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

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What say you about Black Panther? Many over @ AVS are extremely down on the mix, similarly to The Last Jedi.  However, views here differed greatly on the Last Jedi and so I'm curious to what views on Black Panther are here.

Respect,

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I'll look at it.  I enjoyed the film, but wasn't really impressed by the LF, much like Thor:Ragnarok.

JSS

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Well this story sure is a mixed bag:

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[...] it’s a real shame that many fans who try to watch their favorite Marvel and Disney-produced Star Wars films at home are finding their experiences being spoiled by some bizarre sound quality problems.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnarcher/2018/07/09/hey-disney-stop-getting-your-star-wars-and-marvel-soundtracks-wrong/

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The issues are two fold. First, when Disney provides a Dolby Atmos or DTS HD Master Audio mix with one of its films on Blu-ray or 4K Blu-ray, it pretty much invariably sounds much quieter than the similar mixes provided by other studios on their films.

For instance, with my own Dolby Atmos/DTS:X systems, I routinely have to turn the volume up to around 20% above my usual reference level when watching Disney titles. Countless other users have reported having to do the same thing.

Oh how terrible!  One has to actually adjust the master volume.

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Second and worse, even if you crank the sound up high, Disney’s digital sound mixes still more often than not sound weirdly compressed. Bass extensions are limited, the mid-range sounds cramped and muffled, and the rear and (in the case of Atmos) height channels that are such a key part of the latest audio experiences seem muted and low on detail.

No doubt Disney has put out some pretty lackluster mixes lately, particularly with regard to surround/Atmos usage.  Though, excepting the odd one or two with major issues (Thor:Ragnorok Atmos mix / SW:TFA limiter) I don't know if I would call them "weirdly compressed" or complain about "cramped and muffled" mid-range.  And bass extension?  Sure most releases are filtered, but the same is true for other studios.  And the same was true before this:

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The problems seem to have started with the 7.1-channel DTS track on the Blu-ray of Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Certainly this seems to be the first track that caused a wide outcry about its lack of consistent bass, its weedy score and its generally muffled, flat, undynamic sound.

Undynamic, really?  True, Avengers AOU wasn't exactly an award winning mix, but it also wasn't full of nasty clipping like so many others before it.  I and others thought it had plenty of dynamics after compensating for the lack of loudness using the Master Volume.  Either way, it seems like the author's motivated to complain primarily because of the lack of loudness.

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Also, I’d argue that while Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 does at least have some genuine low frequency information in its Dolby Atmos soundtrack and doesn’t feature the usual ‘too quiet’ Disney mix, it still sounds a little muffled when there’s a lot of bass to handle. The rears seem fractionally short of detail and refinement, too.

Umm.  Last I checked the bass on GOTG2 is just as filtered as the others, and while the track is slightly louder than the overall average for Disney (at the cost of some dynamic range of course), we're talking about maybe 2-3 dB difference?

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To be absolutely clear here, I and other AV fans aren’t saying that Disney just isn’t very good at doing sound mixes. In fact, the mixes for many of the films that sound strange on home video formats sounded great in movie theaters. It’s just that there seems to be some actual technical problem with Disney’s sound mixes when they arrive on home video.

Not according to recent comments by @Infrasonic.  I don't visit the cinema that often, but I would concur.  In fact if a soundtrack, pretty much any movie soundtrack, sounds better in the cinema than at home, then I would argue that the home playback system is not suited for making these kinds of judgments.

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I can only speculate on what this problem might be. The best suggestion I’ve heard from someone who works on the production side of the film industry is that Disney is using ‘multimedia’ mixes (designed with limited dynamics that suit audio-challenged devices such as mobile phones, tablets and PCs) for all of its home video formats - even premium home cinema ones such as Blu-rays and 4K Blu-rays.

Ahah!  They are mixing for TVs and phones.  Except, not really.  While I'm sure that Disney and others are mixing with an eye toward smaller devices, the low level of the content in the mixes has nothing to do with achieving that goal.  The problem with limited output playback devices is that they have limited maximum gain, and their users find they can't turn up their master volume enough to hear the dialog clearly.  So all else the same, such users are better off with mixes in which the content is *louder not quieter*.

