Star Trek: Into Darkness in Dolby Atmos - AVS Forum
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Old 05-21-2013, 05:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Last night, I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness in the AMC Burbank 16 ETX theater with a Dolby Atmos sound system and a single Christie CP4230 4K projector outfitted with RealD XL 3D firing onto a 65-foot screen. As with virtually all digital cinema today, the DCP (digital cinema package) file was 2K, which the projector upscaled to 4K.

 

 

The 3D was a post-production conversion by Stereo D, which also did the various Marvel Avenger movies, Titanic, and Jurassic Park, and I thought it looked great. The movie was obviously shot with 3D conversion in mind, because there were plenty of images that were made for it—the warp-speed effect, jumping off cliffs and buildings, the long cargo bay in the USS Vengeance, things flying all over the place. The 3D effect was more obvious in some scenes than others, but that didn't bother me at all, and I rarely noticed a cardboard-cutout effect.

 

Speaking of things flying all over the place, those moments were well served by the Dolby Atmos mix. In the opening scene, Kirk and McCoy are being chased by primitives who fire arrows at them, and the sound of those arrows flying all around was—well, all around. And there are plenty of other scenes with sounds located through the hemispherical soundfield. I really enjoy Dolby Atmos, and I'm glad it's being installed in more theaters around the country—I think it's in about 100 theaters so far, and I highly recommend you find one near you if possible.

 

Unfortunately, the sound levels were pretty brutal—not the fault of Dolby Atmos per se, but an all-too-common trend in commercial cinemas today. I measured the sound levels with my Larson Davis 720 logging SPL meter, and the average level over two and a half hours (including the trailers) was 84.7 dBA with a highest maximum level of 99.4 dBA. The level exceeded 89.4 dBA 10 percent of the time, 83.4 dBA 33 percent of the time, and 78.2 dBA 50 percent of the time. The average level is within the OSHA standard, which many experts—including myself—believe is too high to begin with. In any event, I wore my custom-molded earplugs (-25 dB) throughout and Bose QC15 noise-cancelling headphones during the really loud parts, of which there were many, especially low-frequency blasts from the subwoofers.

 

Spoiler Alert

 

If you haven't seen Star Trek: Into Darkness yet and you don't want any spoilers, stop reading now.

 

I'm a dedicated fan of the entire Star Trek franchise, and I really liked J.J. Abrams' first foray into that world. The new one, however, left me somewhat disappointed. There are many references and quotes from the various series and movies, which are undoubtedly meant to appeal to hard-core Trekkers, but most of them felt entirely gratuitous with no real connection to the movie at hand.

 

Of those that are integral to the plot, many are kinda ridiculous. For example, Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) is revived from 300 years of cryosleep and forced to work on advanced weapons systems by holding the rest of his suspended crew hostage? Even if he is intellectually superior, he was three centuries behind on technology. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) is a weapons specialist? The character's first appearance in Wrath of Khan was as a biologist; it was Khan who wanted to pervert the Genesis device into a weapon.

 

Granted, Into Darkness is sort of an alternate Wrath of Khan, but to have Kirk and Spock exactly reverse their roles in the climax (Kirk saves the ship and dies of radiation exposure in a sealed compartment while Spock looks on helplessly) with much the same dialog was way too obvious for me. Of course, Kirk is brought back to life—in this case, with a serum developed by Dr. McCoy from Khan's "super blood"; at least the next movie isn't going to be The Search for Kirk!

 

On the whole, I remain very pleased with the new casting—Chris Pine (Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldana (Uhura), Karl Urban (McCoy), Simon Pegg (Scotty), John Cho (Sulu), and Anton Yelchin (Chekov) all portray their characters beautifully, though I still object to the romantic relationship between Spock and Uhura, which makes no sense to me. Peter Weller is great as the evil Admiral Marcus (and father of Carol Marcus), and Benedict Cumberbatch turns in a finely wrought performance as Khan, though his British accent is less believable coming from an Indian prince than Ricardo Montalban's less-specific Indo-European speech pattern in the same role a generation earlier.

