Blu-Rays too quiet.... stumped....

wwjd wrote on 10/12/2014, 7:09 PM
I'm trying to pop out some Blu-Rays for a Film Festival I got selected for... trouble is the discs are AWEFULLY QUIET!!! I mean like HALF volume. I normally listen to my TV discs around 17 on volume, I gotta jump to 30 for about the same volume. Other real blu-rays are good and loud.

Here's what I got:
both stereo and 5.1 surround, both mixed to peak at -.1 ma. NO RED peaks. So, it is pushed to the cap. With RMS around, maybe -18 ish.

Render out to proper AC3, check templates, remove weird compressions (i've already compressed the mix a bunch) and set any levels I find to their max, which is -1

It works fine, just too quiet and I don't know what I am supposed to do to fix that. Do I leave the renders built in compression turned on? Will that make it a LOUD FEST?

Any help would be great. I've burn 4 discs no with no luck

Comments

John_Cline wrote on 10/12/2014, 7:21 PM
Set the level in the AC3 encoder to - 31
wwjd wrote on 10/12/2014, 7:47 PM
I'll try that thanks. I tried setting to -1 not knowing how it even worked, but seemed worse. Thanks!

...
still looks pretty quiet on the visual wave seen in DVDA.... the wave takes up maybe the center 1/3 of the channel... shouldn't it be larger? take up more?

I'll burn it and see what happens.
I want this to me ridiclously loud without peaking or distorting.

- yeah, if I drag the original MP4 into DVDA, it sounds fine, but the wave doesn't show - just shows a flat line. So it must be in the render
videoITguy wrote on 10/12/2014, 9:04 PM
Dolby AC sound is programmed to give dynamic range - which for you on a burned disc is not going to work out well. Go directly to using PCM sound if you want it loud over the typical set-top player TV setup.
John_Cline wrote on 10/12/2014, 9:18 PM
That simply isn't true, if you select "Dolby AC3 Pro" from within Vegas and go to "Customize Template" and set "Dialog Normalization" to -31 on the Audio Service tab and set the "Line Mode Profile" and "RF Mode Profile" on the Preprocessing tab to "None", then the resulting AC3 file will have exactly the same volume levels that you have mixed in Vegas.
johnmeyer wrote on 10/12/2014, 9:27 PM
+1 to John_Cline's post.

There are many reasons to use PCM, but getting better volume level is not one of them.

This has been discussed many dozens of times in this forum over the past ten years. If you follow John's suggestion (all three of the settings must be changed), your audio will sound great.
john_dennis wrote on 10/12/2014, 10:02 PM
http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/forums/ShowMessage.asp?ForumID=4&MessageID=866972

http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/forums/ShowMessage.asp?ForumID=4&MessageID=718901

http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/forums/ShowMessage.asp?ForumID=4&MessageID=703611


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videoITguy wrote on 10/12/2014, 10:04 PM
I am quite familiar with the corrective action over SCS programming defaults of Dolby AC Pro - and that does indeed give very good sound for a carefully produced soundtrack. Have used it for years.
However, due to the OP's comments, I am led to believe that he wants to drive hard volume probably pumped thru a stereo amp to hi-fidelity speakers from a set-top player. When the audio track is mostly about over normalized modulation in production - then PCM will do the trick. As long as you have the disc capacity to do it - might as well use it.
PeterWright wrote on 10/12/2014, 10:20 PM
Would it not be a good idea if SCS made the settings JC mentioned above DEFAULT for AC3, to avoid practically every individual using Vegas to get caught out this way.
Rob Franks wrote on 10/12/2014, 10:28 PM
" I am led to believe that he wants to drive hard volume probably pumped thru a stereo amp to hi-fidelity speakers from a set-top player."

I see nothing in the OP's statement indicating a wish for stereo. The issue is the softness.
Rob Franks wrote on 10/12/2014, 10:36 PM
"Would it not be a good idea if SCS made the settings JC mentioned above DEFAULT for AC3, to avoid practically every individual using Vegas to get caught out this way."

One man's idea of a good default value in this case is another man's thorn in the side. You can't win either way so why worry about it. Set your own default and save the template. I think the bigger problem here is that you simply have to know what you're doing when you use the pro encoder.
PeterWright wrote on 10/12/2014, 10:53 PM
Ok Rob, but surely it is not unreasonable to think that the default setting will produce the same volume after rendering as we set in Vegas.
wwjd wrote on 10/12/2014, 11:06 PM
k, finally got it. it was the -31, and NONE on the compression settings. I'm stunned the defaults don't give you exactly what you mixed out of the gate, but ok, whatever. This ruined my audio at my last festival as well, because I stupidly assumed my levels would be passed to the dvd burner program.

