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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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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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I actually stole that from HD Digest, I haven’t seen the movie 😬

 

I did see Rise of Skywalker though. Pretty good soundtrack (once again it had nice use of bass for the Force events), although there was one part where either the theater sound system overloaded or the track itself has massive, farty distortion.

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8 hours ago, minnjd said:

I actually stole that from HD Digest, I haven’t seen the movie 😬

 

I did see Rise of Skywalker though. Pretty good soundtrack (once again it had nice use of bass for the Force events), although there was one part where either the theater sound system overloaded or the track itself has massive, farty distortion.

I'd say it's 95% likely the  cinema.

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On 12/24/2019 at 4:22 AM, timcat4843 said:

maxmercy-Please list your top 10 movies on Blu-ray for 2019 with the deepest and most powerful bass.

I have not seen that many films this year, lots of reasons why; I have not had the chance to measure that many either.  So far, the PvA for Ad Astra above looks pretty good, but I have to see it. 

This year I mainly did some BEQ for the films I did buy and see on BluRay, like Avengers:Endgame, Godzilla and Bumblebee, and really looked into the LOTR trilogy as we are nearing the 20th anniversary time on it.  It is one of the film trilogies that did not get a decrease in LF from DVD to BluRay, which was very nice.

JSS

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The graph posted above for Ad Astra looks very different to the one posted on AVS forum . I've watched the movie at home, and the levels for the AVS graph look more realistic, the other graph makes it look like the bass would be brutally loud  (unless I'm misreading the graph from HD Digest??) Just by looking that graph, it should be up there with Flight of The Phoenix bass-wise  (it isn't)

AVS forum Ad Astra graph

81m8F4v.png

 

 

HD Digest Ad Astra Graph

sQVrgkq.jpg

 

 

Data-bass FOTP graph

gQIzChk.png

 

 

 

????

 

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The short answer is that different windows were likely used for each piece before averaging.  There is no universal PvA.  Different windows types and sizes change the emphasis of certain aspects of response.

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Interesting....they are quite different, windows could account for it, but the level differences are what I see as most prominent.  I wonder if the DTS-HDMA and ATMOS tracks have different dialnorm settings, or something else.

JSS

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19 hours ago, maxmercy said:

Interesting....they are quite different, windows could account for it, but the level differences are what I see as most prominent.  I wonder if the DTS-HDMA and ATMOS tracks have different dialnorm settings, or something else.

JSS

Yeah like I said, I've heard both the DTSHD and Atmos tracks and there's no part in the movie where I think the LFE would have been up above the -5dB section on the graph. I mean in FOTP - that level at 32Hz is friggin scary in my house, there was no part in Ad Astra where I was worried about popping a window out of it's tracks like I do during the barrel roll in FOTP lol

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Occasionally when watching movies with heavy ULF during the day time (often for critical evaluation), I notice motion in the corner of my eye coming from the flexing of the large, nearly floor-to-ceiling living room windows on my left wall.

Yeah, the Hi Def Digest graph looks like it's probably "wrong", at least in terms of level normalization.  Just comparing the peak levels between the two at 30 Hz, they are too far apart for lack of dialnorm compensation to be the only fault.

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