 

Despite its shortcomings, Star Trek: Into Darkness is a fun action flick with beautiful imagery and good 3D (if you like 3D). And if you can, see it in a Dolby Atmos theater—that alone is worth the price of admission. Just be sure to bring earplugs!


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Old 05-21-2013, 06:38 PM
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Having seen this in the same ETX theater on 5/16, it was very disappointing because it was not in Dolby Atmos nor was it a laser projection. As to how one would know those significant facts, I have no idea. However, the IMAX screen in Universal was superior in terms of image size and brightness to what I saw and heard on 5/16. AMC should get their story straight because the ETX theater, as well as the IMAX, come at a premium ticket price. Given no Dolby Atmos or no laser projection, there is no point in going to the ETX theater.
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Old 05-21-2013, 06:53 PM
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Thanks for the report Scott. I am looking forward to seeing this when it hits blu ray.

As far as your earplugs comment, just curious what levels do you typically listen at for movies in your HT relative to reference level?

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Old 05-21-2013, 06:58 PM
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Saw this in a regular theater and found the center to be mixed very loud and shrill. Phaser sound effects were especially brutal. A friend at a different theater felt the same.
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:06 PM
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Saw this at the ETX AMC Atmos theater in Lake Buena Vista Fl. ( Downtown Disney). I have to agree that is was very loud. It seemed to be louder than Iron Man3 in same said theater. I will say the scene at the beginning of the film when the Enterprise ascended from underwater was incredible. It felt like you were on the Enterprise in that particular scene. Wow. Overall I love the Atmos experience. I just wish I did not have to drive an hour and a half to get to it. Atmos has me driving that far to experience it. That's how incredible the audio experience is for me.

Based on fookoos thread above I am assuming this was in Dolby Atmos but now come to think of it I did not see the Dolby Atmos preview that I saw with Brave and Iron Man3. Have I been tricked??? I most certainly paid a premium price for this feature.
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:27 PM
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I agree the special effects and sound was good but this movie had a terrible plot and I found a lot of the one-liner jokes to be annoying. 2009 Star trek had a way better plot in my opinion.
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fookoo_2010 View Post

Having seen this in the same ETX theater on 5/16, it was very disappointing because it was not in Dolby Atmos nor was it a laser projection. As to how one would know those significant facts, I have no idea. However, the IMAX screen in Universal was superior in terms of image size and brightness to what I saw and heard on 5/16. AMC should get their story straight because the ETX theater, as well as the IMAX, come at a premium ticket price. Given no Dolby Atmos or no laser projection, there is no point in going to the ETX theater.

So if there is no Atmos or Laser in the ETX theater in Burbank you think its not up to par? Are you kidding?
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:14 PM
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Our local iMax here uses the Klipsch professional line... I saw star trek the other night and it was SUPERB!

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Old 05-21-2013, 08:25 PM
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Scott,

I appreciate your reports on the sound levels. Even as someone who works in movie sound post production I find I want to protect my ears from the Rock-Concert type levels in many commercial theaters. I recently went to see Iron Man 3 at my local theater and it seemed twice as loud and brutal as any past movie in my experience. Your review of Star Trek as even more bombastic is ominous so I'll be sure to bring my musician's ear plugs (same custom mold design as you no doubt use...for anyone wondering about these they reduce the sound level while maintaining much more even sound clarity than normal earplugs - I'd think my hearing would have suffered much more from playing in a band years ago without them).
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:47 PM
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Roger on the disturbing trend on loudness. My last encounter in an IMAX theater with Dark Knight Rises was close to intolerable.
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Old 05-21-2013, 09:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fookoo_2010 View Post

Having seen this in the same ETX theater on 5/16, it was very disappointing because it was not in Dolby Atmos nor was it a laser projection. As to how one would know those significant facts, I have no idea. However, the IMAX screen in Universal was superior in terms of image size and brightness to what I saw and heard on 5/16. AMC should get their story straight because the ETX theater, as well as the IMAX, come at a premium ticket price. Given no Dolby Atmos or no laser projection, there is no point in going to the ETX theater.

