off at 30 Hz, but it certainly hasn't destroyed "destroyed what could have been a great business opportunity for the whole supply chain and a great experience for movie enthusiasts."

Because, again, at least half of the BDs listed here should content people, but also because even within movie enthusiasts, such a deep focus on bass only concerns a small part of the enthusiasts (and they would also need to be equipped adequately to detect this type of things).

 

 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a lot the insights people are are displaying and it helps me a lot understanding what I'm hearing when watching the BDs listed here. But it's only part of the soundtrack, which itself is only part of the experience.

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The reason for the semi-Gaussian distribution is that only 3 people, who receive zero compensation, have measured the films listed.  The rating system was developed and is flawed in that most films will rate 3+.  There would be far more <3 Star rated films if people would take the time to measure every release.  I tend to only measure the releases I think will have significant LF effects, hence the number of 4+ Star films listed.  

 

If anyone wants to, they can measure more dialogue-heavy films to flesh out the list, or come up with a new ratings system.  But I do not have the time.  

 

Most of the folks here know that with the current state of cinema mixing and monitoring capability, we are fortunate to have content <30Hz, and we are glad to get it, having invested significant resources to play it back in our homes.

 

FWIW, I prefer an unclipped, dynamic mix above all.  If the sound designers saw it fit to include infrasonics in the production, but it gets shelved away in mixing, that is relatively easy to fix with BEQ.  Star Trek Beyond is a perfect example.  Clean mix, decent dynamics, and the content was simply shelved under 30Hz.  With BEQ, the LF sweep with the Enterprise traveling at warp digs down to the high teens instead of fading away at 40Hz

 

But there is no fixing clipped waveforms and over-compressed tracks, and we seem get those more often.

 

JSS

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I second this one. Most movies I've watched do not have much in the way of deep bass, as all things considered it's still not that common of a thing. I haven't been too active on the measuring front lately due to time and a general lack of enthusiasm for any movie released recently.

 

As far as focusing on one thing, well that's pretty much what this forum is for. I doubt anybody would deny that we focus on bass maybe too much, but that's the fun stuff so why not?

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BvS: Definitely a solid soundtrack on this one. Lots of bass, but clean and well extended. Sometimes with significant ULF. Reminded me of Mad Max, but slightly less "over the top" loud and more activity down very low. Far better extension and slam compared to MoS, which is obvious early in with the terraformer going havoc in Metropolis.

Also, great enveloping soundstage overall with rich dialogue. Definitely a 4/5 soundtrack from me. 

As for the movie, it's not at all deserving of all the hate it's received. It's not perfect, there is some clumsiness here and there (like abundant plot points, over-the-top characters and dialogue which makes zero sense) but boy is it a grande, ambitious superhero spectacle. Reminded me more of Watchmen than Man of Steel actually, in its visual feel and flare. Massive, spectacular action moments but also dark, weighty themes and Affleck is a fantastic Batman/Bruce Wayne. 

I liked it.

 

Did you watch the theatrical or extended version? I ask because the extended version is a much better movie. It really completes a lot of the scenes that are confusing or odd in the theatrical release. Needless to say, I won't ever watch the theatrical again.

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Did you watch the theatrical or extended version? I ask because the extended version is a much better movie. It really completes a lot of the scenes that are confusing or odd in the theatrical release. Needless to say, I won't ever watch the theatrical again.

 

 

The theatrical! The extended is not yet available in my country, but I'll be sure to watch that one as well. Still enjoyed the theatrical version. 

 

 

On a different note, what I did not enjoy was Independence Day: Resurgence. I expected a bad movie but I didn't expect the worst I've seen so far this year. It absolutely f-ing stinks, in just about every way imaginable except for visual effects. A couple of cool shots of an atlantic-ocean sized spaceship wrecking havoc is all it's got going for it. 

 

Maybe the audio was good I don't know, felt soft to me. Didn't use my subwoofer as I didn't want to wake my neighbours. 

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As a disclaimer : I'm not trying to pick a fight or anything. I was just genuinely curious about Kvalsvoll's original statement and wanted to discuss it (and now does the same with maxmercy's one). I've been reading this thread for quite some months now, but I admittedly never discussed on it before, so I apologise if this reads out in the wrong way somehow. This is not my purpose at all.

 

As far as focusing on one thing, well that's pretty much what this forum is for. I doubt anybody would deny that we focus on bass maybe too much, but that's the fun stuff so why not?

 

Which I totally understand. :)  I mean : this is the "Low frequency content" thread after all ! But it nevertheless shouldn't prevent people to avoid hyperboles when possible. I'm not defending cheap mix and disappointing AQ, just challenging Kvalsvoll's statement.

