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minnjd

The great disappointment of 2012

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So usually speaking disaster films bring the audio goods.  They may not go the deepest in the spectrum (San Andreas) but they usually have some really loud and impactful bass.  And then there's this:

 

post-2824-0-56089700-1453780696_thumb.jpg

 

This is what "2012" looks like.  A modern disaster movie with some of the most massive scenes of destruction ever rendered to the screen.  And your mighty subwoofer backs up these visuals by occasionally farting out some quiet noises that might charitably be called bass by the HTIB crowd (and even they might be let down).  What happened to this soundtrack?  How can a movie like this be 'blessed' with a soundtrack that can't muster any real bass energy throughout its entire 2 hour and 38 minute run time?

 

In all other respects the sound mix is excellent: great surround use, good dynamics, and no clipping to be found.  But the low end is beyond pathetic and for the life of me I can't figure out why that is.

 

Other movies might have disappointing bass levels, but I don't think I've ever run across another track that misses the goal post so bad it might as well be playing in a different town.

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I remember seeing this in the theaters and saying to myself, "This isn't going to sound any better at home," and I was right. Pitiful.

If you think that's bad, check out Battleship.

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The Hobbit!

 

Good call - I've only seen some demo clips on a Steinway Lyngdorf system, but I was not impressed with the bass at all.

 

Prometheus is another let down for me - massive space ship, huge crash, lightweight bass that has you feeling like something is completely missing.  Poor show, sound peoples.

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Prometheus was more of an issue with low volume for me.  The movie has bass, but it's intensity is much lower than 'normal' movies of this type.  

 

2012 and the Hobbit, on the other hand, don't appear to have any bass at all.

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Never saw 2012.  No plans to.

 

Battleship gets much better w/ BEQ.

 

The Hobbit was sinful.  No level of BEQ saves the stone giant scene.  Cut off at 40Hz.  No shelf filter, all the ULF (if it even existed) highpassed away...  Freaking LIVING MOUNTAINS are fighting each other and.....40Hz.  They should have brought the Trollhunter sound guys in just for that scene.  That entire trilogy was such a letdown compared to LOTR.  

 

But has anyone re-watched LOTR lately?  Not as amazing and captivating as it was back in the day, and the films are now interminable (not just the special editions).  

 

 

JSS

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The Hobbit never had bass to begin with.  I saw it in an IMAX theater and although the volume was pretty high, there was no bass at all.  And I know the theater had some good subs since I saw Ghost Protocol there and that movie would've vibrated out my fillings if I had any.

 

Yeah, LOTR isn't quite the experience it was back in the day.  The movies are still pretty good, but I think that it's imagery has been so aped by virtually every fantasy movie that's come out in the last fifteen years that it doesn't make the same impact as it used to.

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Has anyone yet done a formal comparison between the DVD and Blu-ray versions of LOTR?  Unfortunately, a disturbing trend I'm seeing is for Blu-ray re-releases to get remixed louder than the DVD originals.

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I haven't seen one yet.  Would be kinda prohibitive to do given all the different versions out there.

 

I think the general consensus is that the initial theatrical cut DVD's have the most dynamic soundtracks that most closely represent the original mixes.  Back in those days home theater mixes did exist, but they seemed to be done with a much more deft hand than the ones these days.

 

The only unofficial comparison I've done is between the theatrical and extended edition DVD's.  For all three movies I thought the theatrical DVD soundtracks has noticeably higher bass levels in many places.  Can't say if they went any deeper though, as I never ran them through Speclab.

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Has anyone yet done a formal comparison between the DVD and Blu-ray versions of LOTR?  Unfortunately, a disturbing trend I'm seeing is for Blu-ray re-releases to get remixed louder than the DVD originals.

 

I did a while back.  I'll have to look it up.  If monitoring levels are turned down for 'home mix' (whatever that means, no standard I know of exists for HT like it does for TV), I can easily see the louder levels happening.

 

JSS

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Extended DVD and Theatrical BD are very similar tracks, the DVD track being a little hotter in Level.  I never measured DVD Theatrical.

 

JSS

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The original dvds were HOT! I was never able to listen to them at the same volume level I could most other movies at the time.

 

I have LOTR on BD but I don't know if I've ever watched them.

 

I remember the Extended editions on dvd to sound "smoother" but they were remixed by MiCasa for home playback and presented in both DD-EX and DTS-ES Discrete 6.1 audio.

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Interesting.  I think I bought the theatrical DVD of FOTR, and then gave it away as soon as the extended edition came out.  I owned the extended editions of all three until I "replaced" them with the BDs.  I may yet regret giving away the DVDs.  Sadly, it's very hard to figure out what's going on with most mixes.  I'm still in shock after doing my A/B with DVD versus BD of "Spirited Away".  It makes me wish I could return the BD.  My wife and I preferred the video on the DVD, despite the lower resolution.  Seriously, this kind of thing should be cause for protest and even legal action on the part of the other artists who worked on the track.

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Problem is the studios ultimately own the rights and they can do whatever they want to the content, sound included.

 

Most soundtracks undergo a modification or outright remix every time a new video incarnation comes out.  LOTR seems to get remixed every single time, so there's at least four different soundtracks out there for each film (theatrical and extended DVD, theatrical and extended Bluray).  I never owned the theatrical Blurays, so I can't comment on those, but I've had the other three and I agree that the theatrical DVD's were the 'hottest' soundtracks, and in retrospect probably the closest to the original theatrical mixes as back in 2001-2003 they didn't seem anywhere near as aggressive in modifying soundtracks for home video.

 

One of these days I'll toss up a comparison for the Bluray of Blade II.  It has both a 5.1 and 7.1 track and there are some notable differences between them (especially under 20Hz).  Not sure of the vintage of the 5.1 track or if it's EX encoded (as the original theatrical release was) but the 7.1 track is likely a mix specifically created for the BluRay.

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If anybody's wondering, here are the official "2012" numbers (will also be posted in the main content thread)

 

Level: 109.24 dB

Dynamics: 27.17 dB
Extension: 26Hz
 
Lameness all around.

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Yeah, that is pretty lame. The lameness of the "science" behind the story is far stronger.

 

Yeah, I did watch it. All of it. As a geologist, I can tell you that the "wrong" is strong with this one. 

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