Which Has More Impact on You, Image or Sound? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews

View Poll Results: Which Has More Impact on You, Image or Sound?
Image 67 13.67%
Sound 202 41.22%
Both equally 145 29.59%
It depends on the movie 76 15.51%
Voters: 490. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 01:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Which Has More Impact on You, Image or Sound?



This question might seem to be asking you to choose which element you'd do without if you had to, but it's a bit more subtle than that.

A few weeks ago on the Home Theater Geeks podcast, Mark Henninger and I answered questions from AVS Forum members and the live chat room. One question from the chat room was, "When watching a movie, what impacts the human psyche more, image or sound?" Several people chimed in about which element they would prefer to do without if they had to make a choice, and after that show, I got an email from Jamie, a listener who would choose audio. As he wrote, "A movie without sound is an old fashioned silent movie. A movie without a picture is radio/music/podcast, which millions of people around the world choose to listen to every day."

In my view, Jamie's comments are not quite on the mark—radio, music, and audio podcasts are designed to be experienced without visual imagery, which is different than listening to a movie soundtrack without the picture. But his message got me thinking more about the question, and I realized it's not about which element you would prefer to do without if you had to choose between them, but which one has more impact when both are present.

Which element has more impact on your experience of watching a movie, the image or the sound? Or do they impact you equally? Does it depend on the movie? What leads you to your answer?

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post #2 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 01:39 PM
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Although both are important, generally speaking I'll take AQ over PQ.
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post #3 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 01:49 PM
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A properly designed silent movie can still be enjoyed. A movie without images is NOT a movie, plain and simple. That said, I hate subtitled movies. To me it is very disconcerting to have to change my focus to read the subtitles and back to watch what's going on. And action movies are the absolute worst. I would rather see a foreign movie dubbed to English than subtitled.
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post #4 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 01:49 PM
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post #5 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 01:49 PM
 
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Audio for me.

Movies get you emotionally involved with the sound
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post #6 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 01:52 PM
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Breaking this down to consider a poor representation on either front. I agree with eljaycanuck.

Poor audio quality will remind you it is bad through the whole movie. Dialogue will be unintelligible, speakers will sound strained, dynamics will be lackings
Lesser picture quality is forgotten after the first 10 minutes. Every time I watch a DVD I'm always originally annoyed at the picture quality as compared to a BluRay - 10 minutes later I've settled in to enjoy the movie and forget entirely about the lower res and just enjoy the movie.

Now if you are talking about picture size as part of the picture quality -- well then maybe we have a different discussion....
a 19" 1080P monitor vs. a 135" projector at 1080p. I think it's clear most people would prefer the projector for a cinematic experience preference.

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post #7 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 01:53 PM
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For movies - both are equally important to me.
For sporting events - picture.
For TV shows - picture.

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post #8 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 01:58 PM
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Even many silent films were meant to be accompanied by live music.

When a movie is well put together the two happen in concert and you don't even realize it. A well constructed shot can make you feel tension, or loneliness, or relaxed. Likewise the audio (both music and sound effects) have an equally important hand in conveying the same emotion.

There was a youtube video that I can't find now (likely taken down) that shows the climax of several Spielberg movies without the John Williams score. ET, Close Encounters, etc. They're so lifeless without the music. But the music itself, while great to listen to, needs those iconic images to tell the whole story.

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post #9 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 02:07 PM
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Watch an older movie with a lot of outdoors/wide angle shots, where the audio just isn't as good as today's movies with boom mics right above actors/etc (Lawrence of Arabia is a prime example.) Not only does it lose a lot of impact, but at times it is just flat out difficult to understand dialog.

Audio is very important.

That said, I voted that both are important.
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post #10 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 02:08 PM
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voted "It depends on the movie"....
I have
  1. 11.2 audio with 130" 1080p scope screen in our basement HT
  2. 5.1 audio with 55" 4k UHDTV in our family room
  3. soundbar stereo + subwoofer in our bedroom with 37" 1080p HDTV

I'll easily watch sports and general TV any of them.
For some movies it's a toss up family room or basement HT (the leap of Vizio P UHDTV is that much over 1080p), however then for some movies I will only watch them for the combined visual immersion plus sonic envelopment the basement HT provides.
example:
-epic movies
-first viewings

Then again....I've been know to watch a movie in the bedroom just because upon surfing it was "on" and I just enjoyed it, soundbar stereo and all ....