Now I know, and it is probaby too loud now - yet not distorting and still under peak.
I was able to create a 5.1 mix, burn it to disc, and play it back on my PS3 claiming that it is 5.1! So, that is very exciting.

Thanks for everyone's help on this. I actually did search the forum first (like usual), but must have stated it wrong, because I only found one thread and it didn't help.
farss wrote on 10/13/2014, 1:00 AM
[I]"Ok Rob, but surely it is not unreasonable to think that the default setting will produce the same volume after rendering as we set in Vegas."[/I]

I think this was covered in previous discussions.
-27dB is the default that the industry commonly uses, just how loud that'll sound depends on what the dialog normal value of the content really is plus how the decoder is setup.
What makes this difficult is we don't have the tools for mastering Dolby. If you want to do it right I think the cheapest is Surcode from Minnetonka at $1,975.

Bob.
Rob Franks wrote on 10/13/2014, 7:27 AM
"Ok Rob, but surely it is not unreasonable to think that the default setting will produce the same volume after rendering as we set in Vegas. "

Well....
VideoITguy does have a point with regard to dynamic range. One of the ways 5.1 sound is brought to life is by intentionally softening the center channel. This forces one to turn the volume up a little more to hear it. So now, when the bombs and bullets start flying from rear to front, or left to right... you REALLY hear them!

Long story short, this isn't a factor in rendering but rather in how 5.1 is encoded to produce a dynamic range for effect. One could even say that when you jack dialog normalization to -31 you are pretty much using the 5.1 encoder INCORRECTLY because you're killing that intended dynamic range. Of course it depends on the video itself. If you're producing a lecture in 5.1 then dynamic range really isn't an issue and it actually tends to get in the way. On the other hand, of you're shooting an action video then dynamic range is everything. Given that...who's idea of "default" is the correct one
PeterDuke wrote on 10/13/2014, 7:34 AM
"who's idea of "default" is the correct one"

I find the "no change" option a compelling one for the default, and if -31 gives no change then I like it.
Rob Franks wrote on 10/13/2014, 7:43 AM
"What makes this difficult is we don't have the tools for mastering Dolby. If you want to do it right I think the cheapest is Surcode from Minnetonka at $1,975."

Sorry Bob, I disagree.
The Pro encoder which comes with Vegas is indeed a pro level encoder which carries the official DOLBY stamp. The comparable Dolby digital encoder from Minnetonka (the one you would see if you ordered for Adobe) is nowhere near as detailed as ours and it costs something like $600

Vegas users don't actually know how well they have it in the 5.1 department. Again, the only problem I see with our encoder is that people simply don't truly understand how to use it.

This basic and cruddy thing from minnetonka costs $600:

PeterWright wrote on 10/13/2014, 8:08 AM
Don't forget that this is not just a 5.1 issue. ( I've never used 5.1 yet)

The same thing applies for Stereo audio. From memory it was Edward Troxel many years ago who came up with the way to make AC3 maintain the level set in Vegas, and I've gratefully had a "Maintain Level" preset within Vegas ever since.

When space on a DVD is not an issue I always use PCM Wave audio, where the standard setting does the job without tweaking.
wwjd wrote on 10/13/2014, 8:53 AM
I found the learning process on this really annoying: You mix something in vegas, render it out per Sony spec on their help page, open it in DVD Architect, burn and you get half volume?

I understand Dolby is a large, complex beast, and with good reason to be, but like everyone has mentioned: a more REALISTIC matching setting would be nice. The HELP section about -27 dialog nomi whatever didn't really SAY anything explaining the effect.

What I will do it burn about 5 different settings, then play them back direct comparing to a couple of commercial blu-ray movies, and find the sweet spot for the setting.

Thanks again for all the fast help, as usual, you guys rock, and are much appreciated!!!!!
Rob Franks wrote on 10/13/2014, 9:00 AM
"The same thing applies for Stereo audio. From memory it was Edward Troxel many years ago who came up with the way to make AC3 maintain the level set in Vegas, and I've gratefully had a "Maintain Level" preset within Vegas ever since."

I don't think there is any special trick to it, or there really doesn't need to be anyway. I set the 5.1 encoder the way I want and then save the template. I have a few different templates... "ACTION", "DRAMA".... etc.