Before I went, I called the theater and asked if it was an actual Atmos soundtrack, which the customer-service rep assured me it was. Also, ST: Into Darkness is listed among the movies mixed in Atmos on Dolby's website:

 

http://www.dolby.com/us/en/consumer/content/movie/release/dolby-atmos-movies.html

 

Finally, I had lunch last week with a film mixer, who verified that the movie was mixed in Atmos. Plus, I heard what I heard, so I'm convinced it was, indeed, Atmos.

 

As for laser projection, that was only in the Burbank ETX theater for one week as an experiment; see my writeup here:

 

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1466602/first-commercial-3d-presentation-with-laser-projector


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Old 05-21-2013, 09:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R Harkness View Post

Scott,

I appreciate your reports on the sound levels. Even as someone who works in movie sound post production I find I want to protect my ears from the Rock-Concert type levels in many commercial theaters. I recently went to see Iron Man 3 at my local theater and it seemed twice as loud and brutal as any past movie in my experience. Your review of Star Trek as even more bombastic is ominous so I'll be sure to bring my musician's ear plugs (same custom mold design as you no doubt use...for anyone wondering about these they reduce the sound level while maintaining much more even sound clarity than normal earplugs - I'd think my hearing would have suffered much more from playing in a band years ago without them).


Actually, Iron Man 3 was even louder when I saw it in Imax. The average level over 2.5 hours was 87.9, highest maximum was 102.8. BTW, good man for investing in musician's ear plugs, indeed the same as I have.


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Old 05-21-2013, 09:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Toe View Post

Thanks for the report Scott. I am looking forward to seeing this when it hits blu ray.

As far as your earplugs comment, just curious what levels do you typically listen at for movies in your HT relative to reference level?


Lower than reference level, that's for sure! When I go to Tom Norton's to see a movie, we always argue about the level; he likes it higher than I do.


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Old 05-21-2013, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by david0406 View Post

Saw this at the ETX AMC Atmos theater in Lake Buena Vista Fl. ( Downtown Disney). I have to agree that is was very loud. It seemed to be louder than Iron Man3 in same said theater. I will say the scene at the beginning of the film when the Enterprise ascended from underwater was incredible. It felt like you were on the Enterprise in that particular scene. Wow. Overall I love the Atmos experience. I just wish I did not have to drive an hour and a half to get to it. Atmos has me driving that far to experience it. That's how incredible the audio experience is for me.

Based on fookoos thread above I am assuming this was in Dolby Atmos but now come to think of it I did not see the Dolby Atmos preview that I saw with Brave and Iron Man3. Have I been tricked??? I most certainly paid a premium price for this feature.


I don't think you were tricked; see my reply to fookoo_2010.


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Old 05-21-2013, 10:06 PM
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I just saw Star Trek tonight in Dolby Atmos (RPX-3D) at the Regal-13 in NYC. Before the film there
was a short Dolby Atmos demo that was pretty amazing. I have to agree Star Trek got very very loud at times.
The positional sound was incredible but there were a few times I felt uncomfortable with the extreamly loud explosions. Still if you can find a theater (only 2 w/ Dolby Atmos in NYC) it's worth checking out, just bring
ear plugs!!!
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:18 PM
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LOUD! Precisely why I wait until it comes out in Blu-ray. At home, My Volume, My PQ and My Pause Button when washroom or snacks are required!
Local IMAX is Absolutely Terrible! - Loud Volumes, Blurring, and nothing close (Except for Hugeness) to the Quality from My Home System!
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:20 PM
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I am really looking forward to the day we can bring Atmos home. Will be nice to adjust the volume to a level in which you can really enjoy the sound panning round you.
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:32 PM
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I just got home from watching it in Plano, TX at a Cinemark XD theater with 3D and Dolby Atmos (I love it when my work travels take me to a nice theater). The very opening piece, and I mean even before the "running" part, you could really hear the details of sound coming from overhead.

