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


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Yeah, that rating for dynamics is a huge number for that high of a level.


Need votes on the polls so I can retire them.  Help out, folks!  Watch some movies with bass!  ;)


Specifically, if you're reading this, vote on Elysium and The Lorax - they both need tiebreaker votes.  While you're at it, vote on all the other open polls of the movies you've watched.

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The Redbox Escape Plan that I got yesterday only had an DD 5.1 soundtrack. 


Yeah, that rating for dynamics is a huge number for that high of a level.



I'd like to use this statement for a discussion on dynamics. The Levels and Dynamic Range criteria used here for scoring seem counter to the actual dynamics available in a movie. The Dynamic Range term used for scoring is actually a measure of the crest factor. Bob Katz, in his Mastering Audio book, and others use "dynamic range" to refer to the difference between the loudest and softest portions in a movie. As is pointed out in articles, dynamic range is used interchangeably for either crest factor or loudness differences. When most comment about dynamics in a movie, though, they are referring to loudness differences. 



The higher this number, the less actual average loudness range a movie will have. This is because the total average loudness is so high. FOH made a post at AVS a few weeks ago that pertains:


Not necessarily for enjoyment, but for sonic assessment, (more so than genre) I prefer quality, low intrinsic loudness material. Thus, high peak energy, well defined transients, nice reverb/decay tail. The Chesky label from the demo/test disc suggested by coolgeek, spans a variety of jazz type genres, not everyone's cup of tea, I like it. Bob Katz is often involved in the engineering effort throughout much of that label. If one isn't familiar, Katz, a mastering engineer, is a prominent figure leading the effort against the loudness wars/compression trends within the industry.

Katz often points out the merits of low intrinsic loudness. Intrinsic loudness is the perceived loudness of a recording, relative to known overall gain structure, or a intra-system level. A more compressed/hot recording, with higher intrinsic loudness, typically has diminished transient clarity, and by definition, less dynamic range. Often, but not always, with an increase in intrinsic loudness, the overall quality goes down. Older, pre loudness war material is often dramatically better (in these metrics) than most anything that's released within the loudness war time period. That said, there's still solid exceptions throughout the time period ... spanning all types of music.

Low intrinsic loudness material is more realistic, needs more playback level, and can sound fantastically detailed at concert-like SPLs. But, such material can be brutally demanding ... needing significant headroom and peak capability, because enjoying it at satisfying and realistically loud average level, mean the transient peaks riding atop, if resolved cleanly, can require monumental capability.


Dynamic Range

If you think about dynamics as the softest to the loudest portion of a soundtrack, most LFE tracks have silence and can peak at 115 dB. Even with the difference between the quietest and loudest actual sound there can a loudness range of 105 dB when combining all channels. A Spectrum Lab waterfall chart will show this loudness range. Comparing the crest factor of two movies tells you nothing about these changes in loudness, how often they occur, and the impact they have on the listener. For example, there was recently this dialog about Elysium in the AVS Master List of Bass thread:


Carp:  Watched Elysium tonight. There was some nice low bass in it, but as others have mentioned the lack of dynamics ruined it.


Defsoundz:  I agree on Elysium. For the nature of the movie, you'd expect a much more lively and dynamic soundtrack.


Nube:  Elysium has measured 5 star dynamics. While not the absolute best dynamics, this is pretty great for an action film that's heavy in the ELF region.


Carp:  When I said dynamics I wasn't just talking about the bass, it just seemed like everything was in a 10 db range or something. Very often in action movies huge volume swings will make me jump, not even close with this movie.


Cowboys:  I agree. I posted a while back that this movie did not impress me.


GPBurns:  probably one the weakest big budget sci-fi mixes in recent history in regards to scene dynamics


Nube:  When we measure dynamics, we measure the entire track, not just bass. smile.gif Elysium had over 28dB dynamics, and it really shows in many of the action sequences. I'm not gonna continue to try to change your opinions about this, but Elysium had better dynamics than TIH, WOTW, etc.


You can see that there was a complete disconnect here with crest factor and loudness range getting mixed up.


Here are some comments by Dennis Erkstine on movie dynamics (few year old):


Film calibration is max dB at 105 dB (LFE is 115 dB).

