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

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1 hour ago, Infrasonic said:

Will do.
I do know that the Xcurve is not baked into the actual mix. This EQ is part of the calibration of the system in the room itself. Not apart of the mix.

No, the X curve is not applied to the mix by default or in any kind of automated fashion.  Instead, the X-curve imparts a tonal shift that affects what the re-recording mixers hear and influences the EQ they apply on the dub-stage.  The mixers are likely to boost the highs and lows to compensate for what they hear.

1 hour ago, Infrasonic said:

> "compared to how things work for music (no standards) and "home mixes.."

Well... now see. That's the problem. You're conflating issues that exist across a varying multitude of different circumstances, layouts, equipment, expectations, etc. What can be applied as good methods for one market will not yield identical results in another. You're probably going to go on a long thing about inroom response and different attenuation levels and response shapes and all that stuff. :P

Large room acoustics =/= small room acoustics.

What you really should be saying is: room A acoustics =/= room B acoustics.  Size is only one of many room variables, and in fact, listening distance and speaker dispersion pattern are probably at least as important.  In some ways, this gets us lost among many details be especially important here.

A crucial issue is to distinguish between the effect the above variables have on *perception* from the effect these variables have on the *metric* used in the calibration process.  Ideally, the calibration process would rely on a metric that is 100% consistent with perception.  Power-averaged response, which is the metric used for X-curve calibration, is not very consistent with perception at all.  It is, however, strongly influenced by room acoustics.

2 hours ago, Infrasonic said:

> The cinema basically calibrates for a flat power response, even though a flat speaker under similar circumstances is likely to develop an in-room response with much more tilt.  This approach is flawed from the outset because research strongly supports flat direct sound response as preferred over flat power response.  While music production does not rely on any standards....

Omg... who'd of guessed. :P

I'm assuming your response is with regard to the fact that music production doesn't rely on standards?  Therein lies a real irony about the cinema standards.  It is a case of "no standards" being better than "bad standards".

The lack of standards in music forces engineers to adhere to established precedent, which serves as an informal standard.  They listen to recordings they consider to be good references and mix and master to achieve approximate parity with those references.  Dr. Toole calls this "The Circle of Confusion" for good reason, but in fact, I'd argue that the situation with cinema is worse.  That's because, while on the one hand, the cinema standards fail to achieve consistency between different playback systems, the engineers trust in the accuracy of their "calibrated" systems and mostly disregard precedent when making mixing decisions.  They simply mix to "what sounds best" to them and assume it will sound like that on other properly calibrated systems.

Now to be fair, not all cinema engineers are mixing like I describe above.  Through their experience, they have surely noticed that different dub stages sound different and have learned to compensate their mixing technique accordingly with the aim of achieving better results in a wider range of venues.  Furthermore, the X-curve standard was actually a decent even if imperfect 1970s-era solution to a very real problem: high frequency absorption of screens is variable, and the best calibration tools that were available at that time relied on power-averaged response analysis of pink noise signals.  It's just that today, we have much more capable measurement methods and a much better understanding of perceptual issues.

Along those lines, I disagree that Dr. Toole's recommendation (see the second of the two above papers) for calibrating in-room magnitude-smoothed response to a standardized sloped target is the optimal solution, but I believe it'd be a big improvement over the X curve.  His recommendation would effectively free up an extra 4-6 dB of headroom per screen channel in cinema soundtracks and would probably lead to a big improvement in the bass for cinema presentations overall.  (I'll refrain from giving a detailed justification for this final point unless someone wants me to.)

4 hours ago, Infrasonic said:

Well. You didn't have to. There are parts in what you say that are accurate and some that are wildly inaccurate. But that's okay. :D I'm too lazy (and at work :ph34r:) to even bother correcting anything. Either way, I already look like an asshole and just don't have it in me to defend my own statements. Ya'll believe whatever you want to believe.

Don't have the energy to debate against full audiophile mode. Sorry. I just enjoy movies, enjoy how they are made (even when it frustrates me) and like to replicate the cinema experience at home. *shrugs*

 

Lol, I have outlived my usefulness on these audio boards. I'm just here to have a good time. :P

You're right.  I didn't have to expand into great deal.  I'm just a big geek, you know.  :D  And I'm actually quite excited because I think I've finally mostly unraveled a lot of things about film audio that were previously confusing to me and still are confusing to many others.