 

The reason for the semi-Gaussian distribution is that only 3 people, who receive zero compensation, have measured the films listed.  The rating system was developed and is flawed in that most films will rate 3+.  There would be far more <3 Star rated films if people would take the time to measure every release.  I tend to only measure the releases I think will have significant LF effects, hence the number of 4+ Star films listed. If anyone wants to, they can measure more dialogue-heavy films to flesh out the list, or come up with a new ratings system.

 

I'm now even more baffled by this answer than Kvalsvoll's original statement.

 

It's all a question of the sample you're looking to analyse. Do you care about bass content in catalog movies or the latest Pedro Almodovar movie ? 

 

The movies listed here seems to often be blockbusters or action movies (ie movies viewers expect to have powerful soundtracks). If you're looking to discriminate adequate powerful AQ from perfect powerful AQ, it seems adequate to test these rather than, say, Cafe Society. You score soundtracks with powerful bass where you can find them. You have a relevant sample and are trying to discriminate within it. Adding non-relevant movies will only artificially flesh out the list (like Only Lovers Left Alive).

 

If the powerfully sonic movies measured mostly get 4+ scores while they shouldn't, then, either movies with significant LF effects are actually objectively good (and they then shouldn't draw negative generalization), or the rating system is indeed so flawed that it fails to properly discriminate movies even within the scope of what it wants to achieve (ie guide people towards Edge of Tomorrow but not Star Trek Beyond, in opposition to Children of Men but not Cafe Society).

 

I don't know what Star Trek Beyond final score will be, but I suppose it shouldn't be 4+. As of now, it should be 3, which actually is pretty meh for such a movie. One would have hoped for it to be much better, so I guess that's why it's being measured here. Is Star Trek Beyond supposed to be worse than 3 ? If it does, then, one should either ponderate the weaker point more heavily, or set up new thereshold for the highest ratings. From my readings here, it seems that the extension is often a focus point, so I'd suppose ponderating it harder in the average might be a solution.

I don't know what Star Trek Beyond final score will be, but I suppose it shouldn't be 4+. As of now, it should be 3, which is pretty meh.

 

 

EDIT : I've downloaded the Google spreadsheet. I'll have a look tomorrow to shift the Gaussian distribution towards 2.5 instead of the current 3.5. The aim of this list, I suppose, is to select the best of the bests. Even within 3+ or 4+ movies, some movies are better than others, so this looks like a distribution methodology issue more than anything.

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I wouldn't obsess much over the star ratings.  The system has many flaws that have been discussed in depth before.  I find the peak vs. average chart and the comments to be more useful.

 

And yeah, the roll-off frequency on ST:Beyond is about as bad as I've ever seen for a film in one of the "bass movie" genres.

 

I do agree with maxmercy though that I like a good clean mix with minimal clipping and compression.   I also usually prefer soundtracks that don't have certain a narrow range of bass frequencies overemphasized or EQed up.  These exhibit a hump in the peak and average curves around some frequency.  Typically, this is in the 30-40 Hz range, as this is the lowest most cinema subs play loudly, but sometimes humps are added a bit lower instead.  Where such boosts are used, the soundtrack effects often have an annoying one-note quality to them.

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I like your enthusiasm.  If you would like to re-vamp the ratings system based on the data we have gathered, I'm all for it.  I know the rating system is flawed, but at this time, even if I or you did change it, I would not have the time to go back and re-rate all the films, update all the links, etc.

 

If you would like to take on this task, please do so.  My time is much more limited now than when I started this project; I can barely watch one or two films in the HT at greater than -10dBRef monthly, if I am lucky.

 

JSS

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I like your enthusiasm.  If you would like to re-vamp the ratings system based on the data we have gathered, I'm all for it.  I know the rating system is flawed, but at this time, even if I or you did change it, I would not have the time to go back and re-rate all the films, update all the links, etc.

 

If you would like to take on this task, please do so.  My time is much more limited now than when I started this project; I can barely watch one or two films in the HT at greater than -10dBRef monthly, if I am lucky.

 

JSS

 

I like what this forum is doing, there isn't many forums focused on such a specific part of a BD (sound) and then such a specific part of this part (bass). I get often through data at work so I'm not too bothered working this kind of things around. I'm certainly not a statistician expert but if I can help to slightly fine-tune data systems, why not ? It's more of an exercice to me to keep practicing working data and figures and if this helps somehow... :)

This being written, I probably won't have the time to re-rate individually the movies individually. So far, I'm more looking into the spreadsheet as a whole, cluster by cluster.