Speakers calibrated to -20dBFS, or 85 dB.
Softest sound recorded is 22 dB. Total available dynamic range is then 83dB.
Very, very few residential systems have the ability to reproduce 105dB at the listening positions meaning only a very small minority have (1) actually experienced the full dynamic range available; and, (2) have systems capable of doing so without distortion at the upper end or having the bottom end washed out by ambient noise in the room.




There are films which have dynamic ranges in the 105 and greater range. These have included Jurassic Park and the Last Action Hero. I believe this is true with Batman returns; but, I'll need to research that one.



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Dynamics as measured on this thread is NOT the same as what is often known as Dynamic Range.  Let me repeat that.  Dynamics as measured on this thread is NOT the same as Dynamic Range.  It is on the first post.  It is the difference between the RMS and the Peak level of a soundtrack, all channels summed, and assuming all speakers are equidistant from the listener.  It is not a low-passed result either.  It includes ALL sonic content on a film.


When I first created the ranking system, I used an 'area under the curve' approach, which was flawed (there are many posts debating the measurement strategies in the beginning of this thread).  Lacking a better way to tell how loud a film's loudest parts are compared to the rest of it, the Dynamics (as defined here) measurement changed to be Overall Peak - RMS, as it side-stepped the problems inherent in the 'area under the curve' approach.  I think the Dynamics rating is a VERY GOOD rating.  In fact, had I the time and 'want-to', I'd change the ranking system to make 5-Star Dynamics 30+dB, and so on down the line.  But that would be an undertaking I don't want to pursue, and one that would leave the 5-Star category devoid of anyone except Star Trek (2009), which was well deserved.  


I have found that if a track extends low <10Hz, has >30dB dynamics, it will be a very enjoyable track, if it isn't clipped/overly compressed.  The Level category is to give credit to the monsters out there (WOTW, Cloverfield, etc).  To score 5 Stars on Level, a track has to have a terrific SPL level on its loudest instantaneous peak, have a very loud RMS peak (0.125s integration time), and have an RMS level that will not drag down the average of all 3 below 112.5.  Lots of folks will find that tracks they thought were very loud do not have 5-Star Level.  Its because the way we hear, an instantaneous peak does not carry the 'loudness' a peak of longer duration will (FOTP plane-roll is a perfect example).  I decided to use equal weighting between the RMS Peak, Overall Peak, and Overall RMS contributions to form the Level category.  Is it flawed?  Of course.  But NO ONE has as good an apples-apples system to compare LF in films without resorting to imaginative adjectives.  


Looking at a PvA graph, and seeing the numbers on a film can nearly give you a very good idea of what the experience will be like.  Of course, a bad movie is still a bad movie, and there are exceptions to the rule.


The fact that I use RMS at all is also flawed, as it will tend to over-weigh excursions in any direction, just like a mean.  But I had to use something repeatable and reproducible, in order to have a true apples-apples.


A 5-Star overall film has to be LOUD, has to have enough soft parts so the loud parts seem LOUDER, and extend to the lowest frequencies.  Very few films will meet these criteria, hence the exclusiveness.  I use a very demanding set of criteria (to see greater than 115dB peaks, LFE + at least one channel have to be max/near max AND in phase).  For a film to reach the full 5-Stars and not be grossly clipped has yet to happen.


Even Star Trek 2009 had some square waves on near every channel on those warps (which were TREMENDOUS, and not equaled by the second film, not by a long shot).  It may have been absolutely on purpose though, and was a terrific effect, so it gets my vote for a 5-Star Execution, and an overall 5-Star Film.



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Using the established, not on this thread definition of dynamic range, I have yet to encounter a film with less than 108dB Dynamic Range with an HD track (all channels summed, including the entirety of the main movie).  Most lie above 118dB, and a select few over 120dB.  24-bit audio is awesome, with >140dB potential dynamic range.   It is our systems and rooms that fail.



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Thanks for all the detailed posts above :)


I feel bad not responding directly to them with something clever but my brain is tired and I'm not sure I have anything worthwhile to add right now  :lol: lol



I will instead suggest 'Unstoppable' as a potential movie to graph! :P

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First time post, I've come close on several pre-release movies, but this one has me amazed. Thor: The Dark World had my system really cooking. Not sure if it was the DTS-MA rip I got, but playing at reference, the vocals were quite normal range, and nowhere was the main volume too high, but the bass scenes with both attacks of the Dark Elves on Asgard, and following Thor and Jane to earth, the attacking ship plowing/landing into the earth scene reminded me of the power of the Washington Monument buckling in OHF.