I stand by my statements about the X-curve standard inhibiting headroom on cinema soundtracks, but in time, this is becoming a lot less relevant for those of us who mostly care about home theater, because home mixes are becoming more and more common and are improving in quality.  I would not be surprised in the least if "Dunkirk" is a clear exception to this trend.  It's probably a straight-up cinema mix and a very loud one at that.  Which is still fine by me because I'll re-EQ it as needed when I get a-hold of it.  :)

The X-curve is still a big problem in cinema, and I think it's hurting the industry, even if they don't realize it or won't admit it.  Dr. Toole has pointed out that many cinemas are hosting music and sports events and corporate video conferences, and stuff like that in order to bring in more revenue, but because they are calibrated on X-curve, all that other audio sounds like poo.  That can't be good for their bottom line, and it's the kind of thing that customer satisfaction surveys aren't likely to reveal, being that the influence of audio quality is so unconscious.

FWIW, you're like one of the least "asshole" kind of people on these parts, which is why it's kind of funny the way you responded to me.  :P  Often that kind of thing pisses me off, but I don't care at this point because I know you and because it doesn't matter that much anyway.  Part of my confidence regarding the X-curve is that I can clearly hear it.  I'm routinely identifying cinema mixes and re-EQing them to sound better.

Ahh yes, so now you think I'm blabbering in Audiophilese?  "I can hear the difference man!  This will totally transform your audio experience for the better."  OK fine, but consider that I really suck at understanding dialog in films.  Like, my ears aren't golden at all but are tarnished, maybe even rust colored, right?  So when I apply re-EQ and dialog that was shouty and muddy and almost impossible to follow suddenly becomes clear and intelligible, I take note.  That's what I'm talking about here.

If you'd like, name some titles, hopefully at least one of which is in my library.  I'll put it in and try to identify if it's a cinema track that will benefit from re-EQ, I'll play around with it and then publish some PEQs to try to see if it cleans up for you.  Is it worth a try?  Otherwise, come visit me here in Denver and hear for yourself.

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Some of the thumbnails noted in prior posts that do not lead to full-size PvAs will hopefully have their images available again soon.  

JSS

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 Just got home from a screening of The Last Jedi.  A favorite reviewer of mine says this is a movie of incredible 'moments' tied together by underwhelming material, and I agree.  The sound mix was certainly aggressive though.  It's been a while since I've heard such active use of the surround speakers.  Shit was flying everywhere.  The bass was very, very similar to TFA and R1 but not quite as one dimensional as the latter.  I'm guessing we'll eventually see the same 30Hz bump with some content below that.  A handful of effects seemed to have a little extra depth to them but they were few and far between. 

I will say this movie has a very high ratio of stuff that blows up real good, including a couple of near apocalyptic infernos.

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On 12/14/2017 at 10:00 PM, minnjd said:

 Just got home from a screening of The Last Jedi.  A favorite reviewer of mine says this is a movie of incredible 'moments' tied together by underwhelming material, and I agree.  The sound mix was certainly aggressive though.  It's been a while since I've heard such active use of the surround speakers.  Shit was flying everywhere.  The bass was very, very similar to TFA and R1 but not quite as one dimensional as the latter.  I'm guessing we'll eventually see the same 30Hz bump with some content below that.  A handful of effects seemed to have a little extra depth to them but they were few and far between. 

I will say this movie has a very high ratio of stuff that blows up real good, including a couple of near apocalyptic infernos.

I can agree with a lot of this.  I enjoyed the movie a lot, despite it being a narrative train-wreck.  I really appreciate the story they were trying to tell, but they did a very poor telling of it.  I think there was 30-40 minutes (or maybe even more) of footage closer to the beginning that should have hit the editing floor.  In its place, they should have devoted a lot more time to developing the characters.  Instead, the plot felt very forced with key character developments being implied "after the fact".  The scripting was also sub-par with many lines and much of the comic relief being awkward and out-of-character.  I'm really surprised now to see critics liking it so much.  My opinions on movies usually side with the critics but not this time.  Still, it was definitely worth watching, and I will watch it and enjoy it again, but I cannot call this a good movie for the reasons stated above.  It is a shame because it could have been so much more.  I hope this director does not come back to the franchise

As for the sound, I agree that it seemed to have a lot in common with the previous movies.  I didn't get the impression that 30 Hz was emphasized, but it's hard to say for sure without a good reference.  The subs in the cinema I went to were decent and delivered balanced LFE with a fair bit of chest sensation and even some signs of extension into the 20s.