In fact standard loudness recommendations for streamed content of -16 to -20 LUFS are *much* louder than the typical loudness of cinema content, which comes in roughly between -27 to -31 LUFS but varies more because there are no hard standards.  (Disney's UHD/BD/DVD releases probably come in very close to those numbers.)  Also note that most streaming involves only 2 channels, so 7.1 soundtracks (including home Atmos) effectively have another ~11 dB headroom or ~14 dB if the LFE channel is counted.

So the complaints about lack of dynamics and lack of bass are just silly.  Indeed, even excluding the TV/laptop/phone viewers that don't own a "home theater" system, probably fewer than 0.1% of viewers have systems that are capable of playing these soundtracks with good sound quality (i.e., properly sloped in-room response curve) and at the reference level used in the studio (e.g. 79-82 dBC for a small room) without overloading.

But never fear!  Linked to the article is a Change.org petition:

https://www.change.org/p/walt-disney-improve-audio-dynamic-eq-lfe-bass-levels-in-disney-home-video-releases

Dear Disney: please fix the dynamic eq lfe bass levels.  Or something.

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Take a recent Disney/Lucasfilm/Marvel Studios film on a home video format. Start it up, and get to a really heavy action sequence (or better yet, go to the Holdo Maneuver scene in Star Wars: The Last Jedi). Do you remember in theaters how loud that scene was and how packed with bass and rumble?

Umm, yeah, I think there was some bass there.  And yeah, the cinema sub sound quality was above average overall FWIW.

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Well [...] if you have a decent subwoofer or speakers that can hit some of the lower frequencies in films, well wait, you can't really hear or feel any bass or rumble, and if you do it sounds flat and compressed.

Compared to the cinema?  No way!  The cinema sounded like a faint murmur compared to the slam and roar experienced at my home.  (OK, the BEQ probably helped some, but still!)  And that was on the DTS-HD vs. Atmos track, which was apparently even more dynamic.  Of course, I only have 5.1 instead of full Atmos, so maybe that's my problem.  ;)

Anyway, I think Disney deserves some criticism for some of its recent mixes for sure, but it's mostly not technical stuff as far as I can tell.  By my judgment, dynamics, tonal balance, and bass levels and extension are fine compared to the stuff that comes out of other studios.  Rather, it just seems like overall production quality has diminished a bit, especially in the last year or two.  The weird dynamics issue on Thor:Ragnorok (Atmos) was probably not intentional; it was just sloppy.  It's less clear that this was the case for the -3 dBFS limiter on SW:TFA, but these are one off things.  More notable is the lackluster sound design and unimaginative surround usage in a lot of recent films.  Why, it's almost as if the crews are experiencing franchise fatigue or something.  Though more likely it has to do with excessive cost cutting and tighter production schedules.

Either way, it would help if Disney took criticism for the stuff that actually justifies it.  Lack of loudness is not one of those things.  We can only hope that Disney is *not* listening.

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^^^
May I ask what is your view of the Black Panther mix? Many of the same concerns from the quotes that you responded to have even more critical views on that title.

Respects,

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I haven't watched "Black Panther" yet, so no comment.

On the subject of loudness vs. MV, I have noticed more soundtracks recently with the dialnorm offset set to something other than 0.  A non-zero dialnorm offset causes the AVR/processor to attenuate the soundtrack uniformly when playing it back.  The attenuation can be counteracted by turning the MV up, but most people just set the MV at their preferred level anyway.

As for why dialnorm offset is used, the intent behind dialnorm was to ensure that different content with different dynamic ranges always played back at a similar loudness.  The problem is that, dialnorm rarely gets set correctly, even though it's been around for many years.   Most people have no idea when it is active.  For example, almost all AC3 tracks on DVDs used the default value of "-4", which attenuates playback by 4 dB.  OTOH, the DTS mixes that shipped on a few DVDs often specified "0", meaning they played 4 dB louder than the DD track.  Later when BDs came out, most tracks were being authored with "0", so lots of people probably got fooled into thinking the BD tracks were "more dynamic" when instead they just played louder.  Truth be told, there's little difference in sound between a DVD AC3 track and a DTS-HD track unless the latter is 7.1 instead of 5.1.

