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maxmercy

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

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I have a possible answer.  I went back and looked at the track data for the ATMOS and DTS tracks.  The ATMOS track has a -26 setting for dialnorm, which means your AVR will reduce the overall volume by 5dB.  I experienced the same thing with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.  The regular edition was DTSHD with no dialnorm applied, the IMAX edition was Dolby TrueHD, with dialnorm applied at -27.  When you changed the level to account for dialnorm, the mixes were much more similar.  

If you listened at your normal level, the IMAX version seemed to lack dynamics.  But in truth, it was just being played back 4dB lower.

My experience with it:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-subwoofers-bass-transducers/755493-master-list-dvd-hd-dvd-blu-ray-movies-bass-thread-waterfalls-123.html#post17394243

keep reading and you'll see echoed many similar sentiments about SM:FFH

Great article on dialnorm:

https://hometheaterhifi.com/volume_7_2/feature-article-dialog-normalization-6-2000.html

JSS

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Here's how they compare with dialnorm accounted for:

1822907436_DTSvsATMOSdialnorm.thumb.png.8f1fba86f1fc98a901179da661d560e4.png

Now that may account for some bad reviews from ppl listening from AVRs.

JSS

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It's like the age-old Information Technology help desk joke (based on a true story), "have you tried turning it off and on again"?  Except for movie soundtracks it's: "have you tried adjusting the volume control to the loudness you want?"  An entire Loudness War has been fought over --- catering to the whims of the volume-control-challenged masses.

Of course it doesn''t help people when the soundtracks aren't the slightest bit consistent in their setting of the dialnorm metadata.  So it's like the worst of both worlds.

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Let's see if I'm understanding this correctly:

1) The first posted graphs of FFH are what the mixes *really* are in relation with each other. The second graphs are what graphs sound like when AVRs apply the DialNorm, which shows the Atmos mix -5db lower than the DTS, and this is what most users are experiencing in their systems.

2) DialNorm values are something that decoders automatically applies and we cannot do something about it and/or we are not even told it's being applied? I've heard, for instance, that the Rampage Atmos mix is less punchier than the DTS-MA. Maybe a DialNorm value is being applied.

3) Since at the end of the day the dynamic range of a soundtrack is not affected by the Dialnorm value, I don't really see the point of it. The posted article says the  Dialnorm value was created to maintain the same dialogue levels between programs that may have different values. In a home environment, what's the point? In the case of FFH, users are going to turn up the volume anyways because they feel it's too low. It's useless.

4) In the referenced article it said the receiver "remembers" what's the dialogue level the user finds comfortable and if the next program/commercial has a different value, it sets it back to such value. If the DialNorm actually worked like that (the user sets the comfortable level for dialogue and the AVR remembers it for the next movie/show), then it could be actually useful. In reality, you have to put up with the DialNorm value used in each movie, or the lack of it. Absolutely no practical use for it, in terms of the end-user.

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1) Yes

2) Some receivers let you know how much correction they are applying as the track first plays.  On my Denon, once the main movie fires up, it will display the bitstream (DolbyTrueHD/ATMOS), and then for a second or two, Dialnorm -4dB.  You can then turn up the film by that amount to have the equivalent presentation.  If you run at the high SPL end of things, turning up the MV by that much can make someone a little nervous if they run at the edge of their system's capabilities.

3) Dialnorm in theory has good uses, especially in TV production.  I have mainly found it annoying, but that is due to my personal experience (and frustration at times) with it.  I just see it for what it is, another bit of metadata DTS and Dolby provided so people could have an option to use it.  Few DTS mixes have dialnorm, but they are out there.

When I examine the audio in a film, I remove dialnorm so I can see clipping more easily when it happens.  Like I said above, I remember playing scenes from Transformers 2 over and over at the same MV level and getting pretty annoyed at the IMAX mix.  I had convinced myself it was a dynamics/compression change, when in fact, it was just a turn of the knob.  4-5dB can make a huge difference in perceived impact at the MLP.  If you have a clean system, play the Star Trek 2009 warp scenes at your cleanest high SPL level, then turn it down by 4-5dB and feel the difference....

I also remove dialnorm when I BEQ a film.  Maybe I need to specify if a mix has dialnorm or not in the BEQ correction so people can set the best MV level.

JSS

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I see.

So, the common "issues" with Atmos mixes reported by users are probably due to a *secret* DialNorm people are not aware it exists. What it's hard to understand is that if the DialNorm value is used, it's because it's the level at what such soundtrack should be played. But you turn up the volume anyways, in most cases.  DialNorm as an "absolute" value doesn't makes sense, because it should be always relative to another soundtrack. But soundtracks are mixed in all kinds of shapes and forms, Dialnorm makes even less sense.

Like you said, maybe it could be useful when you do a graph or post a Beq to note if a track has a DialNorm value or not. I suspect most people are not even aware it exists. I thought all the DialNorm mess belonged to old Dolby Digital mixes.

Thanks for all the info, Max.

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Ideally dialnorm assures similar dialog loudness at the same master volume, regardless of the dynamics or crest factor of the particular mix.  The way it's supposed to work is that the final soundtrack is measured for loudness (which takes into account spectral balance factors, to an extent) using a standardized method, for example LKFS.  Then the dial-norm offset is set based on where the loudness falls vs. a reference value, which I believe is -31 LKFS.  So soundtracks with -31 LKFS, -27 LKFS, and -24 LKFS, should respectively have dialnorm offsets of 0 dB, -4 dB, and -7 dB, and they should all sound about as loud when played at the same master volume, even though the latter example of -24 LKFS is probably a lot less dynamic than the first.

Of course all this assumes consistency between different titles in the loudness measurement method and setting of the metadata on the soundtracks, which still doesn't happen.  In the old days of DVDs, the DD tracks on them very often had a "-4 dB" offset, and I believe this was because that was the default value.  (Some titles still came with other values.)  For BD, a lot of tracks are DTS-HD, and those encoders probably default to a "0" offset.  The Dolby TrueHD tracks are more likely to use a non-zero offset, but I believe this is less consistent than it was for DVD DD tracks.

So the consequence of inconsistent use of the dialnorm offset parameter actually has the opposite of the intended consequence.

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Godzilla: King of the Monsters - Dolby ATMOS (7.1 channel bed)

GKOTM.thumb.jpg.450281a25054bea1ad38261581461765.jpg

Level - 5 Stars (112.7dB composite)

Extension - 3 Stars (19Hz)

Dynamics - 3 Stars (24dB)

Execution - TBD

Overall - TBD

Notes - Loud, but not deep.  Very much like Pacific Rim in the rolloff slope.  BEQ for this film in the BEQ thread.

JSS

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I'm sure that rings like crazy!  And it's got only "3 Stars" dynamics to boot.  I haven't seen that movie yet though.  I think a lot of people have floor or wall resonances around 25 Hz, and so a track like that is likely to shake things like crazy, especially on vented subs with a similar tune.

I've been mostly slacking a bit on movie watching lately, but I did watch "MI4:Ghost Protocol" tonight (for the first time) and thought the bass and overall sound design was very solid.  I wish more movies had bass like that.

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