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Go Back   Blu-ray Forum > Audio > Audio Theory and Discussion

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Old 07-07-2020, 05:42 AM   #341
RXP RXP is offline
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What a fantastic post - I was interested in all this after trialing TIDAL with Dolby Atmos music - it uses an offset value for music. So know we finally have a reference volume for music.

Does anyone know if Dolby Atmos tracks in movies make use of Dial Norm on 4k UHDs?

Edit: A good (critical) article on it here

Quote:
Finally, we have a bit of a reprieve from on high when it comes to Dolby Atmos/TrueHD tracks on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray (and maybe Blu-ray; I haven’t looked at a Blu-ray Disc in years). All the ones I’ve looked at so far have DialNorm turned off (DialNorm -31dB or 0 off set).

Last edited by RXP; 07-07-2020 at 05:49 AM.
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Old 07-30-2020, 09:39 AM   #342
RXP RXP is offline
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So I thought I'd start measuring my movies to see what their average loudness is. What a rabit hole that turned out to be for a couple of days. Lots of industry articles from mixing engineers which has been really useful.

My primary interest is ensuring I can listen at 85db average, when I want to and not risk hearing damage.

We've all been told that calibrate your kit and hit 0 on the volume and it'll be reference. In my personal experience that just wasn't the case - some movies were just way too loud at reference. I believe this is where people thinking reference volume being too loud comes from. I thought dialnorm would rescue me, but the article I posted above clearly shows there's no science behind it. In principle it can work great - Netflix is an example of that.

There's a fantastic tool ffmpeg-normalize. It uses the ITU spec for "Integrated Loudness", basically a better psycho-acoustic measure of loudness for the digital domain to measure files average loudness.

Below are 3 movies (higher value is louder)
  • Spectre (2015) -13.27 LUFS
  • Godzilla (2019) -15.29 LUFS
  • Skyfall (2012) - 14.56 LUFS

-21 LUFS = 85dbC
- 27 LUFS = 79dbC

At 0 on your AVR, without any offset, these movies go well beyond 85dbC. So if you hit up 0 on your AVR Spectre will hit an average of 92.73db. Remember this is all in the digital domain so there's no speculation about rooms or reflections etc. This is simply how loud it is.

Even a typical offset of 4db that you apply to DTS won't solve it. It'll actually have to be an 8db offset to hit 85db average.

This also rings true to the Audioholics recent YouTube video* on loudness in movies. Frozen 2 achieved 89dbA on a calibrated dosimeter.

I found a sensible article from an industry insider on recommendations for loudness in commercial cinemas which i'll be adopting at home.

Quote:
If the Program Level is at or below -27 LUFS: just play it as it is. With low levels, the movie is probably intended as a "soft movie".

If the Program Level is above -27 LUFS, check if the cinema has set the "loud movie playback" option. If not, attenuate the soundtrack during playback to -27 LUFS. If yes, check if the Program Level is above the absolute limit of -21 LUFS. In that case, attenuate to -21 LUFS.
In my case - my system is capable of 105db peaks so for big budget action movies I'll hit -21 LUFS (85dbA) and for regular movies I'll hit -217which is 79dbA

I didn't realize there was a loudness war going on in movies. Insiders are claiming that dynamic range is much more compressed than 10 years ago. Because crowds have been complaining that movies are too loud the cinemas turn their volume down.

Because they turn their volume down, mixers know they need to achieve a higher level for dialogue in order to be loud enough - which compresses dynamic range. In the article a movie mastered for TV according to the R128 spec had more dynamic range than the cinema version!

As a home cinema nerd I was also amazed at just how varied the mixing conditions are. From an industry survey there's very little standards. Some are mixing at 79, some at 83, some at 85. Some wear ear plugs.

In summary if you like to listen loud but want to have peace of mind that you won't case hearing damage - ffmpeg-normalize can compute the LUFS of the movie which you can then offset in your AVR menu. That will also keep things like Dynamic EQ/Volume which rely on a known reference volume working ideally.

*

Last edited by RXP; 07-31-2020 at 12:20 PM. Reason: Wrong LUFS ns
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Old 07-30-2020, 02:49 PM   #343
PeterTHX PeterTHX is offline
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Saw Spectre with the family in an AMC theater.

It was deafening. I like movies loud and all when they need to be but it made watching the film very unpleasant. The fam ended up getting free passes from management.
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Old 07-31-2020, 04:16 AM   #344
RXP RXP is offline
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I don't mind the volume per se at home it's easy to turn down - but things like Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume from Audysey rely on a known reference volume. I was questioning the reference being too loud. But if that's how you remember at AMC - maybe not.