 

 

The first thing I see is that the Dynamics data have basically no correlation with the final averaged score (movies with dynamics at 30dB can end up with final scores of 1.5 up to 4.5), so that would be one thing to look at, because Extension and Level are much more correlated to the final score. There is way too few Dynamics score below 2 (only 3 out of 400). It's too easy to score 3+ but even a 5 on Dynamics can yield an overall score of 2 or 3 (53 movies with 5 on Dynamics score 3 or less in overall). I would take the following scoring instead of the current one :

 

1 star < 25 dB

2 stars < 27.5 dB

3 stars < 30 dB

4 stars < 32.5 dB

5 stars > 32.5 dB

 

With this new scoring, it's down to 7 movies scoring 5 on Dynamics but 3 or less in overall.

 

 

An other more important thing would be the extension. There are MANY movies below 10 Hz (180), so it's also helping good extensions to score very high very quickly. It doesn't seem realistic to cut down the <10 Hz into 2 scores (because there's no way a 7 Hz extension shouldn't score a 5), but there also might be something to do there. Half points or decimal scores if the extension is between 1 and 10 Hz ?

 

 

Finally, I'm not sure the Execution should be taken into account in the average score. It's the only thing very well correlated to the overall score, but it's also a subjective element. It might be better off outside the overall score calculation, as some kind of cross-checking value ("OK, the figures are good BUT this one sounded better than that one to me so I would push this one rather than that one"). It's correlated in a rather clean way anyway, so I wouldn't worry about sending too often contradictory messages.

 

 

Level seems fine. There seems to be a bit too much movies scoring 3 or less not correlated to the final score compared to 4+ movies, but why not ? There's a slight shift maybe to do there.

 

 

Is there a more recent spreadsheet available ? It's an easy way to navigate through the data available, so if there's one, I'm all for it, it'll be a more complete work for me. I don't want to propose changes which turn out to be inadequate.

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No more recent sheet I am aware of.  Nube's determination to get that spreadsheet that full of data (to say nothing of re-doing ALL the links from the first post when the site crashed) was a huge undertaking.

 

JSS

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Finding Dory-Pixar/Disney

DTS-HD MA 7.1

 

 

Sound Design: Tim Nielsen

Supervising Sound Editor: Steve Slanec

Re-Recording Mixers: Michael Semanick, Nathan Nance

 

Level: 1 Star (104.53dB)

Extension: 3 Stars (16Hz)

Dynamics: 5 Stars (31.65dB)

 

animation-451907.jpg

 

Polite.......That's the best word to describe the soundtrack to Pixar's latest eye candy extravaganza.  At no point will this track threaten your sound system or annoy the neighbors.  It doesn't sound bad per se, but compared to some of Pixar's past thunderhouses (Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo) it's definitely a step down when it comes to low end.  There are a few moments where the bass gets a bit more active (the kiddie touch pool), but even then it's more of a noticeable rumble than anything really impressive.

 

Soundtrack quality is quite good for the most part.  The overall volume level is pretty low (I had to turn it up about 5dB above my usual setting) and clipping is absent outside of a few isolated (and brief) incidents in the center channel during shouting matches.  

 

Like I said before, it's a decent, competent and polite sound mix.  However.....there were several opportunities that called for strong impactful bass and it wasn't there, so when the movie ended I couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. 

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By request:

 

The Neverending Story-Warner Bros.

DTS-HD MA 5.1

 

Supervising Sound Editor: Mike Le Mare

Re-Recording Mixers: Milan Bor, Trevor Pyke

 

Level: 3 Stars (108.02dB)

Extension: 3 Stars (19Hz)

Dynamics: 3 Stars (24.99dB)

 

movie-580467.jpg

 

A lot of people (myself included) have a soft spot for this movie due to watching it countless times while growing up.  So it was good news when Warner Bros. decided to put out a decent Blu-Ray of the movie.  While the picture quality is good, what is more surprising is the heavy bass contained on the soundtrack.  This movie was originally released in Dolby Stereo, so the 5.1 soundtrack is obviously a processed affair.  And it appears that part of that processing was a significant level of bass enhancement.  This movie goes louder and deeper than any early 80's movie has a right to.  While it's not a foundation mover, it does dig under 20Hz with decent authority at times.  On top of that there is no clipping in sight, as the levels never go near 0 dB and there are no flattops in the waveforms.

 

That being said there's no escaping the fact that this is a soundtrack originally designed in the early 80's on analog equipment.  The dynamics are pretty flat and the soundstage is narrow and messy on occasion.  And while the bass levels may be high on paper, subjectively it doesn't sound particularly good.  Big events have an absurd amount of booming 20-30Hz thunder to them.  It's loud, but it's flabby as all hell and overwhelming at times.  I ended up turning my sub down to enjoy the movie.  Loud bass is one thing, but the wet thunder farts all over this remix are a bit much.

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I'm pretty sure they used a subharmonic synthesizer on that one, indiscriminately across the whole track and with the effect level turned up pretty high.  Some of the bass effects are  entertaining, but I found most to sound unbalanced, weird, and just plain annoying.

