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Old July 10th, 2008, 12:07 AM   #1
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Sick of Uneven Dialogue Levels in Hollywood Movies

I've watched about 8 movies in a row that have issues with uneven dialogue levels. These are HD DVDs encoded with Dolby Digital Plus.

My TV and DVD Player do not have an audio leveling option enabled.

Are sound mixers really getting that bad? I understand something like making a shout/yell louder than normal dialogue but constantly having to fiddle with my volume control when actors are whispering or one character's line sounds quieter than another or when a loud explosion/action sequence starts and the music is blasting.

I don't remember having this problem with VHS. We'd just set the volume once and forget it throughout the rest of the film.

Perhaps Hollywood can comoromise with consumers and run their 100 dB dynamic range soundtracks through a compressor and put it on a separate "night mode" track?
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Old July 10th, 2008, 12:10 AM   #2
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I have to agree with you. It seems Hollywood movies are mixed to be watched at a very high volume. If you want to hear the dialog, you have to be ready to have your ears blasted for any dramatic moments.

I hate it, too...
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Old July 10th, 2008, 12:31 AM   #3
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THANK YOU!

Yes, I completely agree. I adjust the volume up and down at least every 15 minutes it seems with recent movies. Talk about a suspension of disbelief killer...
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Old July 10th, 2008, 03:41 AM   #4
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What you could do is reduce the dynamic range by using a compressor..
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Old July 10th, 2008, 07:57 AM   #5
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How many people who feel this way are over forty?

Seriously.
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Old July 15th, 2008, 01:41 PM   #6
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Yeah, it's the new generational conflict.

No, sound mixers are not getting worse, they WANT to do it this way.

Yes, I am over 40. And yes, I hate the kids stopping next to me at the stop light when their car is polluting my ears with 150dB bass...
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Old July 15th, 2008, 02:23 PM   #7
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Case in point. We were watching a movie the other day and my wife, who is not a video person, but what you would consider a regular movie watcher, says "there's something wrong with the sound. You can hear everything but the dialogue." She was astounded when I explained it was mixed like that on purpose, and you just had to turn it way up.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 01:42 PM   #8
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no, its not just an age thing

It could be age, but i dont think so, because of the way the 5.1 sourround is mixed i find on some movies the rear speakers are barely audible whilst on others they are over-powering (i thought it was my system at first but its not), whilst on others the stereo spread is poor with everything blasting out of the centre channel....and if i put on a movie about gang-warfare, the bass comes thundering out (because they have clearly mixed the bass way up compared to a typical movie)

I have a night mode on my amp which compresses audio but its still doesnt compensate for me having to adjust the volume, especially as i like to hear the voices as loud as possible - its not budget either as i have picked high quality amp/speakers.

But theres no doubt that when i watched Saving private Ryan loudly on my system it was just incredible - I think there are certain movies where you miss something if its watched at low volume.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 04:10 PM   #9
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I agree this is something I'm seeing/hearing more and more. Last week I saw 'Hot Fuzz' but the mix was unbearable bad; the vocal tracks were so low compared to everything else.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 04:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherif Choudhry View Post

But theres no doubt that when i watched Saving private Ryan loudly on my system it was just incredible - I think there are certain movies where you miss something if its watched at low volume.

I think that just goes to prove the point - if a soundtrack is mixed for the cinema, it is designed to be played loudly, and just as importantly, in a big space!

In theory, it should really be remixed for TV or DVD. Whether it often happens is another matter. I wonder how many people in the business actually take notice of the details in documents like this for example? (warning:before you open it I should tell you it's 106 pages long, and like wading through treacle!:-)

http://www.dolby.com/assets/pdf/tech...Guidelines.pdf


Which is why I suspect most of it is probably ignored.

Now if you really want to hear easy to understand dialogue, you need to play those 70's and 80's TV series like 'Columbo' and 'Quincy MD'.

Listen to that dialogue through headphones --cuts your ears off!

In my experience the kind of program favoured by the older viewers, whose hearing is perhaps less than pristine. To quote an elderly relative - ' how nice to be able to hear the words, without upsetting my neighbours!'

Not a very fashionable way of recording dialogue recording any more, I fear.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 09:00 PM   #11
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Interesting thread.Do you listen to stereo, 5.1, DTS or other?
Are your speakers all in phase?
I haven't noticed this very often( small scenes seemingly done for a a purpose) and I'm in the ............ less than pristine ear group.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 11:06 PM   #12
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I agree about the sound levels. But I wonder if it won't help to acoustically treat a living room. Most people just shove their TV / speakers against the wall which generally creates horrible noise cancelling/increasing reflections all over the place. I notice it's much easier to hear movies in my acoustically treated studio. My living room has the normal blank dry wall all around. I've been thinking about putting up sound absorbing panels and buying a nice large rug to put in front of the TV to see if that helps.
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Old July 20th, 2008, 11:10 PM   #13
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But I do agree, the sound levels are a problem above and beyond treating your viewing room.
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Old July 21st, 2008, 12:43 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Wisniewski View Post
a nice large rug to put in front of the TV to see if that helps.
Won't that make it difficult to SEE the movie?

George/
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Old July 21st, 2008, 06:12 AM   #15
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I think Michael refers to a rug in front of the TV... on the hardwood floor.

To absorb unwanted sound reflections.
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