But at least with ffmpeg-normalize I can scan big block busters and adjust accordingly. Some, like Disney I think will need increasing! I'll process more and report back.

The two articles I linked to in the post have some sensible suggestions.
Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 2 was 4 years later and nothing had really changed.

As the author writes

Quote:
The current dynamics in the cinema are now smaller than that with a R128 television broadcast.
I only go to premium ones like IMAX. I believe their mastering process preserves more because it is damn loud and quiet passages are quiet. But I did see Ad Astra in a cinema in Swtizerland. What I noticed was the Dolby Spheres demo clip was pretty impressive before the presentation, but the actual presentation was very quiet. The articles above are from European industry insiders.

All this makes me really look forward to the IMAX Enhanced audio tracks. Not because of some fancy processing - but only because they are more likely to control for all this.
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Old 07-31-2020, 05:05 AM   #345
PeterTHX PeterTHX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RXP View Post
All this makes me really look forward to the IMAX Enhanced audio tracks. Not because of some fancy processing - but only because they are more likely to control for all this.
They're still subject to home video mastering. It's not the same as theatrical IMAX.
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Old 07-31-2020, 11:20 AM   #346
RXP RXP is offline
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The good thing is I can analyse them when they're out anyway - I'm sure the BassEQ people at AVSforums will also be all over it.

Age of Ultron Blu-ray/DTS was reviewed on this site with complaints about low level, echoed on the thread. And the Atmos was even worse.

Age of Ultron DTS Track: -21.41 LUFS
Age of Ultron DTS-HD Track: -23.31
Age of Ultron Atmos track: -25.61 LUFS


The DTS track is ~84db avg, HD is ~82 and Atmos is 79db Avg. This is at 0 on your AVR. So no wonder they seemed light. The DTS track would need a 6db boost to get it to the levels in Kong 8db for DTSHD and 11db for Atmos! The Atmos track didn't have dialnorm. So this is playback level too.

This is also an explanation of why some of these movies hit so light on the LFE. If the level is low, and they're not being boosted via the input volume trim on your AVR, then any house curves/loudness compensation won't kick in. So we perceive less bass due Fletcher/Munson curves.

If however you trim to -21 LUFS/85db the loudness compensation can take care of it. Those with manual house curves can then just reset their house curve for their AVR at 0

Last edited by RXP; 07-31-2020 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 08-01-2020, 01:25 PM   #347
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So I figured out a way to apply an A weighting in Audacity to manually compute the levels. Graphic EQ and ACX plugins were used.

A weighting is a better indicator of how we hear and its used for hearing loss prevention. Bass in movies is really throwing off the LUFS numbers for hearing safety analysis.

When you analyse A weighted Spectre is actually only 82dbA. Well below the threshold of hearing loss.

In summary: ffmpeg-normalize is very useful to fix these low mixes we seem to get now days. Find a mix volume you like. Personally for me it's Kong. Boost any big block buster movie to that. Then you'll get rid of the At-mouse. It makes little sense to do that with a quiet movie. Just leave those as is. DialNorm simply isn't going to get you there.

You don't need to worry about hearing loss from listening at reference volume. Just ensure you are actually running at reference and you can only do that with a calibrated SPL meter (e.g. UMIK with calibration file loaded). A Radioshack or phone app won't do it. In my case my Audyssey mic set my F/C/R levels between 3 and 4db too high
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Old 08-01-2020, 05:24 PM   #348
CreasyBear CreasyBear is online now
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I've had a few instances in the last several years where theaters were too loud. I saw BvS at an IMAX and I thought I was going to have hearing loss after the opening scene in Metropolis. Thankfully, they were able to turn it down. That's the first time I've ever done that. I saw Rise of Skywalker this past December at a Marquee Cinemas MXC theater and it was just deafening and I had to leave and get a refund because they refused to turn it down, despite the fact that there were only a handful of people in the theater. I've never been to an Atmos theater, but based on a couple of experiences at IMAX, I'm just not sure how enjoyable it would be given how loud the films play.
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Old 09-08-2020, 09:27 PM   #349
ton4eff ton4eff is offline
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I did some experiments with my Onkyo TX-NR696 receiver. Dolby Digital file encoded with a flag at -27dBFS, plays as it is - no dialog normalization applied. If it is flagged at -31dBFS, Onkyo adds +4db dialog normalization. Yes, it does exactly what it says on the display: it increases the volume by +4db. For DTS file encoded at -31dBFS, it also applies +4db. So a Dolby Digital file flagged at -27dBFS and a DTS file flagged at -31dBFS sound equally loud. So I'm assuming that Onkyo applies dialog normalization to anything different from -27dBFS. I can send the test files to anybody who's interested.

Last edited by ton4eff; 09-08-2020 at 11:42 PM.
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