wot: Comercial BlueRay disc audio volume fail.

paul_w wrote on 12/15/2011, 8:29 AM
Needed a break so I sat down to watch "Super 8" on BlueRay last night (just newly released). A brilliant movie directed by JJ Abrams. Loved the cinamatic scenes, direction, story, anamorphic blue streaks (think star trek), visually stunning. And a happy ending.
Then the problem. Massive changes in volume of the audio track. Dialog was VERY quiet and then came the explosions and gun shots nearly shaking the house down. So you had to turn up the volume enough just to hear what was being said followed by extremily loud effects. That can't be right.
What i did notice is the audio track is encoded using Dolby 7.1 whereas my audio setup is a simple left/right from the bluray player to a stereo amp. Is that the problem? Im thinking maybe i need a decoder to get the correct level mix. But what a shocker, i like realism but when you see an explosion, you dont really want the roof to cave in.

Open to thoughts...



musicvid10 wrote on 12/15/2011, 9:56 AM
What you describe is similar to what happens when you plug a digital output from a player into an analog receiver input.

7.1 digital is supposed to be backwards compatibly with Dolby Digital 5.1 receivers.
paul_w wrote on 12/15/2011, 10:01 AM
No, its analog all the way from the player to amp (no receiver). Very simple stereo left rights. Yes, i thought 7.1 was backwards compatable too, but this doesnt sound like it at all.
musicvid10 wrote on 12/15/2011, 10:18 AM
Is there an audio selection somewhere in the disc menu?
Is analog stereo selected in the player setup?
paul_w wrote on 12/15/2011, 10:22 AM
The disc menu shows audio settings for 5.1 but only in other languages. English is only shown as 7.1 and thats it.
The player settings, i will investigate further later but i have never had this problem before with other bluray discs, they aways play and sound fine.
First time this has happened.

Opampman wrote on 12/15/2011, 10:41 AM
Don't know if you saw Super 8 in the theater or not, but the audio track had an incredible dynamic range. I remember the train wreck actually vibrated my chair and my insides. Remember 16bit recordings can have 96dB of dynamic range and 24bit around 144dB of dynamic range. Not that the whole range is used but what you describe is not unbeliveable and may be the result of taking advantage of more of the available dynamic range. This can be annoying in your home set-up. I usually wait until no one else is in the house, set the audio level to where dialogue is acceptable and let the explosions rattle the windows...I love it but my wife would be playing AGC with the remote volume control reducing the dynamic range to 10 to 12 dB. lol

paul_w wrote on 12/15/2011, 12:31 PM
Well i just went through all the audio settings in the player and there is nothing i can adjust. Its PCM Stereo at 48khz sample rate. So it should be working. The only other setting i can see is DRC which is currently off. It says "reduces sudden volume increases.." Sounds like an AGC to me. But i will test it.
Kent, actually no, i have not seen this at the cinema, and i think its fine to have trouser flapping bass in a place like that, very cool, but why at home when i cant even hear what people are saying. Seems extreme to me.
The train wreck,.... you're not kidding, that was LOUD. While at the same time, the dialog was barely intelligable. I should get a sound level meter on this an take some notes!
Is this the future of bluray audio??? we like dynamic range, but please.

Opampman wrote on 12/15/2011, 1:35 PM
I was having a problem with virtually all discs and even live TV - especially 5.1 football games. Everything sounded great except I could hardly hear the dialogue on movies, regular and Blu-ray, and the announcers on the football game were virtually non-existant. I pulled my hair out for weeks going thru all the level and setting on the DVD player, the home theater amp and the TV set-top box and could not fix the problem. Then one day by accident, I discovered the center channel speaker had a connection disconnected. The center channel and the piezo tweeter were not working. Now, I would have thought having the front left and right speakers connected as in your set-up would have carried the center channel OK but it didn't. I reconnected the center channel and everything worked properly. I could hear the announcers on football over the crowd noise and the dialogue came thru fine on movies. Since you have analog left and right not sure how this would apply, but it sounds exactly like what I experienced w/o the center channel.

farss wrote on 12/15/2011, 1:46 PM
My old SD DVD players have a setting in the Dolby menu that controls the dynamics of Dolby playback. Been a while since I've delved into the menu but there's a couple of profiles such as "late night" to "cineama". For any of this to work the "Dial Normal" value has to be set correctly when the soundtrack was encoded.

Indeed the centre channel carries the dialog, same thing in the cinema. The spatial arrangement of the front left and right speakers in a surround system is different to the speakers in a stereo setup, well it should be. Without the centre channel speaker connected you end up with a hole in the middle of the sound field because the speakers are too far apart for stereo.

paul_w wrote on 12/15/2011, 2:04 PM
Well i can understand quite well if the center speaker was off that would indeed effect the dialog. But in my case like i said, its ultra-basic good old stereo left right so there is no center speaker. I am starting to think this is actually working the way it was intended. Bascially, its a huge dynamic range audio track. And the way it has been mixed suggests that when dramatic scenes occur like the train crash in this case, and also gun and rocket shots etc, these are intended to blow your socks off and try to damage your speakers!. But at home, evening viewing, and i do have neighbours next door, i cant have these levels.
However, I just tested the crash scene with the DRC enabled. This is a digital limiter in that is reduces loud changes in the audio. It actually helps! Its much more acceptable for normal listening and also by simply reducing the bass control on the amplifier a notch, i think we have a result. Taming the monster of extreme dynamic range.
But what i dont undertand is, why now? never needed to do this before with bluray discs.

Thanks everyone for your comments, it seems this is just the way it is.