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Testing audiophile claims and myths

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by prog rock man, May 3, 2010.
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  1. bigshot
    Doggone! I thought that one was funny. My best jokes end up on the cutting room floor.

    The setup lines keep coming fast and furious.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  2. Steve999
    Having been through this many times, I have learned by experience that what you do is warp space-time so that the bullet takes a very slow and circuitous route, catch it between your thumb and index finger, throw it on the ground and quickly cover your ears so that you have some hearing protection by the time the sound of the gunshot reaches your ears.

    To quote @bfreedma (who is actually The Hornet!), “This is the Internet and I am Batman.”
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  3. GearMe
  4. bigshot
    I guess that makes me the Joker.
  5. sander99
    Thank you, I already figured something like that, I just wasn't sure.
  6. Steve999
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
    GearMe likes this.
  7. bigshot
    I may be the joker, but I don't smoke and I'm in bed by 11.
  8. Davesrose
    The last few pages have referred to TV as the ATSC/broadcast TV standards. But more and more....folks are just watching via streaming (such as me...who's only now watching "TV" for sports). I've upgraded my home theater system to include 4K OLED TV and 7.1.4 speakers...so I do appreciate "TV" original content coming from Netflix and Amazon that can have true 4K Dolby Vision and Atmos. However, I have found the loud ads are still alive and present. Most specifically: Vudu's free movies. It's completely computer controlled, so the add blocks come in very randomly. With older 2 channel source material, I've found I need to lower volume (maybe partly original levels and most content being a higher frequency): it forces me to lower volume and the ads aren't much louder. However, more modern 5.1 content with nice range and sound field....the ads are way louder when they spring up, and I need to mute immediately.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  9. TheSonicTruth
    Soooo... Which of the two - 2ch or 5.1 - is worse in that regard? :thinking:confused
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  10. Davesrose
    Well in the situation I mentioned (watching older 2.0 movies vs more modern 5.1 movies with Vudu) my discussion was about volume differences with ads. Overall, I've found the 2.0 movies also have a type of harsh sound to them (they're more dialogue centric, but also more "grating" than say mono channel with DD 5.1). Just going from hearing, it seems there's mainly content in the mids, and I lower my volume -10DB. When ads hit with this content, I don't feel such a great discrepancy to need to mute or lower volume immediately. However, with 5.1, I don't lower volume for the content...and then when ads come on, they're pretty blaring! This isn't a criticism of the content, but a modern example of disparity between "TV content" vs ads (albeit streaming services).
  11. Steve999
    You think you are confused. I am sitting here with four remotes trying different permutations of, shall we say, signal flow. If I get a red Dolby symbol on my receiver I am pretty sure the receiver is getting the original digital source signal. If you turn features of various things on and off you make the copyright and licensing detection schemes unhappy and then the receiver gets a two-channel pcm signal to play with instead of a Dolby Digital signal. The permutations of what you can and cannot do depending on the signal path and features of the various program source devices is completely mind-boggling. I could write 20 pages on it, and I've barely scratched the surface. For example if I choose to make my TV speaker available for use, even if I don't turn the volume up on the TV, the TV will only send a PCM two-channel digital signal out to the receiver. However, if I disable the TV speaker, and do everything else just so, the TV will send the original Dolby Digital signal to the receiver, and I will get the pretty red Dolby Digital symbol. The resulting different combinations of options in sound processing between something like a Roku or an Apple TV or apps and options on the TV or the A/V receiver are just incredibly confusing. I think I have it figured out by intuition now but to document it or describe the myriad options and trade-offs would be extremely difficult. I wish there was a "just do whatever is best" button.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
    GearMe likes this.
  12. Davesrose
    My anecdote is even simpler: these impressions are watching Vudu from Apple 4K TV. It outputs either 2 ch PCM, 5.1 ch PCM, or Atmos.(unless you try to over-ride for it only outputting 5.1 DD all the time). After I setup my system, I was most surprised that apps on my LG TV can actually output Atmos to my Denon reciever (even though the TV doesn't have eARC...but I guess since Atmos can be carried via DD). But I think overall streaming output is still best with my Apple 4K TV (also compared with HTPC, which is great for downloaded/ripped files, and Roku Ultra which doesn't support Dolby Vision).
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  13. gregorio
    1. The specifications for theatrical film sound have always been different to the specs for TV sound, as obviously the little speakers in a TV can't cope with anywhere near the dynamic range that a say $100k theatrical sound system can. The new loudness based TV specs brings TV more in line with theatrical film but there's still roughly an 8dB - 10dB difference and before the TV loudness specs, the difference could in some cases be as much as 20dB (as you stated). With more modern films broadcast on TV, you typically are not hearing the original theatrical mix, you're most likely hearing the BluRay mix (which is typically only about 4dB quieter than the new TV specs) or an actual TV mix. Incidentally, a modern blockbuster may have 70 or so different sound mixes!

    2. That's because the reality of the situation is the exact opposite of what you (the consumer) and I (the programme maker) imagine it to be! Typically, us programme makers never get to meet the TV execs (with the exception of the producer and possibly director), the first time I did was when working on a particularly high budget programme and the execs visited the dubbing theatre, presumably because they were somewhat nervous about spending so much money, it was a somewhat shocking experience. They had no direct interest in the programme making process, in the artistic intent, the story we were telling or pretty much any other aspect that defined my job, in fact the opposite, they seemed to dislike it! Eventually I understood what perhaps should have been obvious - to a TV exec, the programmes/films they broadcast are little more than a "necessary evil". To buy TV content obviously costs the execs considerable amounts of money, it's an unwanted but unavoidable expense that they'll never directly recoup. Where they actually make money is from selling the advertising time/space between the programme/s and therefore, that's what they're really interest in. The only have any interest in the programmes themselves, in terms of how they affect their advertising slots. To respond to your point then, even though consumers found it annoying, the data (of which there was/is a great deal) demonstrated that louder ads grabbed consumers' attention more than quieter ones and TV execs are always going to do what the advertisers want because that is where their revenue comes from. They were never unilaterally or voluntarily going to "do something about it" and as the global TV advertising market is worth several hundred billion (roughly 10x the global theatrical film market), they (the advertisers and to a lesser extent the broadcasters) actively lobbied against any proposal which they thought might threaten it. It took a "perfect storm" set of circumstances for it to finally change.

