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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Discussion and Poll



41 members have voted

  1. 1. Execution

    • 5 Stars
    • 4 Stars
    • 3 Stars
    • 2 Stars
    • 1 Star
  2. 2. Recommendation

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  • 7 months later...
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I *finally* watched this.  I got the 3D collector's edition for Xmas, but we watched the 2D disc.  No idea if the soundtrack got changed between, but probably not.  I listened at most between "-5"  and "-5.5" on the MV, which is approximately room appropriate playback level for a reference level track in my room.  Oddly that 0.5 dB seemed to make a world of difference.  Some of the dialog may have been at quite a low level, leading me to bump it, only to drop it again in other scenes.  Maybe this is related to the "choppiness" that Harbottle reports.  Contrary to my earlier speculation, I'm thinking this may have been the 7.1 theatrical mix.  It seemed quite bright for what I'd expect for a home mix, and dynamics seemed a bit exaggerated at times.  These are common characteristics I notice in a lot of movie soundtracks, but I rarely hear music tracks that sound +this bright.  Some time soon, I will experiment with different HF roll-offs for this film to try to tone down the brightness.  That might get me another 1 or 2 dB of comfortable master volume and probably cleaner dialog and better mid-bass slam as excess treble definitely can mask mid bass sound and feeling, IME.  Even despite the brightness, the presentation at home blew away the RPX at.  The dialog was still clean enough I heard a ton of stuff I'm pretty sure I missed in the theater because they turned down the volume too much.


I gave this a 5 star for execution because I enjoyed the use of bass in the sound design very much.  I heard a few instances of clipping, but it was mostly non-offensive to me.  That may be helped by my system having a good tonal balance, which does seem to make clipping less irritating even as it remains audible.  I also forgot about the -3 dB limiting but decided to go with "5 stars" because that was my instinct.  I don't give this rating to many films.  Rarely do I enjoy the bass like I did here.


For point of reference, I'm running at 18 Hz ported subs.  With that said, this is among the top films I've seen as far as noticeable ULF is concerned.  Better yet, it all sounded intentional.  Even as the soundtrack was a tad heavy on 30 Hz, it was nowhere near as humped sounding as it looks in the PvA.  The force transient effects were damn scary and pressurized the room very strongly.  I also noticed many interesting lower frequency undulations in the more continuous force effects.  The forest scene keeps getting mentioned again.  Something in there seemed to hit the 12-13 Hz floor wobble that only HTTYD is able to hit strong enough on this system (when the red dragon first bursts out of the cave) to feel.  When the ground started cracking and caving in, it felt like it, complete with a momentary sensation of the sofa sinking.  That was damn cool.  I'm pretty sure my new 4 x 21" sealed subs will have a field day with this, even without BEQ.  And I totally agree this one is real bad about audible room rattle.  The styrofoam diffusers were downright annoying but something I can probably fix.  The rattling window panes are another issue, but they rarely give me trouble like they did in this movie.  All the talk about ULF is not to ignore the solid mid bass bangs and booms offered throughout.


Overall, this was a lot of fun, and I am very eager to watch it again with a bit of HF roll-off, better subwoofers, and maybe better secured wall-hangings.  Considering how intense the ULF was with my 18 Hz subs, I can only imagine what the sealed subs will do, especially with BEQ.

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Just a quick update.  I updated my target curve recently after noting that the top octave was still a bit too sharp with a lot of content.  The change amounted to a -1 dB Q 0.5 shelf centered at 12 kHz or so.  I just now decided to give this track another listen, and the tonal balance sounds much better now, so I guess the brightness issue was on my end.  The comfortable listening level is now up at "-4.5", and the transient sounds don't seem nearly as exaggerated as they did.  As such, I'm no longer so sure if this is a theatrical vs. home mix.  I guess I still can't really tell the difference.


Unfortunately, the -3 dBFS limiter is more apparent now that the excess "bite" is gone, but I'll live with it.  It's still way less offensive than a lot of movies from a few years ago. IMO.  And more generally, clipping in soundtracks seems like much less of a bother on my current system with lots of extra headroom.  My thinking is that inferior systems are more likely to mangle the flattops  further with cascading downstream effects that accentuate the nastiness.  As such, and assuming the use of the limiter is a "home mix" thing, I don't get why mixers think it's helpful.  :(  I'm still not going to boycott the industry over this.  Indeed, it still sounds 10X better at home than it did in the theater, to say nothing of how much most music releases suck.

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