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Old 08-29-2015, 09:57 PM   #401
garyrc garyrc is offline
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Apr 2009

Originally Posted by ZoetMB View Post
Frequency Modulation distortion? How does that apply to movie sound? Are you sure you're not referring to harmonic distortion, which every amp and speaker system is subject to?

Personally, I never liked horns either. They always sounded metallic to me, as does much digital audio.

When I saw "Star Wars" in 70mm at the Loews Astor Plaza in NYC, the sound was far inferior to "Close Encounters..." at the Ziegfeld. But it wasn't strident. It just didn't have as much impact.
Thanks for the information.

Frequency Modulation distortion not the same as Harmonic distortion. I'm no expert, but "horny" designers say that Frequency Modulation distortion (so- called Doppler distortion) interferes with with clarity of attack in the bass (in theaters, the midrange and treble have less of a problem, because they are almost always horn loaded). With the same woofer cones, a good horn design can provide about 1/3 the Frequency Modulation distortion at a given SPL as can a non-horn (e.g., ported) design, everything else being held equal. The problem (as I understand it) is that the greater the cone excursion, the more the higher bass "rides" back and forth on a cone producing the mid bass and lower bass, with the resulting Doppler effect producing blurring, and a "looser" sound. A woofer in a horn loaded design moves much less, frequency for frequency, at a given SPL. There is good news and bad news. The good news is that the burden has been (largely) taken off of home and theater main front woofers with the use of subwoofers. The bad news is 1) bass attack frequencies above the crossover still need to be produced by a direct radiator, unless horn loaded, and 2) the subwoofers themselves move over a wide excursion -- but at least the frequencies above the crossover no longer have to ride on a wildly moving cone that is also producing deep bass (at least in HT, I don't know whether theaters are using a true crossover, which would protect the main woofers from VLF, or low pass filters, which would not). Several horn loaded subwoofers are now available to HT users to try to get around the problem. Some are DIY, and some from manufacturers. I believe Klipsch came out with one this year, but I'm not sure.

The metallic sound you are talking about would be in the range that is still horn loaded in commercial theaters ... at the moment, I don't think there is an alternative, because of the size of the theaters, and the SPL needed. But, I don't find most horns metallic with good program material, and good equipment. The Coronet used to be fully horn loaded, during its best days. After all of the changes we have been talking about, it always used horns above the bass range and always had a warm sound (except for Star Wars). I preferred the bass attack of the older mag films during the time the Coronet was fully horn loaded. The non-horn loaded bass at our local IMAX is unimpressive in that regard. Of course, modern films have an extra octave of bass, at least. We use horns in our HT and music listening room (except for the sub, unfortunately) and like them better than the alternatives we have heard. The source makes a huge difference. The rank order of sound quality in our home, across various media, starting at the best, is: Blu-ray sound, SACD or DVD-A, with CD at the bottom. Some of the CD sound might be called metallic, but I'd say slightly strident instead. Our longer horns are not made of metal, but of something else that looks like braced fiberglass.

True, digital sounds worse than analog, but with some of the newer Blu-rays with DTS HD Master, I think they are finally getting how to record it. My old recording professor, who was in the industry for about 40 years told me they took decades to learn how to baby analog, so it may take a while with digital. Also, I prefer tubes to ss, but have nothing but ss now. Ss has improved over the early years, when too much negative feedback lowered THD, but elevated TIM. My dead Luxman sounded "tube-like."

What you said about Close Encounters vs Star Wars in the two theaters was interesting. The theater makes such a difference. I saw both of the above movies at the Coronet; CE sounded better balanced. To be fair to Star Wars, the stridency occurred only during some parts of the score, and with R2D2's noises. When they re-released it -- also at the Coronet -- years later, in 35 mm and a dull sounding print, the stridency was gone, even with R2D2, but the shimmer was gone, as well. San Francisco used to have 6 70mm theaters, and they all sounded different, with the Coronet being the best.
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Old 08-29-2015, 10:21 PM   #402
PeterTHX PeterTHX is offline
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Sep 2006

Originally Posted by garyrc View Post
True, digital sounds worse than analog, but with some of the newer Blu-rays with DTS HD Master, I think they are finally getting how to record it.
You should hear some of the new ones with Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1

Gravity and Mad Max: Fury Road are one of the best soundmixes ever on Blu.
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