The theater was at a good volume level and not shrill or anything. 3D is something that I can live without, but it was done nicely in this flick.

The worst thing about the movie... More so that the way too many one-liners and "throwbacks" to previous movies, was J.J. Abrams lens flare crap. I mean, come on. It seemed like EVERY scene had a LOT of lens flare. Specially when onboard the Enterprise. Someone needs to limit that guys use of the artificial lens flare tool in post production. It was not a "signature" J.J. Abrams thing when used to the extent it was in Star Trek : ITD.

That was more distracting that anything else.
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by p5browne View Post

LOUD! Precisely why I wait until it comes out in Blu-ray. At home, My Volume, My PQ and My Pause Button when washroom or snacks are required!
Local IMAX is Absolutely Terrible! - Loud Volumes, Blurring, and nothing close (Except for Hugeness) to the Quality from My Home System!


Wow better quality than Imax at home. Must be impressive?
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Old 05-21-2013, 11:11 PM
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I just got home from watching it in Plano, TX at a Cinemark XD theater with 3D and Dolby Atmos (I love it when my work travels take me to a nice theater).

Next time you may want to try the Look Theater in Addison (about 7 miles south from the Cinemark you were at). Their "Evolution" theater has Atmos with Klipsch speakers and you can also pick your seat in advance so no lines at all. They also play 2 Atmos sound demos before each movie (Leaf and "unfolding" one).
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Old 05-21-2013, 11:15 PM
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Wow better quality than Imax at home. Must be impressive?

Not all IMAX theaters are equal and out side of share size, many well executed Home theaters can best these "wantabe" IMAX theaters in overall quality and presentation.
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Old 05-22-2013, 12:09 AM
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I saw it with the wife in 3D and we both agree the presentation and movie was fabulous. We love our local theater.
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Old 05-22-2013, 12:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by nickbuol View Post

I just got home from watching it in Plano, TX at a Cinemark XD theater with 3D and Dolby Atmos (I love it when my work travels take me to a nice theater). The very opening piece, and I mean even before the "running" part, you could really hear the details of sound coming from overhead.

The theater was at a good volume level and not shrill or anything. 3D is something that I can live without, but it was done nicely in this flick.

The worst thing about the movie... More so that the way too many one-liners and "throwbacks" to previous movies, was J.J. Abrams lens flare crap. I mean, come on. It seemed like EVERY scene had a LOT of lens flare. Specially when onboard the Enterprise. Someone needs to limit that guys use of the artificial lens flare tool in post production. It was not a "signature" J.J. Abrams thing when used to the extent it was in Star Trek : ITD.

That was more distracting that anything else.


I totally agree about the lens flare; way too much!


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Old 05-22-2013, 12:27 AM
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I totally agree about the lens flare; way too much!
AGAIN?!?

Can't wait for him to get his cameras on SW....rolleyes.gif

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Old 05-22-2013, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by fookoo_2010 View Post

Having seen this in the same ETX theater on 5/16, it was very disappointing because it was not in Dolby Atmos nor was it a laser projection. As to how one would know those significant facts, I have no idea. However, the IMAX screen in Universal was superior in terms of image size and brightness to what I saw and heard on 5/16. AMC should get their story straight because the ETX theater, as well as the IMAX, come at a premium ticket price. Given no Dolby Atmos or no laser projection, there is no point in going to the ETX theater.

