Why is Dialogue Normalization used on multichannel home mixes of movies?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Kiko1974, May 8, 2018.

  1. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    That's something I've been wondering for some time,why is Dialogue Normalization used on home multichannel mixes on movies either on DTS-HD Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD/Atmos?
    Not only that, it changes on different movies and codecs.
    I've noticed that most DTS-HD Master Audio tracks use to have a value of +4 dB of Dialogue Normalization, and that changes on Dolby TrueHD/Atmos tracks that ranges from +1 dB to +4 dB.
    I don't understand why Dialogue Normalization is used and why seems to be necessary as the mixing engineer of the film adjusts all different levels of sound FX and dialogue on the final mix, yet most if not all home multichannel mixes use Dialogue Normalization.
    Even DTS on the instructions of its 2009 DTS HD Encoder Suit advices not to use attenuation and leave the level at -31 dBFS that leads to Dialogue Normalization being unused.
    Any idea about this subject?
    Thanks in advance for your replies.
     
  2. DaveySR

    DaveySR Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Overall, I think the engineers don't trust the average home video user to properly set up a multi-channel system.
    I feel they should just release the theatrical track, and include a "home theater mix", with whatever changes, if they feel it is absolutely necessary. A lot of these "home theater mixes" are usually aimed at TV speakers and sound bar setups, and are quite bland.
    Considering all the years that there have been supposed standards in the industry, from SMPTE, Dolby, THX etc., there is a lot of variation on home media, from overall volume level to dynamic range, from disc to disc. I've heard sound engineers explain their reasoning, but it is undermined by inconsistencies and suppositions.
    While they will all sound fine on your TV speakers, if you have spent some long green on a multi-channel set up, you end up with less than stellar sound because of these remixes IMO.
    Interestingly, I've also read that theatrical mixes are now beginning to change. The problem there is theater managers turning down faders due to complaints from customers that the sound is too loud. From what I understand, even these mixes are beginning to get reduced dynamic ranges, and dialogue boosting, or normalization due to the reduced theater volume so that the dialogue doesn't get lost. If there are complaints about volume at reference level, the culprit is bad calibration of the room in the first place. It seems that they just can't get this right. We're beginning to see the same problems that led to theater alignment programs 30+ years ago, because it is just too much of a complication to do it all properly, or more likely.. too expensive.
     
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  3. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I miss the days of TAP (THX Aligment program) from the 90's,watching Independence Day, Saving Private Ryan or Gladiator on a TAP theater were experiences I'll never forget. Every time I go to the movies I notice, with exceptions, that mixes as you well said are bland and sometimes unvolving and lacking the deep bass impact I used to hear on the second half of the 90's and early 90's.
    Regarding home mixes of movies, The Last Jedi on UHD BD is one of my greatest disappointments on all my 20 something years of Home Theatre. This mix should be outstanding and it's right the opposite, it's anemic.
     
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  4. DaveySR

    DaveySR Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I mentioned this in another thread I believe, that THX recently certified Cinemark's XD premium theaters. I haven't had a chance to hear them, mainly because the movies they've shown in the XD theaters haven't been my cup of tea. I last visited one to see Alien Covenant, but that was before the THX certification, though the sound was excellent.
     
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  5. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    There was a few TAP theaters in my area (Southern Spain) in the 90's and early 2000's and their sound was excellent, I still remember the bass punching my chest on Stargate when at the beginning they were lifting the stargate with ropes or on Outbreak when they through the bomb on the African village infected with Motaba virus, or the destruction of Alderaan and the Death Star on the 1997 Especial Edition of Star Wars, now sometimes I have the feeling that they are limiting the low frequencies on both cinema and home mixes of movies or the Loudness Wars is finally getting to movie mixes and little by little and without us movie goers and movie discs buyers noticing they are compressing dinamic range on movies. Good examples of this could be (and the winner is...) Star Wars The Last Jedi, Star Wars The Force Awakens (it's better than TLJ but no demo material by any means), Independence Day Resurgence (the original from 1996 trounces it on this regard) or Terminator Genisys 'though it has its moments is also a weak mix.
    If movie studios want to do a "near field" home mix of a movie I think the original theatrical mix should be included. Criterion does it, The Game includes both a near field mix and the original theatrical mix, and so does Arrow with movies like Ronin, The Thing or Rollerball.
     