Are we overthinking this?
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post #11 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 02:23 PM
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I voted sound because it brings me into the movie. I've heard soundtracks that made me go and research artists and even buy CDs. I've never had an image/video move me to that point.
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post #12 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 02:26 PM
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Both

Of course if you have whole house Kimber Cable then I guess audio!
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post #13 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 02:32 PM
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Audio or video: A question I'm wrestling with right now. My system is competent but not great on either front. (BenQ W1070 on a spandex screen for video with an older 7.1 audio system). A significant improvement on either would be about $3000. Decisions, decisions. In the end, I spend more time hating on the poor black level than the raggedy frequency response and dynamics so a video upgrade is most likely. I would then be able to run the BenQ for non-critical viewing and save the more expensive projector for Sci-fi and Horror.
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post #14 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea View Post
Breaking this down to consider a poor representation on either front. I agree with eljaycanuck.

Poor audio quality will remind you it is bad through the whole movie. Dialogue will be unintelligible, speakers will sound strained, dynamics will be lackings
Lesser picture quality is forgotten after the first 10 minutes. Every time I watch a DVD I'm always originally annoyed at the picture quality as compared to a BluRay - 10 minutes later I've settled in to enjoy the movie and forget entirely about the lower res and just enjoy the movie.

Now if you are talking about picture size as part of the picture quality -- well then maybe we have a different discussion....
a 19" 1080P monitor vs. a 135" projector at 1080p. I think it's clear most people would prefer the projector for a cinematic experience preference.
I have recently joined the projector club, and I agree with your statement.

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post #15 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 02:41 PM
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this is such a difficult question to answer!

when i was younger, let's say pre-2000, i was totally happy to watch movies on a 32" tv as long as i had a good audio system.

now, i've become accustomed to the projector, and it feels 'wrong' watching movies even on my 64" f8500.

if we talk about bare minimums, then i say both equally. i would not want to watch a movie without at least 5.1 audio, or a 'big screen' hdtv. but if we go from there, i'd rather have a large projection screen than upgrade the audio to 7.1 or better speakers, etc...

but then... i'm WAY more excited about atmos coming out, and i absolutely plan on adopting that. UHD is take it or leave it for me right now.

so i still don't really know how to answer this. i feel like my minimum's for audio are easier to meet than my minimum's for video. and i feel like the quality of equipment i 'need' is much lower for audio(i don't need high speakers, or expensive pre-pro set ups, but i'm totally disappointed in 99% of tv's on the market today, and most projectors too). but at the same time, i feel like the quality of video i have now is so close to perfect, i don't need a better standard, just a display tech that produces black.

i think ultimately, i could get away with less audio though. in my new home i'm planning on doing mostly in-wall speakers to simplify the audio, and clean up the room. and maybe get a larger screen too.

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post #16 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 02:45 PM
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I voted depends on the movie. There have been numerous movies where coworkers reviewed a movie much poorer than my own impression. Most always in these cases were people using tv speakers with their "Big Screen" LCD TV. Until you actually put sound out through a decent 5.1 setup I don't think the audio quality is fully pictured. Visually some movies just look so stunning that the audio just accents the visuals.

I could have just as easily voted both equally.
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post #17 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 03:09 PM
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Without a doubt for me, image.
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post #18 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 03:09 PM
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I voted depends on the movie. Most dramas or comedies do not require full blown 7.1 lossless audio. For block buster action thrillers its an absolute must. I also could have voted both equally as well.

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post #19 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 03:12 PM
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I find both equally as important. Truly if you value one above the other then you are using some aspect of the film to justify image or audio as more important against what impacted you the most about the film. Who would watch StarWars without the imagery, but yet not treasure the audio?
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post #20 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 03:16 PM
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View a film without the sound.

Now view that same film without the image.
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post #21 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbdudex View Post
voted "It depends on the movie"....
I have
  1. 11.2 audio with 130" 1080p scope screen in our basement HT
  2. 5.1 audio with 55" 4k UHDTV in our family room
  3. soundbar stereo + subwoofer in our bedroom with 37" 1080p HDTV

I'll easily watch sports and general TV any of them.
For some movies it's a toss up family room or basement HT (the leap of Vizio P UHDTV is that much over 1080p), however then for some movies I will only watch them for the combined visual immersion plus sonic envelopment the basement HT provides.
example:
-epic movies
-first viewings

Then again....I've been know to watch a movie in the bedroom just because upon surfing it was "on" and I just enjoyed it, soundbar stereo and all ....