Anyway, as I said, it appears that Disney is starting to actually set it to meaningful values.  I think the idea is to move toward mastering home releases with consistent track-to-track loudness after dialnorm, where the loudness is measured in LUFS.  As far as I know, there are no positive dialnorm offsets, so the most dynamic one can go is offset "0" which I believe is standardized to -31 LUFS.  I think a typical home theater release would be at like -27 LUFS, which is about 3 or 4 dB more dynamic than a standard TV mix at -23 LUFS or -24 LUFS, depending on where you live.  I believe movie trailers shown in the cinema are standardized to -21 LUFS.  As I mentioned above, -16 to -20 LUFS is recommended for Internet content that's likely to be played on speakers on portable devices.

IIRC, both "Thor:Ragnorok" and "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" DTS-HD tracks had dialnorm "-2".  So if the mixers are setting it correctly, it means the tracks are up at -29 LUFS.  That's pretty good.  Some of the Atmos tracks may be even better.

Edited by SME
clean up extra spaces from forum glitch

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It's painfully obvious, especially after all this time and with a strong consensus in the community.... that there is not a technical limitation in play but rather a creative one. These start out as crummy mixes outright and they stay that way all the way to home video. So at least they are consistent.... consistently average at best.

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Ready Player One - Dolby ATMOS (7.1 bed measured)

Level - 5 Stars (112.67dB composite) <=NOTE that this is with dialnorm REMOVED=>

Extension - 3 Stars (16Hz)

Dynamics - 5 Stars (29.53dB

Execution - TBD

Notes - Clipped but decent soundtrack to accompany terrific visuals.  I still do not have overheads, but my surrounds are mounted high and some overhead effects were experienced.  Possible BEQ for this one.

JSS

RP1.jpg

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Alien - Covenant: Anyone measured this? Could not find any graph.

Just watched it, sounded quite good to me, did not feel like much was missing in the low end. In my opinion, it does not need BEQ.

Sound aside, it is note a very optimistic film. Would not recommend it as a good way to pass time while on your first journey to March. If you do, since such a trip takes quite some time, you can watch the whole Alien series, then top it off with Prometheus and Covenant.

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On ‎8‎/‎23‎/‎2018 at 8:11 PM, Kvalsvoll said:

Alien - Covenant: Anyone measured this? Could not find any graph.

Just watched it, sounded quite good to me, did not feel like much was missing in the low end. In my opinion, it does not need BEQ.

Sound aside, it is note a very optimistic film. Would not recommend it as a good way to pass time while on your first journey to March. If you do, since such a trip takes quite some time, you can watch the whole Alien series, then top it off with Prometheus and Covenant.

There was a graph. Must have disappeared with the rest.

I remember it graphed (and sounded/felt) well on my system. Thought the sound was pretty terrific actually. Nobody seems to like this movie though. I liked it well enough. Just wasn't the Prometheus sequel everyone wanted and expected. 

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8 hours ago, Infrasonic said:

There was a graph. Must have disappeared with the rest.

I remember it graphed (and sounded/felt) well on my system. Thought the sound was pretty terrific actually. Nobody seems to like this movie though. I liked it well enough. Just wasn't the Prometheus sequel everyone wanted and expected. 

I agree about both the sound and the movie.

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On 6/22/2018 at 8:57 AM, minnjd said:

I finally got around to watching my Blu-Ray of Blade Runner 2049.

Like in the theater, lots of bass.  Most of it hovered above 30Hz but it was definitely weighty and sounded pretty good.

But I did run across an acronym that is really appropriate for this movie (plus Interstellar and TDKR):

ZIHL, or 'Zimmer Induced Hearing Loss'. 

 

Good lord was the music fucking loud.  And not for short amounts of time either.  One sustained synth tone had to be red lining in multiple channels and it went on, continuously, for over ten seconds.  There was no modulation, no variation, just "BWAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH"

Something's wrong with your mixing when I have to lower my volume for that but can keep it constant through gunshots, spinner crashes and explosions.

