Originally Posted by JWhip
If you have ear ringing after seeing a film, you have permanently damaged your hearing to some degree. That should NEVER happen at a film. I will say it again. LOUDER IS NOT BETTER.
Yup. I wish I'd absorbed that point when playing in a band for many years.
Of course there's numerous people who love loud sound, huge waves of bass etc.
And then there's the argument that arguing against super loud soundtracks is an old-fogey perspective that holds back progress, as new technology and additional dynamic range further's the goal of movies sonically replicating the experience of real life.
The problem is that the type of sounds ubiquitous in movies, especially ones with action, are just the types of sounds that, at "real levels," threaten hearing damage - guns, car crashes, wars, jets, explosions, etc. A "real" rocket taking off would pretty much deafen you if you were standing where the typical camera shot placed you in a lift-off sequence. Is it wise to keep pushing to replicate real life in this fashion? The very nature of movies, especially the type that now dominate the box office, would put everyone into hearing-damage-level situations if they were re-created at "realistic" levels.
And ever expanding dynamic range capabilities do indeed allow for more realism. But for just that reason, it also sets up possible issues for human ears. It's well known for instance that hearing damage occurs more readily when we experience extreme loudness changes, for instance our ears attuned to a quiet room and a firecracker or gunshot suddenly going off.
The more such large swings in dynamics are possible, the closer one can replicate real-life sonic scenarios that are more threatening to the health of our hearing.
There are standards for mixing theaters (ours are usually pinked to 85 db...and since one another 20db of headroom is common enough it's amazing how loud some scenes can be in mixing theaters. One recent playback had a dance club scene that was bone rattling during playback. One may as well have been in a real dance club).
But movie theaters are all over the map. The type of levels they can produce, especially when the orders are to crank it up, can be problematic for our hearing health.
It's not that I'm arguing here against dynamic movie soundtracks. It's just that we should also keep in mind there are possible pitfalls and liabilities that come along with the quest for ever increasing sonic realism, wider dynamic range, and higher volume in playback.