Thanks again for another great review Ralph!
As for my thoughts on the movie after viewing it twice:
I was never a huge fan of the old movie (or TV series). Always more of a Star Wars (SW) than Star Trek (ST) fan
, but I have seen most of the ST movies at some time or another.
That said, I've actually enjoyed the reboot series. I liked the first reboot and enjoyed the overall movie in this latest iteration. Visuals were great, and for a post-processed 3D film, I thought the 3D was actually pretty good (miles ahead of Clash Of The Titans post-processed 3D without a doubt). The hot topic though, (and for good reason IMHO) is the audio.
This is one of the loudest sounding movies I've watched to date, in that the average levels sound a lot louder than the average levels in just about any movie I've ever watched (The Dark Knight Rises-TDKR was another Loud Fidelity notable). I'm also one of the folks who is bothered by distortion/clipping and noticed it in this soundtrack too (as well as in Tron Legacy and a few other movies). The distortion/clipping I hear is NOT like what thrang posted in the zip file. It is along the lines of what is heard in the demo HERE:
Play that demo video on your HT system and see if you can clearly hear the differences between the 'Clean', 'Digital clipping' and 'Analogue clipping'. The differences might not even be apparent on some setups at your normal listening levels (different setups will be more or less revealing of distortion/clipping. I noticed this when I tried switching between different modes and processing on the avr (some of the processing modes in the avr other than a straight decode, such as THX Cinema and the PL modes and what not made the clipping in that demo less obvious. It was still there, but not as easily heard). In addition, different people have different sensitivity to distortion/clipping the way different folks have different sensitivities to the Rainbow Effect of DLP displays. Some are more bothered by it, some don't really notice it.
I noticed the clipping in numerous scenes in STID, including the Vengeance crash. Between STID and TDKR, it feels like the Loudness Wars might have come to movie soundtracks, where they're making compromises in other areas (lowest frequency extension, and running into digital clipping and distortion) in order to be able to raise overall levels. I tried watching STID at my usual -5db from THX Reference and ended up turning it down to -15db and it still sounded very loud bot because it's mixed loud and because the harshness of the distortion made it seem louder ( I DO watch some movies at THX Reference, but per FilmMixer's subjective opinions, mixing movie audio at Todd AO, -5db on hos calibrated home setup sounds closer to him to what the Reference calibrated Todd AO room sounds like than '0' on his HT setup, which he says sounds a little louder than Reference).
As for my review audio system (and the questionnaire):
- Reference audio for STID: definitely NO
- Oppo BDP-93 (Bitstream)
- Onkyo 5008 (straight decode to 5.1 with Audyssey XT32 calibration)
- 3 x Emotiva XPA-1 for the LCR (1000 watts @ 4ohms for the LF & RF, 500watts @ 8ohms for the CC) and a Crown XLS-2500 for the Surrounds (500wpc @ 8ohms).
- Legacy Audio Focus SE's for the LR (manufacturer rated sensitivity 95.4db/w/m)
- Boston Acoustics E70 for the CC (manufacturer rated sensitivity 90db/w/m)
- Boston Acoustics E100's for the surrounds (manufacturer rated sensitivity 89db/w/m)
- 2 x Seaton Submersive HP's
- MLP distance of 10 feet
- Main Volume at -5 THX Reference
With THX Reference levels requiring 105db from the satellites (and 115db from the subwoofers), my mains at their rated sensitivity need 90 watts to hit Reference levels at my MLP, the CC needs 237 watts and the surrounds need 106 watts based on their sensitivities and distances to the MLP, so I have no shortage of power and I'm easily within the speakers power handling limits. I'm stating all this to explain that the distortion is not due to overdriving the system. I heard the distortion clearly at -5db, and it was still clearly audible (but not as loud obviously), at -15db. Once again, to clarify, the clipping is NOT like that popping heard in thrang's zip file, it is similar to what is heard in the demo linked above.
BTW, to all those folks stating that their normal listening levels are -24db or some such and that they watched STID at -34db etc., I think it's important to state if you are using Dynamic Compression modes like Audyssey's Dynamic Volume or Loudness Plus, Midnight mode etc. and or volume compensation modes like Audyssey's Dynamic EQ. IMO, with a system properly calibrated to produce THX Reference at the MLP (if it's actually even truly capable of THX Reference maximum SPLs which MANY setups aren't), a Main Volume of -25db with NO dynamic compression or compensation of any sort (like Audyssey's Dynamic Volume, Dynamic EQ or any similar modes) is quite soft/low and a -35db Main Volume would make dialogue levels VERY low, and without anything like Dynamic EQ, bass and LFE is significantly neutered.