I just watched "Blade Runner: 2049" tonight.  The movie dialog seemed a bit louder (2 dB?) than average, so early on, I turned it down to "-8" instead of the typical "-5 to -6".  No adjustments were made for the music vs. effects.  This one definitely could have used a bit more mid-range, like many cinema tracks.  The bass was just off the charts LOUD,  like sustained square waves from 16 Hz up.  The chest throbbing on the low notes was intense.  Unfortunately, the house noises were also rather severe.

I will say that while I appreciate the score's tribute to the original, the original Vangelis score was *way* better.  This movie was also quite good, but not as good as the original.  Indeed, even though the surround and Atmos effects were nice, I think the soundtrack of the original (albeit "Final Cut" remix) was better and more immersive.

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Regarding Disney's recent HT mixes, I can only second what others are saying about them : they are disappointing, and no, it's not just a question of loudness or master volume.

What's interesting is to compare how it pored through video releases : the Forbes article has the starting point wrong : AOU was already problematic on BD. It was under-cranked, but also flatter than expected and with empty bass (I suppose the track doesn't go particularly low in frequencies).

Its unfortunate the article is imprecise regarding this (though I guess that can only be expected from a non-technical publication like Forbes), but having now listened to many of the recent Buena Vista BDs, they do feel disappointing outside from the master volume being too low. They certainly aren't all the same, and some sounded better than others, but AOU, Black Panther, Last Jedi, Thor Ragnarok, GoG 2, but also things like Coco.

Infinity War sounds a bit better and mostly is slighlty under-cranked, but even once the MV is increased, it still feels less impactful that one would expect.

I can't say if it's a creative issue more than a technical limitation. But what I do know is that something definitely changed in the way these tracks are mixed, and despite whatever people might say (especially regarding how other studios have clipped or filtered tracks, as if it explains why the BV tracks are picked up but not the other ones, or as if it would somehow makes it better to know that), it's telling to see in the first post of this very thread the scores obtained by earlier MCU discs (Winter Soldier, Incredible Hulk, Thor 2) and then look at the scores for more recent movies.

I don't know what Disney changed, but clearly, if they didn't change anything, we wouldn't have this discussion. If they changed it in a way that didn't feel this obviously debatable, we wouldn't have it either.

So if Disney wants to simply go back to whatever they were doing 6 years ago, I'm all for it, and I DO hope they listen to the complaints to just go back and do that.

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On 9/14/2018 at 2:33 AM, tenia said:

I don't know what Disney changed, but clearly, if they didn't change anything, we wouldn't have this discussion. If they changed it in a way that didn't feel this obviously debatable, we wouldn't have it either.

I don't have confirmation of this, but I believe that many Disney and Skywalker Sound mixes in general have more mid-range and less bass than typical cinema content.  I believe this is actually a good thing, even though it may reduce apparent loudness and/or dynamics compared to most other mixes.  These mixes are likely to sound better on the vast majority of audio system out there including systems optimized for music playback.  However, the response of different home systems varies a lot, and the variance is not necessarily any better for "full blown home theaters" vs. TVs and hand-held devices.  For example, a lot of auto-EQ calibrate to targets that are bass deficient, IMO.

If the Disney/Skywalker Sound movies sound whimpy, even after adjusting the master volume up, it may be in part because the playback system is calibrated to a bass deficient target.  Cinemas are also bass deficient because the lower part of the X-curve is flat, whereas a natural in-room response from an anechoic flat speaker typically rises toward the bass in the bottom.  Cinemas are also treble deficient because of the steep -3 dB/octave roll-off in the upper part X-curve vs. between 0 and 1 dB/octave with an anechoic flat speaker.

I personally find most of the Disney/Skywalker soundtracks to be quite satisfying on my system, which has a substantial "house curve", consistent with a flat anechoic response.  I do wish the tracks were more consistent though.  Even though most of the Disney/Skywalker stuff has better balance between bass, mids, and treble than typical cinema tracks, the balance within each region is often weird.  A lot of this probably reflects the limits of existing calibration technology, which is an area I'd like to see improvement.  While most rooms exhibit fairly similar in-room response characteristics when using anechoic flat speakers, the differences are enough that calibrating to the same in-room target in different rooms won't lead to consistent sound.