In vegas I simply make sure all my sound tracks have been normalized to the max. The 5.1 encoder shapes the dynamic range for the occasion depending on the saved template I choose. It's sort of a 'simplton' way of doing things I suppose, because you easily do it the other way around, but it's the way I'm used to it.

Now surcode DOES have a pretty nice level adjustment system (which is sold at a different price level) which includes meters and the whole nine yards... but then as Bob notes, you're talking a couple thousand bucks and I'm not sure people would be willing to buy Vegas if the start price was $2500

Surcode Dolby Media meter:
videoITguy wrote on 10/13/2014, 9:05 AM
Okay wwjd, try and playback some commercial offerings for comparison. BUT watch out for your hookup - on the set-top player do you have a menu setting to push audio out through the connector to audio amp that essentially multi-plexs the Dolby OR are you feeding an amp where the decode is going to take place. Recall I said that Dolby is engineered to finesse the dynamic range of the soundtrack. Hence the best delivery on commercial discs has a soft passage and a loud bang separated BY a HUGE lot of decibels.
Be careful what you are hooking up and what you think you are comparing.
Rob Franks wrote on 10/13/2014, 9:11 AM
"What I will do it burn about 5 different settings, then play them back direct comparing to a couple of commercial blu-ray movies, and find the sweet spot for the setting."

Don't forget, your playback device also has a lot to do with it. Most 5.1 AVR's have methods of adjusting individual channel levels. If your channels levels are not properly adjusted to start with then YOUR version of a "sweet spot" could be a bit distorted.

Not really an issue of you're doing it for yourself, but it could make a difference if you play it back in a friend's AVR
wwjd wrote on 10/13/2014, 10:27 AM
thanks, videoITguy and robfranks, I see what you are saying.

Oddly, my system is all basic stereo: PS3 HDMI to stereo TV, TV out to old 2 channel stereo amp. (my computer has 5.1 speakers setup)

The PS3 will TELL ME it has a 5.1 disc - not sure how it sorts the audio - but they play back on my crappy old system in basic stereo. My disc seemed louder than a commercial disc I popped in, but it was not distorting... not sure I have time to burn new levels for this film fest.
Nor am I sure the fest can play 5.1 from BD to the theater system. I'm sending both, and recommending the STEREO over the 5.1, but am curious if the 5.1 would work. I'll work with them on that.

Last fest, my DVD sounded great, but so soft... other movies they played were louder and normal, and I felt I must have failed in making the disc somehow.... now I know why.
riredale wrote on 10/13/2014, 10:34 AM
Dolby Digital is a confusing topic. I think originally they wanted to create a metadata parameter (dialnorm) that an author could use such that all speech from all sources would be at a constant level. In reality, I think no one cared all that much about tweaking the volume control up or down on playback to a suitable level.

In addition, Dolby created Dynamic Range Compression parameters. The idea was that you took a movie that had lots of loud and soft stuff in the theater and when you played it back at home the sound would magically be compressed by a suitable amount. Here, too, I think they tried too hard--these days with all the fancy home theater setups a viewer wants all the dynamic range of the original production.

One can bypass all these good intentions by the Dolby folks by simply setting Dialnorm to -31 and the compressions to none, as already mentioned. And in any event, the Dolby encoder doesn't change a thing. The parameters are carried to the Dolby decoder, where compressions and such take place on the fly.

By the way, I learned the hard way a few years back that Dolby does some stuff that could come back to bite you. I did a Dolby Digital 2/2 soundtrack (2 front, 2 rear). On a windy day the rear two channels were occasionally driven above 0 on the Vegas timeline. Only after producing dozens of finished DVDs did I discover that the Dolby encoder looks at the rear channels in setting the volume of the front channels. In other words, every time a gust happened the front audio was dynamically reduced by maybe 30db, rendering the audio useless. I re-encoded the audio but only after passing the rear audio through a limiter. Then everything behaved properly.

Good summaries here and here.
rraud wrote on 10/13/2014, 10:49 AM
The Dolby Pro preset will render AC-3.. suitable for properly calibrated theaters.. but usually too low for DVD, BD and computers.
However this can be changed via the Dolby Pro "Custom> Preprocessing" menu, Change both 'Dynamic Range' parameters to "None" The file should then be rendered very close to the desired amplitude. Note.
I recommend leaving 2 or 3dBs of headroom for on-line/computer PB (around 15 LUFS integrated) and 5-6dBs for DVD/BD destined for the home. (around 21 LUFS integrated)