Other than that, the tonal balance of the presentation was definitely mediocre.  The speakers themselves seemed to be nice and smooth.  I think they were fairly new model JBLs.  The surrounds, which were visible, had nicely contoured waveguides matched to what looked like 10" woofers.  The sound was quite thin overall, especially in the 250-500 Hz octave, and it seemed to emphasize 1.5-2kHz a bit too much while also sounding too rolled off at the top.  That's completely consistent with what I'd expect in an X-curve calibrated cinema, and I reckon the re-recording mixers applied EQ quite sparingly on the dub-stage.  Toward the end of the movie where things got a tad louder, the ~1.5-2k emphasis was slightly fatiguing.  Oddly enough, the surrounds sounded significantly better, which made me glad that they got used a lot.  I think they may have mixed the score a lot more into the surrounds this time than in TFA.

The funny thing is that my wife and my sister and her husband could easily tell the inferior tonal balance as well.  We all watched TFA on my system last Sunday.  :)  I'm real stoked to get this one home and hear it with some BEQ.  I'm sure the sound will really come alive then.  I have a feeling that it will have better bass than TFA did.  I dunno if it will compete with Rogue One + BEQ though.  That one was really awesome with the stupid 30 Hz hump fixed.

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The Last Jedi - I agree with both reviews above re: plot and pacing, with some impressive plot holes/inconsistencies thrown in for convenient 'timing' of scenes.  It sounds like lots of focus groups and executive (above director level) decisions may have hampered the end product, if I had to guess....or maybe not?

I would not want to be a director on an upcoming SW film, especially the 'Episode' films.  I would guess directors would get a little more creative leeway with the 'Anthology' series of films.

Making a film that "can't fail" often means you can get a definitively mediocre product in the process.

But the sound....I was fortunate.  I had a terrific sounding system at the theater I saw it in.  It was played back at '6' on the Dolby Box, or 82dBC, and it sounded clean, cleaner than anything I have heard in a few years, and not fatiguing or shrill.  Neither my wife nor I EVER reached for the Etymotics we always have on hand when going to the cinema after the hearing damage I am certain I sustained at 'Skyfall' at the local LieMAX (around 3 mos after it was announced LieMAX was using Audyssey XT32 to calibrate their theaters).   

The fact that neither of us felt any fatigue at 82dBC usually means a decently clean presentation.  The projection side of things had significant errors in color alignment, and the theater promised to look into it.  We'll see if they fixed it when I take my son to see the film.

The theater was hampered by the typical <30Hz subwoofer rolloff, and was only in 5.1, but I heard some definitive high-20Hz content, particularly in the score.

Like others above said, the great 'moments' in the film almost made up for the strange pacing and awkward one-liners, (but with no Han Solo onscreen, SOMEONE had to step up!), and I had more to say about the good points than the bad points of the film on the drive home.

Saw it on opening night.  At least 12 spontaneous applause events, with 3-4 full blown cheers during the film (both a rarity nowadays, IME).  I'm apparently not the only one who thought the 'moments' were good.

Star Wars has often been called a space opera.  Maybe all those strange pacing decisions were the recitatives we had to put up with to get to the arias in the film.....

 

JSS

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Mr Edge,

Thanks for the Blade Runner PvA!  It looks like the rolloff is similar to the 5.1 version on the prior home release.

JSS

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5 hours ago, maxmercy said:

But the sound....I was fortunate.  I had a terrific sounding system at the theater I saw it in.  It was played back at '6' on the Dolby Box, or 82dBC, and it sounded clean, cleaner than anything I have heard in a few years, and not fatiguing or shrill.  Neither my wife nor I EVER reached for the Etymotics we always have on hand when going to the cinema after the hearing damage I am certain I sustained at 'Skyfall' at the local LieMAX (around 3 mos after it was announced LieMAX was using Audyssey XT32 to calibrate their theaters).   

The fact that neither of us felt any fatigue at 82dBC usually means a decently clean presentation.  The projection side of things had significant errors in color alignment, and the theater promised to look into it.  We'll see if they fixed it when I take my son to see the film.

Nice.  Did they let you see their equipment?  I'd bet my cinema was cal-ed to near 82 dBC or maybe a tad lower as well.  It was noticeably lower than I play stuff in my home these days, which is around 80 dBC, albeit with the influence of the much smaller room.  With the thinness and slight 2 kHz push at the cinema though, I'm glad it wasn't played louder.  Did they give you any info on how they did the cal?  Was it X-curve all the way?  Or did they let the low freqs rise a bit?

Assuming the cinema I went to did a by-the-book X-curve cal, I'd guess that the dub-stage was on the dry side and didn't appreciably build-up room energy until below 200 Hz or so.  Or else, they didn't do much EQ above there for other reasons.