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I'm pretty sure they used a subharmonic synthesizer on that one, indiscriminately across the whole track and with the effect level turned up pretty high.  Some of the bass effects are  entertaining, but I found most to sound unbalanced, weird, and just plain annoying.

 

That's the same impression I got.  Hell there's a plugin from Waves Audio that can take a 5 channel track and synthesize an octave shifted LFE channel out of it.  I knew something was up when the opening song had an annoyingly loud 30Hz synth bass running though it.  It just didn't sound natural.

 

Not sure if it's worth doing a poll on this one but I'd give it a 2 at best for execution.

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Finding Dory-Pixar/Disney

DTS-HD MA 7.1

 

 

Polite.......That's the best word to describe the soundtrack to Pixar's latest eye candy extravaganza.  At no point will this track threaten your sound system or annoy the neighbors.  It doesn't sound bad per se, but compared to some of Pixar's past thunderhouses (Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo) it's definitely a step down when it comes to low end.  There are a few moments where the bass gets a bit more active (the kiddie touch pool), but even then it's more of a noticeable rumble than anything really impressive.

 

Soundtrack quality is quite good for the most part.  The overall volume level is pretty low (I had to turn it up about 5dB above my usual setting) and clipping is absent outside of a few isolated (and brief) incidents in the center channel during shouting matches.  

 

Like I said before, it's a decent, competent and polite sound mix.  That being said there were several opportunities that called for strong impactful bass and it wasn't there, so when the movie ended I couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. 

 

I completely agree. I SpecLab'd the movie (purchased for my 4 year old son for Christmas but I opened it to watch it and measure it last weekend) and felt the exact same way. I honestly wasn't expecting a power-house but was surprised to see that it reached right down to 20'ish Hz. Filtered pretty hard a little below 20 but decent and "safe" bass dynamics and extension overall. 

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I've noticed there's a new crop of Skywalker Sound guys that have been working on the last few Pixar movies, and none of them seem to have the same fetish for bass as previous designers like Gary Rydstrom and Randy Thom (and to a lesser extent Tom Myers).

 

The soundtracks are still very nice from a technical standpoint and are well produced, but it's been a long time since they've had anything as memorable, bass wise, as Darla tapping on the glass or the sock detonation from Monsters Inc.

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I've noticed there's a new crop of Skywalker Sound guys that have been working on the last few Pixar movies, and none of them seem to have the same fetish for bass as previous designers like Gary Rydstrom and Randy Thom (and to a lesser extent Tom Myers).

 

The soundtracks are still very nice from a technical standpoint and are well produced, but it's been a long time since they've had anything as memorable, bass wise, as Darla tapping on the glass or the sock detonation from Monsters Inc.

 

Hmm.  HTTYD2 was done by Randy Thom, right?  That soundtrack has a lot in common with what's being discussed here.  The bass in HTTYD2 is indeed tame, even as it still honestly extends to 20 Hz.  The track overall was also very clean, dynamic, and not loud at all.  I personally enjoyed it a lot, but would definitely have appreciated more bass, even if it wasn't over-the-top like the first movie.

 

A lot of people decried HTTYD2 as having a "TV speakers" mix, but I'm inclined to disagree.  Aside from what was lacking in the bass department, I thought the track sounded above-average for dynamics as far as action movie soundtracks go.  I guess I could see the bass being toned down to allow for a cleaner, more dynamic sound to come through TV speakers, but wouldn't a better strategy be to push that bass to the LFE channel instead of getting rid of it entirely?  At least in theory, the LFE content won't be played through TV speakers.  But as I understand it, the LFE channel is often treated only as a "spill-over" channel for bass in effects that would otherwise run out of headroom in the mains channels.

 

I also wonder how much this shift in sound design reflects a recognition that subs in most theaters sound like dirt, frequently being way under-sized and often exhibiting annoying one-note response character regardless of the content.

 

As a matter of curiosity, how much difference does it make to turn the master volume up a bit on these?  I know I played HTTYD2 +5 dB higher than a typical movie for the same loudness, and that equates to an increase in level rating of up to 3-4 stars.

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The level rating is based on the raw digital signal. So even if something has great dynamics if the overall volume is low it will suffer in the ranking.

 

Traditionally the LFE was used exactly how you stated. The reasoning being that even theaters that didn't have dedicated subwoofers would get some bass through the main channels. A few years ago I did an experiment where I turned off the LFE. Most movies still had decent levels of bass. The only real exception was Attack of the Clones. For whatever reason virtually all the low bass in that movie is in the LFE.

 

As far as why HTTYD2 was so much more tame compared to the first, only the filmmakers know. It is possible that theater owners who didn't put high pass filters in their signal chain cooked their subs and then complained.

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