In the long run, it would be good to see the X-curve standard for cinema and dub stages go away to be replaced by a truly accurate calibration standard.  This would likely eliminate one of the biggest differences between cinemas and home systems.  Better yet, with all the production done on accurate systems, much less EQ would be applied to the mixes overall leading to a much better result overall on *all* systems *including cinemas*, where sound is often the worst.  Indeed experiments suggest that cinemas sound better with anechoic flat speakers than with the X-curve calibration, *even when playing cinema content* mixed in X-curve calibrated dub stages.  Yeah, really!

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So I watched "Black Panther" finally.  I played the BD 7.1 at "-1" (!), and my Denon did not indicate any dialnorm compensation was applied.

I have to agree that this soundtrack has serious deficiencies caused by excessive and/or mis-configured dynamics processing.  It was bad.  It seemed worse than the dynamics of old analog TV.  Not only were macro-dynamics largely eliminated but the compressor attack seemed to act immediately and aggressively on transiently loud sounds such as gun shots.  IMO, the consequences were wide and substantially degrading to the viewing experience.  The experience was passive and uninvolving.  The on-screen action and actors seemed trivial and insignificant. 

It wasn't just special effects that were harm but also the score, dialog, ambiance, etc.  The scoring involving live acoustic instruments (vs. the pop / hip-hop style music) sounded completely unnatural and irritating to listen to because of the pumping effects.  In one scene, dialog alternated between a few key characters and a large crowd, both of which were rendered equally loud but of course this made the crowd sound very whimpy, and the aggressive compression really muddied their voices together.  It really broke the immersion.  The acting seemed quite forced throughout the movie, but I could also tell that the dialog completely lacked the dynamics which may play a big part in conveying passion and emotion.

The weird thing is that even if this aggressive compression was done on purpose, perhaps to optimize for hand-held devices in high noise environments, the level of the track was extremely low.  I basically had to turn things up to cinema reference level to get sound that still wasn't that loud.  That's a huge amount of gain as far as hand-helds go.  On most if not all such devices, this track would be difficult to hear even with the volume at max. 

Oddly enough though, it had some decent bass in a few places, particularly in some of the quieter scenes where there wasn't as much mid/high frequency content to compete against.  The tonal balance was actually quite nice, and I experienced a surprising amount of ULF with rather strong tactile effect.  A lot of ULF just makes the windows rattle and maybe shakes the floor a bit, but this was felt quite strongly in the chest area.  I believe the presence of higher harmonic frequencies with good balance all the way up essential for this sensation.  The ULF itself makes the least contribution to the sensation but helps fill it out and make it more real and present.  It's just too bad that the good bass was totally missing from a lot of transient effects.

Anyway, I have a hard time believing that the problems with this soundtrack were intentional.  It's certainly possible that people misjudged the quality of the track because they were too tired or something.  Or maybe people were just rushed.  Maybe mistakes were made that were to difficult to correct.  Still, this is bad enough that I think it'd be reasonable to ask for a correction and recall.  I didn't buy this film, and have no interest in doing so after what I experienced.

Still, I hope this isn't an example of Disney's future.  I thought some of the Pixar films like "Coco", "Inside Out", and "Finding Dory" were fine as far as dynamics were concerned.  They might have been pulled back a bit compared to typical cinema tracks, but I kind of expect that with kids movies.  And anyway they still were *way more dynamic* than "Black Panther".

Edit: Just to clarify with my opinions regard to discussion in some of the recent posts:  I thought "Black Panther" and "The Last Jedi" were kind of at opposite ends of sound quality and performance.  TLJ had very nice dynamics, it just needs high master volume to get things nice and loud.  BP is about the same average loudness as TLJ was (7.1 at least) but had practically no dynamics at all, for which there's no real cure.  BP really looks like a QC error as does the Thor:Ragnorok Atmos track which apparent has severe compression but only for the first half.  I hope it's just these two, but I guess I'll find out how Avengers 3 is.

