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


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On a semi related note, has anyone seen the Great Wall previews with Matt Damon? Almost seems like a missing spoof trailer from the beginning of Tropic Thunder or he lost a bet with some friends and has to do a terrible movie as a dare. IDK maybe it'll be great but the previews left me scratching my head like WTF is that?


That's exactly where I am. I have no idea where they're going with this one.

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So here's another request I finally got around to banging out:


The Chronicles of Riddick-Universal




Sound Designers:Scott Martin Gershin, Peter Zinda, Jon Title, Bryan Bowen, Ann Scibelli

Re-Recording Mixers:Chris Jenkins, Frank Montano, Rick Kline


First off some background: The Blu-Ray contains the theatrical and extended cuts of the movie. While I had been watching the extended version for a few years on DVD, I decided to try out the theatrical cut just to see how it flowed. Right away I noticed something odd: the bass was noticeably louder in the theatrical cut, and the overall dynamics of the track seemed wider too. So I ran both through the ringer:


Theatrical Cut:


Level: 3 Stars (108.55 dB composite)

Extension: 3 Stars (16Hz)

Dynamics: 5 Stars (28.3dB)


Extended Cut:


Level: 2 Stars (107.42 dB composite)

Extension: 3 Stars (16Hz)

Dynamics: 5 Stars (29.51dB)


The numbers don't lie: the theatrical version is definitely louder overall, and especially in the low end.  It may not seem like much on paper until you look at the graphs:








There's a bit more in the 30-40Hz region in the theatrical cut, and it's noticeable.  While both sound pretty decent (although neither get all that low due to an HPF at 30Hz), the theatrical cut is definitely more punchy than the extended one.


Unfortunately that punch also comes with a bit more clipping.  While both tracks clip on occasion in everything but the LFE, the theatrical cut does it more often.  None of the clipping is particularly bad or frequent (4 samples is the longest I found), but it is hard clipping at 0dBfs, so it may sound ugly on some systems.


Still, this is a pretty decent soundtrack (in both incarnations) that has some really interesting sound design work for the ships and weapons.  I love the sound of the Necromonger guns, which start out with a high pitched, almost musical initial sound followed by a distinct low frequency 'whomp'.  For a 2004 film it is a bit behind the curve in terms of extension (this was less than a year before WOTW), but it still has some decent booms in a few places.  I will say though that the dialog on the theatrical cut is unusually low in volume, and compensating for that made the bigger scenes fairly loud.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the used the original theatrical mix for that cut and didn't modify it at all (given that it has the type of volume extremes that I've only heard at a good theater), whereas the extended cut was mixed for a home environment.

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Measured the new Jack Reacher, as Tom Cruise has put out many bass-heavy movies recently.....doesn't measure so well, LFE channel tops out at -7dB, Surrounds at -5dB, LCR use all available headroom, but do not clip....at all.


I'll post up measurements after I watch the film.


Scott, you're right, this IS Data-Bass, but after watching the shark-jumping Frankenstein's Army (and subsequently not digesting my previous meal), Infrasonic extension  is not the only important thing in a film soundtrack.




When will you chart Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk and Hacksaw Ridge?

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Had a nice friday night with Deepwater Horizon. Certainly a bass monster with what felt like decent ~20hz activity. Had no issues with it, really.


And the movie was pretty good, at least the first two thirds. The build-up is ominous and unnerving and when it blows, it blows big. Powers like these are sure not to be messed with.

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  • 2 weeks later...

John Wick (7.1 TrueHD)


Level        - 3 Stars (109.38dB composite)

Extension - 5 Stars (1Hz)

Dynamics - 5 Stars (28.5dB)

Execution - 4 Stars (by poll)


Overall     - 4.25 Stars


Recommendation - Buy (by poll)


Notes:  Very solid bass.  Nothing demo worthy, but just generally good.  Movie was OK.  Loved the scenes in the hotel and nightclub.






Fiiiiinally watched this - at a friend's house, on a boom-tastic soundbar+ported sub combo.


Sounded pretty good even on that - will pick up the BD and watch it on my system :)


The fight scenes were ace!

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Is there any proof that SPR was filtered on Bluray? I don't recall anything. The movie was made in 1998 and ULF was pretty much non existent at that point. The DTS DVD doesn't count as that was a special home mix created by DTS itself, so it may have been enhanced compared to the original theatrical mix.