I think a lot of newer dub-stage / mix spaces are getting thicker absorption than in the past.  A striking example of this is the "Game of Thrones" TV series.  I believe their studios follow ATSC recommendations and calibrate magnitude-smoothed or power response to a flatish curve, which suppresses the bass compared to an anechoic flat system optimized for music.  To correct for the bass boost that they are likely adding, I use with a low frequency shelf somewhere.  For seasons 1-4, my shelf was centered around 265 Hz or so, IIRC.  Results were a bit inconsistent from episode to episode suggesting that they were either working between multiple rooms or were addressing the low end deficiency in different ways each time.  Then for season 5, they started doing Atmos mixes, which were almost certainly done in a new purpose-built studio with more low frequency absorption.  The 265 Hz shelf sounded all wrong, and I had to move the shelf down to 225 Hz or so to get all the dialog to sound balanced again.

I'm sorry to hear about your terrible LieMAX experience.  I'm going to take a wild guess as to what may have gone wrong.  AFAICT, Audyssey tech fits magnitude-smoothed response to a curve rather than power response, which is used for the X-curve.  I've noticed that magnitude-smoothing, even at high resolution, actually omi a lot of tail-end reverb energy in room measurements.  I believe the error is actually greater for higher frequencies because of the frequency-varying time-localizing effect of the smoothing kernel.  E.g., 1/48th octave at 10 kHz is a lot more time local than 1/48th octave at 500 Hz.  So as a consequence, the high frequencies may appear lower in a magnitude-smoothed measurement than a power response measurement, and XT32 may be boosting them too much.  Even just  a dB or two hot up top is a recipe for some nasty overly bright sound.  You'd think that the people agreeing to license the tech would bother to listen to the result and decide that there's something wrong if it's painfully loud at "normal" playback level.  But that's not how technology works these days.  :P

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Wow....EVERY effect must have 20-30Hz.....quite the impressive 70 to 30Hz slope...

Think it clips?

JSS

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On 1/2/2018 at 4:12 PM, MrEdge said:

 

On 1/2/2018 at 11:07 PM, maxmercy said:

Wow....EVERY effect must have 20-30Hz.....quite the impressive 70 to 30Hz slope...

Think it clips?

JSS

Looks like I've got to pick this one up if nothing else but for the fun factor. Anyone want to take bets on how many of my neighbors will complain to my HOA when I listen to this movie at a decent level? Haha. :D

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Now this HAS to be a new record for 30Hz peak content.  I'm gonna guess it's from the musical 'score' foghorn blasts since there are peaks at roughly every octave.

 

But that is one steep filter at 30Hz.  There's really nothing of substance under 18Hz

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-10dB point is ~15Hz on the Avg. Not great but not that bad. Just looks worse than it is with lots of peak energy in the 30's which is typical.

To be noted, it looks to be (and is) a very dynamic track with very little clipping of which is only in the LFE channel. Also a first rate immersive/surround mix.

 

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On 12/8/2017 at 2:02 PM, Infrasonic said:

 

 

Lol, I have outlived my usefulness on these audio boards. I'm just here to have a good time. :P

Oh, come off it. AVS is a deep dark place without you present to joke around and poke fun of things with me...

On 1/5/2018 at 12:46 PM, Infrasonic said:

-10dB point is ~15Hz on the Avg. Not great but not that bad. Just looks worse than it is with lots of peak energy in the 30's which is typical.

To be noted, it looks to be (and is) a very dynamic track with very little clipping of which is only in the LFE channel. Also a first rate immersive/surround mix.

 

Yes yaassssss, That 16hz still about to tickle the -15. The 30hz at -7.5?!?! That is some serious stuff right there. Im ALL about this when I go to buy it next Tuesday...

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6 hours ago, BeastAudio said:

Oh, come off it. AVS is a deep dark place without you present to joke around and poke fun of things with me...

Yes yaassssss, That 16hz still about to tickle the -15. The 30hz at -7.5?!?! That is some serious stuff right there. Im ALL about this when I go to buy it next Tuesday...

Hey Beast.  Good to see ya again.

I agree it looks like a decent track.  It might get better with BEQ.  Do you have BEQ capability?  So far my favorite bass movies are actually movies that were filtered and then corrected with BEQ.  I just watched GOTG2 With BEQ again, and Wow!  Just tremendous.

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Just remember it may not hard clip much but we've seen more than a few tracks that clip heavily at -.5 dBfs due to overzealous use of a limiter.

 

Not trying to be negative nancy but it's a good thing to remember

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