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Other movies watched recent:

"Ghost in the Shell":  I liked it a lot, and it had some cool mid-bass glitch effects and a very interesting score.  The bass was OK otherwise, filtered in the 20s but not too aggressively. 

"Jumnaji":  Worst bass I've heard in a while.  It had some ULF, but it had a severe 30 Hz hump and almost no mid-bass.  It was loud and boomy and had absolutely no punch or clarity and almost no tactile at all.  For all the attention given to ULF, I think good mid-bass is more important.  Without enough mid-bass in the track, the low stuff just sounds terrible.

(Edit) "Ready: Player One" with BEQ: Bass movie of the year for me.  Possibly my new favorite bass movie ever.  Excellent full-bandwidth sound design.  Very tactile throughout.  You are *there*.

I kind of miss the discussion here where we gave our subjective impressions of these tracks.  Maybe all of that happens at AVSForum these days?

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I found TLJ quite underwhelming even with the volume turned up and with BEQ on though perhaps my impression is coloured by my impression of the film (which I also found pretty underwhelming). FWIW I posted the per channel pva for that on avs - https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-subwoofers-bass-transducers/2995212-bass-eq-filtered-movies.html#post57055584 - as I was curious about the relative merits of the two BEQ approaches (pre and post). It seems to be a really heavily filtered track, almost looks like they baked bass management into the track itself.

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On 11/11/2018 at 8:35 AM, SME said:

So I watched "Black Panther" finally.  I played the BD 7.1 at "-1" (!), and my Denon did not indicate any dialnorm compensation was applied.

I have to agree that this soundtrack has serious deficiencies caused by excessive and/or mis-configured dynamics processing.  It was bad.  It seemed worse than the dynamics of old analog TV.  Not only were macro-dynamics largely eliminated but the compressor attack seemed to act immediately and aggressively on transiently loud sounds such as gun shots.  IMO, the consequences were wide and substantially degrading to the viewing experience.  The experience was passive and uninvolving.  The on-screen action and actors seemed trivial and insignificant. 

It wasn't just special effects that were harm but also the score, dialog, ambiance, etc.  The scoring involving live acoustic instruments (vs. the pop / hip-hop style music) sounded completely unnatural and irritating to listen to because of the pumping effects.  In one scene, dialog alternated between a few key characters and a large crowd, both of which were rendered equally loud but of course this made the crowd sound very whimpy, and the aggressive compression really muddied their voices together.  It really broke the immersion.  The acting seemed quite forced throughout the movie, but I could also tell that the dialog completely lacked the dynamics which may play a big part in conveying passion and emotion.

The weird thing is that even if this aggressive compression was done on purpose, perhaps to optimize for hand-held devices in high noise environments, the level of the track was extremely low.  I basically had to turn things up to cinema reference level to get sound that still wasn't that loud.  That's a huge amount of gain as far as hand-helds go.  On most if not all such devices, this track would be difficult to hear even with the volume at max. 

Oddly enough though, it had some decent bass in a few places, particularly in some of the quieter scenes where there wasn't as much mid/high frequency content to compete against.  The tonal balance was actually quite nice, and I experienced a surprising amount of ULF with rather strong tactile effect.  A lot of ULF just makes the windows rattle and maybe shakes the floor a bit, but this was felt quite strongly in the chest area.  I believe the presence of higher harmonic frequencies with good balance all the way up essential for this sensation.  The ULF itself makes the least contribution to the sensation but helps fill it out and make it more real and present.  It's just too bad that the good bass was totally missing from a lot of transient effects.

Anyway, I have a hard time believing that the problems with this soundtrack were intentional.  It's certainly possible that people misjudged the quality of the track because they were too tired or something.  Or maybe people were just rushed.  Maybe mistakes were made that were to difficult to correct.  Still, this is bad enough that I think it'd be reasonable to ask for a correction and recall.  I didn't buy this film, and have no interest in doing so after what I experienced.