The bass scenes were endless, and awesome. My first request for analysis by this fun group of experts. Hopefully this will hit the mark.

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May I also suggest Megamind and The Incredibles? Not only are these two very enjoyable animated movies, but they feature some serious bass. My favorite scenes are the final battle in Megamind (starting at around 1:14) and the Missile Lock scene in The Incredibles (at around 1:00). My DIY sealed JL Audio 13W7 is moving over 2" peak to peak during these scenes when I play them at near reference, and the impact is incredible.

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Sorry for my disappearance, which is the result of several factors. First, I was coaxed out of semi-retirement to design and draw a very major Demo/upfit/add-on for a past client. I still draw by hand and full plan review drawings for this one are a LOT of work.


At the same time, I decided to give the listening space a facelift. New recessed lights, paddle fan, trim, paint, faux fur wainscoting, Klaussner theater seats, LED under-lit riser with remote to change colors, color patter, fade, etc., new solid rosewood furniture and a Mits 82" DLP to replace the Panny 50" plasma.


Some pics:


attachicon.gifHT Redo.png


attachicon.gifafter copy.png


attachicon.gifTotal Recall, seats.png




We're still continuing down the stairs with patch, prime, paint, and may not stop til we get to the mailbox at the curb.  :o

Nice work! I did that last year and as fun as it was the bathroom will have to wait  :D and nice move on the big Mits 82,just cleaned the fan and mirror and dropped a new lamp in my 73738 and in love all over again :wub:  

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All Is Lost (5.1 DTS-HD MA)

Level        - 4 Stars (111.9dB composite)
Extension - 5 Stars (1Hz)
Dynamics - 5 Stars (30.24dB)

Execution - 5 Stars (by poll)


Overall     - 4.75 Stars

Recommendation - Rent (by poll)


Notes:  What is it about small sea vessel movies that makes for so much use of the LFE?  I dunno, but I'm not complaining.  This is a tremendous movie that has a bunch of very deep content.  It has a scene that nearly rivals the Olympus Has Fallen - Washington Monument scene.  (See below.)  While I probably won't watch the movie ever again, and it was pretty annoying at times, it's overall quite solid and firmly entertaining, especially with this type of sound mix.






SpecLab scenecaps:











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Ender's Game (7.1 DTS-HD MA)

Level        - 5 Stars (113.3dB composite)
Extension - 5 Stars (4Hz)
Dynamics - 5 Stars (29.1dB)

Execution - 4 Stars (by poll)


Overall     - 4.75 Stars

Recommendation - Buy (by poll)



Notes:  Ender's Game might be the next 5 star movie, although that's certainly up for debate.  This one does have a significantly humped graph, and kinda cheats to get that 5 Stars extension rating, but there is legit, unfiltered content down low at 4Hz. The mix is good, and the use of bass is pretty well done, though without any big effects below 20Hz.  Honestly, for those of you with big displacement sealed systems, this one is pretty good, but not great.  For moderate, commercial ported systems, it'll prolly sound like one of the best mixes ever. Check out the many scenecaps below to find out more.


Unfortunately, there is also clipping in the LCR and subwoofer channels that mars the otherwise good sound design.  This one isn't as clean and pure as the mix on some of last year's best, and there's a reason it's not nominated for any big sound awards, but it's generally pretty good.  Purists will prolly give this a 4 Star execution rating, but it's certainly a crowd pleaser visually and audibly, even if the movie was merely average at best.






SpecLab scenecaps:












Rocket Launch








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Looks a bit like Ender's Game cheats a bit on the Extension rating with that 4Hz peak :P lol


All is Lost looks like a monster, though!




I will instead suggest 'Unstoppable' as a potential movie to graph! :P


Added to queue.




Thank you! :)



I thought I remember that one being graphed already and it was mostly rolling off below 30hz? Maybe I am remembering wrong. It sure was a midbass monster at the cinema. Oooo! Another one to throw onto my 'revisit' queue. :D

You may be correct - I did search on here and couldn't find anything, but my browser is refusing to play ball with the AVS website and I can't search the Movies with Bass thread (or any thread...) on there to check!

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