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Who knows for sure but back when DTS DVD's first started coming out DTS would create the soundtrack themselves and they were known for modifying the tracks to make them sound 'better' than Dolby releases.  Once they finally made their encoders available to outside encoding facilities that trend pretty much stopped.


But I think the SPR DTS DVD was created when they were still doing their own soundtracks.

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 the DTS track here reveals itself to be more aggressive than it's Dolby counterpart: LFE in the many battle scenes has more extension, with the effect of it feeling “punchier”, extending those couple of extra hertz lower.


Not sure about the veracity of this source but it seems to indicate that the track is less filtered. It's got to be better than the crap 22hz extension on the BD!

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Maybe.  It helps to put things in perspective though......


ULF didn't really start showing up until The Phantom Menace in 1999.  Prior to that it was rare to see anything of substance under 30Hz, let alone 20Hz.  Then it took a few more years after that before the real heavy hitters started coming out.  Saving Private Ryan was released in 1998.  So even though the sound mix is still pretty spectacular, it will never have the bass impact or power of something like Hacksaw Ridge or War of the Worlds, mostly because that ULF was never there to begin with.  A 22Hz extension in a 1998 movie is actually fairly decent and better than most.


As far as that review, it's purely subjective.  'Punchy' bass is up in the 30-50Hz region so even if the DTS track did feel 'punchier' it may not actually get any lower.


Now it's also true that a number of movies get remixed when they go to BD (usually upconverting an older Dolby Surround track into 5.1).  Sometimes when they do that they take steps to improve or enhance the bass.  Sometimes it works (the Star Wars trilogy), sometimes it doesn't (Neverending Story).  SPR was mixed in 5.1 originally, and those soundtracks tend to not be changed much (if at all) when they go to BD.  So ironically a newer movie might actually sound less bassy on BD than an older movie that has been recently remixed.  


It's an odd state of things for sure, but it is good to keep it in mind when comparing the bass levels of BD soundtracks.

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Just to ask the question...  what was the reason ULF started becoming more common, then?



Was it just improved microphones recording real life events for use in films, capturing the low stuff properly?


Or was the technology better?  (sound design, playback equipment, etc?)


Or was it recognition that human hearing / the loudness curves didn't actually stop at 20Hz?


Or just increased pressure from this new fangled internet thing for more realistic sounds?



Whatever the answer is, I'm grateful it's around!

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I don't know for sure, but I think it was a happy combination of ProTools, digital mixing boards and digital masters.


Prior to all of those, the equipment was still based on analog tape and signal paths, I remember reading a story from Jurassic Park on how even though Gary Rydstrom used digital sampling and processing on his dinosaur sounds, they ended up being transferred to analog tape for the editing and mixing sessions.  Even final mixes were recorded out to analog tape.  Fun fact: According to the Criterion Bluray, The Thin Red Line (another '98 war movie) was mixed to magnetic six track tape, even though it's a full 5.1 surround mix.  Long story short, analog stinks when it comes to ULF, so if there was any to begin with it likely got scooped out by a hardwired filter somewhere in the signal chain.


Around 1998-1999 is when ProTools really started to worm it's way into studios (Livin La Vida Loca was the first fully ProTools hit single and it was in '98 I think).  Being that it was fully digital it could retain all that ULF that sound FX editors were creating when they pitched stuff down or ran it through those brand new Waves Audio digital subharmonic generators.  Then the analog mixing boards started to be replaced by digital boards, and the same thing happened there.  Then the analog masters turned into PCM masters, and boom, all that lovely ULF finally made it through.  I seriously doubt most monitoring stages could reproduce any of this stuff at first, but a few probably could (like Skywalker Sound).


I really doubt the internet had anything to do with it.  Remember these people mix for movie theaters.  They can't do ULF for crap, so I still don't think most film mixers really care too much about it.  Thankfully some seem to though, and they leave the high pass off when they mix.

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And then there's Lone Survivor with a 6.x Hz signal 10 dB hotter than the rest of the audio track. Tells me they aren't paying attention to things down there or at least not consistently from movie to movie and engineer to engineer. But then other movies are done well down low; annoying there are stil so many inconsistencies.

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