Still, I hope this isn't an example of Disney's future.  I thought some of the Pixar films like "Coco", "Inside Out", and "Finding Dory" were fine as far as dynamics were concerned.  They might have been pulled back a bit compared to typical cinema tracks, but I kind of expect that with kids movies.  And anyway they still were *way more dynamic* than "Black Panther".

Edit: Just to clarify with my opinions regard to discussion in some of the recent posts:  I thought "Black Panther" and "The Last Jedi" were kind of at opposite ends of sound quality and performance.  TLJ had very nice dynamics, it just needs high master volume to get things nice and loud.  BP is about the same average loudness as TLJ was (7.1 at least) but had practically no dynamics at all, for which there's no real cure.  BP really looks like a QC error as does the Thor:Ragnorok Atmos track which apparent has severe compression but only for the first half.  I hope it's just these two, but I guess I'll find out how Avengers 3 is.

Absolutely agree here, Avengers Infinity War also seemed to be lacking about ten decibels in dynamic range, whilst also having fairly quiet dialogue and being sharply filtered. Disappointing...  

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6 hours ago, 3ll3d00d said:

I found TLJ quite underwhelming even with the volume turned up and with BEQ on though perhaps my impression is coloured by my impression of the film (which I also found pretty underwhelming). FWIW I posted the per channel pva for that on avs - https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-subwoofers-bass-transducers/2995212-bass-eq-filtered-movies.html#post57055584 - as I was curious about the relative merits of the two BEQ approaches (pre and post). It seems to be a really heavily filtered track, almost looks like they baked bass management into the track itself.

FWIW, I liked TLJ as a film a lot more after the second watch.  It's definitely flawed, but what SW film isn't?

Yes!  Because the channel architecture includes the LFE channel for extra bass headroom, any film mixer that wants to use LFE in the mix must effectively use some kind of bass management when creating it.  Microphones and synthesizers don't tend to spit out separate LFE tracks, and I doubt the sound designers deliver content with separate LFE either.  Even if they did, it wouldn't allow optimal budgeting of headroom in the mix, so basically it comes down to the mixer to figure out how to distribute the sub bass between the different channels of the mix.  I'm sure many different strategies are employed including the wacky filtering schemes seen in TLJ and many other movies.  I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the bass that appears to have been filtered from the surrounds was simply re-routed to LFE instead.

This is probably why almost every one of the BEQs developed by @maxmercy uses quite different filters on each channel, and why I believe this approach is usually necessary for good BEQ sound quality.  Even then, it's probably not possible to fix everything.  The bass management on the production side may be applying very different filters to sound that is redirected from each mains channel to LFE.  For example with TLJ, it's possible that the 40-60 Hz part of the LFE channel contains a lot more bass that goes with sounds in the surround channels than screen channels, but below 40 Hz, it's a more even mix of screens and surrounds.  So any adjustments made to LFE could have different effects on the surrounds vs. the mains.

Lastly, we need to remind ourselves that bass management on playback systems has a lot of problems too.  Probably very few systems out there have neutral sounding bass for sounds on all 7.1+ channels of a soundtrack because of sub crossover phase issues.  The more savvy home theater people know to optimize sub delay for best sub crossover response, which makes a *huge* difference, but this is only possible on one channel (i.e. the center channel for movie optimization) or some weighted sum (i.e. left+right for music optimization).  How many people here or anywhere have good response in the sub XO region on their surround and overhead channels?  Yes, those channels do get used for bass, and they get used a lot more now because immersive formats for the cinema specify bass management for the surrounds.

I personally have the capability to optimize bass management completely and separately for each mains channel and for LFE, which is itself optimized to blend best with simultaneous content in the center channel.  IMO, this should be a minimum requirement for a "high performance" home theate, but it's not possible to do this with any standard home theater processors I know of (without spending 6 figures $ at least).  I doubt very many "Atmos at home" production systems have that capability, which means they aren't hearing the bass right on their own soundtracks.  (Sadly, I wouldn't be surprised if many of these don't even have the sub distance optimized for best center channel response.)  At least Atmos in the cinema specifies that surround and overhead channels be bass managed to separate "surround subs" located closer to the back of the room, which probably helps a lot, but Atmos for home is still essentially a 7.1+ format.