    1. The ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee, specifically the ATSC 85/A) covers the broadcast TV loudness specs for the USA, while in the EU we have the EBU (European Broadcast Union) R128 specs but as both are based on the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) recommendations, specifically ITU BS. 1770, they are very similar and other countries who've implemented loudness specs have adopted one of these two specifications. For example, Canada and Australia have adopted the ATSC 85/A specs and like the USA, as an Act of Law.

    2. Where the loudness specs are an Act of Law, the law only covers broadcasters/cable distribution content providers, not online streaming services. If the law applied to online content it would effectively kill YouTube, Vimeo, vBlogs and any other consumer/amateur generated video content posted publicly.
    2a. Older 2 channel material would have been created under the previous paradigm of level based specifications. As they were based on levels, rather than loudness, the same peak level can be made to sound louder, with EQ, compression and other processes that affect the perception of loudness. The loudness based specs actually allow higher peak levels than previously but overall (as an average), is quieter than previously (which allows for the larger dynamic range). The difference in volume (on unregulated distribution platforms) between older content and adverts is therefore almost certain to be less than the difference between content compliant with loudness specs and the adverts.

    castleofargh likes this.
  14. TheSonicTruth
    I thought YT, Spotify, and other streaming services already had their own loudness standards, like -12 or -16LUFS or something. Automatical levelling would occur when viewers played stuff off them.

    And how would standardized loudness "kill" streamers? I for one hate it when I'm listening to a YT playlist, and I constantly have to adjust volume after every 1-2 songs, or, get blasted out by a commercial(commercials were worst thing ever to happen to YT!)
  15. KeithEmo
    I think quite a few people are unclear about exactly what we're talking about in terms of things like "loudness standards".
    When we're talking about listening to things in your own home, on your own TV, or your own speakers or headphones, there are no "loudness limits" whatsoever.
    It may be possible to regulate how loud a theater, or a concert hall, is allowed to set their sound system, but nobody can regulate how loud your speakers or headphones can go.
    Nobody can prevent you from buying huge speakers, huge amplifiers, and turning up the Nascar show so the cars are just as loud on TV as they were in person.
    Or turning your headphones up loud enugh to match the levels of a real rock concert - or a real battlefield.
    (The loudest spots on a digital recording will be at or near "0 dB" - which will play however loudly you set your system to play it.)

    What we're talking about here are things like percieved loudness and dynamic range.

    For example, it's physically impossible to "jack up the maximum level of TV commercials so they're ridiculously loud" (they can only play as loudly as your TV is able to play them).
    What they were doing was reducing the levels of the normal dialog, so you'd turn the volume up, so, when the commercials came on, they were relatively very loud.
    Or deliberately cutting down the bass, and boosting the midrange, so the commercials would sound louder and more insistent, even at the same maximum peak dB SPL level.
    Or using dynamic compression to raise the average level.
    (The loudest things stay the same loudness. But the quietest things, and the middle things, are boosted, so the average level is increased.)
    If you use a lot more "upwards compression" on the commercials than on the regular show dialog you can make their average level relatively a lot louder.
    (Arguably, in "the bad old days", they were deliberately playing the show very quietly... so they could "trick you" into turning the volume way up... so they could make the commercials louder.)

    I should also point out that, in reality, almost nobody wants dynamic range that's actually realistic.
    If Dirty Harry fired that 44 Magnum a half dozen times in that office, and the movie actually played a real recording without compression, you wouldn't have to worry about the dialog.
    Because, if you weren't wearing hearing protection, you wouldn't hear much of anything for several minutes - and might well suffer permanent hearing damage.
    And, yes, there's a reason why the guys you see on those Nascar pit videos are all wearing ear protection.
    And you don't even want to think about how loud a real jet engine at close range, or a rocket blastoff, or a grenade going off, or even a gunshot, really is.
    Therefore, in most cases, what we really want is an intelligent compromise between "real", and "what will deliver a sense of realism".

    I have a suggestion - for anyone who's never done it before.....

    Today, you can purchase a small digital recorder, with built in coincident stereo microphones, for a few hundred dollars (from folks like Zoom, and Tascam, and Roland, among many others.)
    These little devices are actually capable of recording with quite good fidelity.
    In other words, just turn it on, and it will do a pretty good job of recording exactly what's going on - with reasonably low distortion and flat frequency response.
    Ask a buddy who plays at your local bar if you can record him some night...
    Or offer to record a few choir performances for your local church pastor...
    Try it a few times and you'll find out very quickly how difficult it is to "just make a recording that sounds like the real thing"...
    You'll be amazed at how work, and editing, and adjusting, will be needed to make a recording that even remotely sounds like you didn't alter it...

    It's proper etiquette, and also legally a good idea, to ask before recording someone...
    However, these days, when everyone has a phone with a video camera and a recorder, you might be surprised how many bar bands and church pastors will welcome
    "a good quality recording so they can hear what they sound like and maybe post it on their web page".
    (You will usually find people more receptive if you promise them a copy of the final edited recording - and promise not to sell it or use it commercially.)
    You may find it quite enlightening exactly how much work goes into "making a simple recording that sounds natural".

    analogsurviver likes this.
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