Thank you!!!!! I was really looking at going to Burbank to see this but since Universal is practically within walking distance and it has IMAX. I was really debating over these two theaters but alas the question has been answered. Thank you I cannot wait to see this film!
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Old 05-22-2013, 01:22 AM
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Nice write-up Scott. Always informative. I gotta say those reading fall right within the range of cinema reference level which we know is 85 db pink noise with 20 db of headroom. Anything with peaks over 105 is pushing reference level. I do understand you are very ear sensitive and protective of your hearing tho and thats cool. I think attunated ear plugs are a good idea and I wear them to concerts. Noise canceling head phones are way over kill for me though. Can you hear anything with those on lol?wink.gif

Many cinemas, even with state of the art gear and good acoustics, still can sound strained at reference IMHO. Especially with a hot handed EQ tech. Dolby Cinema processors are playing at reference level with the fader set to 7.0 out of 10.0 so next time your there Scott ask for a booth tour and check what position the fadars are on the processors and see if they are running at, below, or above reference. I think many a cinema could do well as to drop the fader to 6.5 or 6.9 on some of these over the top soundtracks.

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Old 05-22-2013, 01:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Nice write-up Scott. Always informative. I gotta say those reading fall right within the range of cinema reference level which we know is 85 db pink noise with 20 db of headroom. Anything with peaks over 105 is pushing reference level. I do understand you are very ear sensitive and protective of your hearing tho and thats cool. I think attunated ear plugs are a good idea and I wear them to concerts. Noise canceling head phones are way over kill for me though. Can you hear anything with those on lol?wink.gif

Many cinemas, even with state of the art gear and good acoustics, still can sound strained at reference IMHO. Especially with a hot handed EQ tech. Dolby Cinema processors are playing at reference level with the fader set to 7.0 out of 10.0 so next time your there Scott ask for a booth tour and check what position the fadars are on the processors and see if they are running at, below, or above reference. I think many a cinema could do well as to drop the fader to 6.5 or 6.9 on some of these over the top soundtracks.


Thanks! Actually, I can hear things surprisingly well with the NC headphones on, which mostly attenuate low frequencies. But I take them off for quiet dialog-laden scenes. The headphones are mostly for the pants-flapping explosions.


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Old 05-22-2013, 07:17 AM
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So if there is no Atmos or Laser in the ETX theater in Burbank you think its not up to par? Are you kidding?

I'd rather spend $1 more and see it in IMAX.
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Old 05-22-2013, 07:29 AM
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I went and checked this out in Berlin with their Dolby Atmos system. Over-all I found the whole system pretty cool and the best parts came when the dolby intro was played. However I have to agree with others that the sound levels where far too hot. I am positive it must have hit over 100dB because it was screaming loud. Yes I am a guy who can go to the Berghain here which hits over 130dB and dance all night (with hearing protection of course).

The whole 3D thing has never floated my boat and many parts of this film I found distracting due to this, but this is just my take on the whole 3D thing in general.

Back to the sound though:

The overhead speakers did add some interest when thing would fly over head, and in scenes where the Enterprise would use it thrusters and rotate. I am more though of the belief the room acoustics played the bigger part, but also the bass was amazingly tight with very little room effect (if any). On the Bass, totally well done. Still every time explosions started to pick up you had that classic horn sound where things started to shout. Yes it was loud, but also hints of that glass shouting effect came in and became very fatiguing. Sad as I believe dropping the whole sound a few dB would have made the experience that much better.

In Short:
Glad I went, won't be in a rush to go back.
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Old 05-22-2013, 08:29 AM
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Interesting that most of what I read on AVS is about the quest for reference. This is the first I've seen an argument that reference should be lower than what it is. (Or maybe not that the full scale needs to be changed, just that mixers need to use less of it most of the time.) I'm not sure where I fall on that. I tend to agree that the average is too high. But the extreme ULF stuff needs that 100dB+ to really be perceived properly. And I know I'm not alone in loving that stuff!

I enjoyed the second movie, though not as much as the first. It was probably good enough to get me to go back to the theater for the third one, whenever that arrives. (Iron Man 2 was such a disaster that I will be waiting for Iron Man 3 to come out on disc.) I absolutely agree with the above posers that the lens flare crap was pretty over the top. I can imagine some fun with that from SNL.
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