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  6. DaveySR

    DaveySR Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I understand the reason they do the near-field mixes, but I still don't agree with it. They say they adhere to the theatrical mix when doing the near-field, but they are skewed too far toward the lowest common denominator home sound setups.

    I have The Game also, and I was hoping Criterion would continue in this manner of including the dynamic theatrical soundtrack, but they scrapped that idea for Malick's "The New World" at the last minute. When disc space gets tight the first thing to go is alternate soundtracks. Those that notice these things are the ones that suffer. Do you think the average person watching a movie at home would care, or be able to tell, if the mix was the dynamic theatrical or a "special" home video mix? The idea is laughable.
     
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  7. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Not for me. When I play my Criterion BD of The Game or Arrow's The Thing or Ronin, I always go for the theatrical mix. On the case of Arrow's The Thing I choose the 4.1 mix which I think must be the 70 mm discreet mix, even with its mono surround it trounces the other mixes. The newly (???) 5.1 mix sounds boring and anemic to me.
    Regarding Ronin and The Game it's a night and day between the original theatrical mixes and the "civilized for home" mixes, being the original theatrical mixes the clear winner, they are really dinamic and with real deep bass.
     
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  8. DaveySR

    DaveySR Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I do the same thing. :laugh: We are in total agreement. That's why I love the Alien Anthology set with the wealth of choices for the first two films especially.
     
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  9. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I forgot about the Alien films. I do the same for the first two, I play the original theatrical mixes, I don't like those newly created 5.1 mixes, they use to sound unimpresive, dull and fake when they add new sound effects.
     
  10. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    I can tell, and I think a special home video mix is necessary -- at least one done to a TV reference level of 82dB.
     
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  11. DaveySR

    DaveySR Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Fair enough, but I was referring to Joe Sixpack, the wife and kids, which is the vast majority watching home video, not pros or enthusiasts.
    Tell me more about TV reference level of 82dB.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
  12. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    Average level reference for home TV environments, with inbuilt TV speakers. Dialogue Normalization is used on multichannel home mixes of movies for very good reasons. One is to keep the peace in homes. Loud multichannel effects way over the dialogue, is not conducive to keeping the peace in families. TOO LOUD!!! Also risks damaging most home theater speakers and your amplifier going into oscillation. Also, your Atmos theater at home does not have 2,100 real watts or more of QSC separate power amplifiers, main speakers bigger than your refrigerator/freezer which weigh 200 pounds or more each, Atmos surround speakers the size of say, Klipsch Heresy III and a cavernous space to install it in, and set up by engineers who know cinema acoustics, and your processor is not quite what the cinema has. And most everybody's home theatre save for the upper class is played at way quieter volumes in normal use.
     
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  13. DaveySR

    DaveySR Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I had no idea that TV speakers would be calibrated to play at 82dB. I can't imagine they would play continuously at that level without distortion.
    I have a 7.1 set up with speakers behind the screen. I'm also one of those nuts with pro cinema speakers and amps and a dedicated room, but as I said earlier, I understand why they do them, just include an alternate more dynamic track such as Criterion did with The Game.
     
  14. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    The reference level in TV suites is monitored usually with the Crown D75 power amp and JBL 4311b speakers, I wish there were TV speakers used in TV audio suites as a level reference.
     
  15. DaveySR

    DaveySR Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I initially tried setting everything at 85dB reference, but it was practically unbearable. I'm at 75dB reference now, which is more than enough for the room.
     
  16. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
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  17. DaveySR

    DaveySR Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
  18. Al Kuenster

    Al Kuenster Forum Resident

    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV - US
    82dB is way too loud for me, I listen to films and music in the -25 to -40 dB
     
  19. Al Kuenster

    Al Kuenster Forum Resident

    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV - US
    I'm thinking of the dial on my AVR not actual decibels, duh!
     
  20. DaveySR

    DaveySR Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    A lot of the effect of subtle atmospheric sounds can be missed with levels too far below reference. A film like Days of Heaven comes to mind.
     

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