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4 hours ago, Joelmister127 said:

Absolutely agree here, Avengers Infinity War also seemed to be lacking about ten decibels in dynamic range, whilst also having fairly quiet dialogue and being sharply filtered. Disappointing...  

I should be able to see that one soon and will give my feedback.  I do hope it's not as bad as "Black Panther", which as I said sounded more compressed than analog TV to me.  BP had a $200 million budget, and given that "sound is half the movie", there is no excuse for this.

At this point, I don't really have a problem with studios pulling dynamics back a bit for home mixes.  The mid-range emphasis that results when a cinema or dub-stage is calibrated to the X-curve target makes the sound smaller and whimpier.  For a long time, I assumed that mixers compensated for the lack of bass and treble using EQ boost, but I was mostly wrong about that.  I say "mostly" because I think some EQ does find its way in to a lot of tracks, but it's much less than would be needed to reverse the effect of the X-curve calibration.  So even after EQ tweaks, the sound in the cinema is still lacking in bass and treble and seems small and whimpy.  The mixers compensate another way: using the faders.  The consequence is a mix with exaggerated macro-dynamics because the mixers are pushing up the levels of the big effects for more pop.

There's a huge difference, however, between pulling dynamics back a bit for a more authentic "cinema-like" experience at home and crushing the mix to the dynamic range of a typical Internet pod cast.  Also, I could be wrong but it sounds like BP just got shoved through an algorithm without any scene-by-scene consideration at all.  I don't have a problem with automation being used as part of the process, but at the least there should be people going through the mix and making tweaks for different scenes.  It took a lot of fader twiddling to get the cinema mix the way it was.  It's ridiculous to assume that a simple algorithm can reverse all of that.

The sad thing about all this is that most consumers don't complain.  The industry thinks that means that it doesn't matter, but it does even if consumer don't complain.  Most consumers don't notice the lack of dynamics.  They don't notice the lack of emotional impact and lack of connection with the actors.  They don't notice that the overall movie experience is less inspiring or that their motivation to purchase media in the future is diminished.  And when the sales start to drop, will the industry recognize that quality matters even when the consumer isn't aware of it?  Or will they just blame the loss of sales on pirates?

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On 11/12/2018 at 9:04 PM, SME said:

FWIW, I liked TLJ as a film a lot more after the second watch.  It's definitely flawed, but what SW film isn't?

I just found it a bit dull compared to TFA or Rogue One, storyline seemed particularly  derivative of earlier films as well so that it felt like a remake at times rather than a new film.

 

On 11/12/2018 at 9:04 PM, SME said:

This is probably why almost every one of the BEQs developed by @maxmercy uses quite different filters on each channel, and why I believe this approach is usually necessary for good BEQ sound quality

in principle I agree, in practice I'm not so sure for a track like this where the surrounds are so much lower in level and even LR is another few dB down on the C. I haven't compared but I would not be surprised if there was a pretty small audible difference between the two approaches in this case.

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On 11/14/2018 at 1:14 AM, 3ll3d00d said:

in principle I agree, in practice I'm not so sure for a track like this where the surrounds are so much lower in level and even LR is another few dB down on the C. I haven't compared but I would not be surprised if there was a pretty small audible difference between the two approaches in this case.

By "levels", are you referring to relative level of each channel in the PvA data?  If so, I disagree with your argument, at least in general.  A lot depends on how the mixers created the LFE channel content.  For TLJ, It could be that that the bass under 60 Hz in the surround channels just gets thrown out rather than being sent to LFE.  If that's the case, then a global BEQ will likely have little to no effect on the surrounds because the ULF boost will be well below the 60 Hz roll-off.  To figure this out, I guess one would have to compare the tracks, looking for some place where an effect with bass plays on the surrounds only and then checking if any of that missing bottom end found its way into LFE.

I'm curious if @maxmercy has any insight here.  How much evidence is there of mixers splitting content between surrounds and LFE using HPF/LPF pairs?  I'd bet there are many different strategies used for managing LFE and that for a great many cases, a separate-channels BEQ will be much better.

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