Are we overthinking this?
My home is similar to yours, 3 areas for viewing, although the rooms are a little different based on usage. I agree, that it does depend on the material. I think I get an enjoyable experience in any room, however for visual and overall convenience, I would prefer to watch in the bedroom, best TV in the house, also the one that gets used the most. For enjoying music, or better audio, I prefer the game room. I think this question may be better directed at first setting up a home theater on a budget. That would help decide where to start buying quality components. If that is the case, I started with a quality set of speakers and reciever, so maybe audio is my preference.
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post #22 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 03:26 PM
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Both, Don't matter if I watch the news the Ball game with crowd noise and movies got to have my sound and video they go hand and hand together.
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post #23 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 03:40 PM
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There are no video rental stores left in my part of Canada. Netflix does not offer DVD hard copy rentals in Canada, I did email them and ask them to start though

I have to download movies, the PQ is usually almost as good as Blu-ray, but the sound is no where near the quality of what I usually get out of the analogue output of my blu ray player.

Without the immersive sound, I still enjoy the movie, but would enjoy them a lot more with better sound.

This only applies to big budget blow everything in the world up kind of movies, for the more cerebral fair, as long as the dialogue is clear, I am happy

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post #24 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 03:52 PM
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This is a pretty easy question. We listen to music that has no video but is there any video that anyone watches for entertainment that doesn't have sound to go with it?
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post #25 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 04:03 PM
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Sound.
I watch the picture, like I look at a photograph.
But the soundtrack drags me into the movie. It is all around me, it feels larger than life.

Music brings emotions to me much more than images. A great soundtrack (musically speaking) can make a mediocre movie acceptable to me, just like listening to a good radio station. A mediocre movie, no matter the visual effects, remains mediocre if the soundtrack is not there to save it (writing this phrase, MANY movies loaded with visual effects and agressive surround explosions come to my mind...)
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post #26 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 04:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthSky View Post
View a film without the sound.

Now view that same film without the image.
Well, there's always subtitles.

Seriously....The question itself says more about the state of modern cinema than anything else.

People will be watching classics -- like Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Singing In The Rain, Lawrence Of Arabia, The Hospital, Out Of Africa, Pulp Fiction... etc., etc., -- long after the Comic Book Movie era has died out (I mean, can you get any louder than Fury Road?). And many will watch and enjoy them on a display with its own tiny little built-in speakers.

The reason is simple: Movies are about storytelling -- not eye candy, or low-frequency extension, or box office gross. Tentpole movies at the Laser IMAX are all well and good, but that's not what makes a truly satisfying movie that stays with you.

This is likely a heretical viewpoint on an enthusiast forum like AVS, but it is reality.
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post #27 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 04:24 PM
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Despite my being more of a audio priority person, we "watch movies", and "listen to music". I voted both equally because for me, it is the combination of a large screen and immersive audio that makes movie watching at home truly special. My audio system is farther along and is the more stable aspect of the system. Video is more vulnerable to technological obsolescence than audio and I prefer to not occupy the bleeding edge.

That said, I recently upgraded to Atmos (7.2.4 with ceiling mounted speakers) so apparently, I am willing to bleed a little ...

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post #28 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 04:31 PM
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A kind of unfair question as who would prefer to be blind in preference to deaf?
That said I voted sound.
I have a fantastic sound system with a projector.
A sad admission
Every time I listen to Ann Hathaway sing "I dreamed a dream" in Les Miserable I am reduced to tears, yes you need the visuals to tell the story, but watch the movie without the sound and there is no emotion.
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Last edited by Lesmor; 08-24-2015 at 04:34 PM.
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post #29 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 04:46 PM
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It's not that sound has a bigger impact than image, "it is the impact".
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post #30 of 147 Old 08-24-2015, 04:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PrimeTime View Post
Well, there's always subtitles.

Seriously....The question itself says more about the state of modern cinema than anything else.

People will be watching classics -- like Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Singing In The Rain, Lawrence Of Arabia, The Hospital, Out Of Africa, Pulp Fiction... etc., etc., -- long after the Comic Book Movie era has died out (I mean, can you get any louder than Fury Road?). And many will watch and enjoy them on a display with its own tiny little built-in speakers.

The reason is simple: Movies are about storytelling -- not eye candy, or low-frequency extension, or box office gross. Tentpole movies at the Laser IMAX are all well and good, but that's not what makes a truly satisfying movie that stays with you.

This is likely a heretical viewpoint on an enthusiast forum like AVS, but it is reality.
The world's majority of people watch a movie with the sound coming out from the tiny TV's speakers.

And some of the greatest films of all time are in mono, others silent.

'Gravity' has a "Silent" track, from the Diamond Luxe Edition. And 'Mad Max: Fury Road' has also a "Silent" audio track, from the eventual B&W Director's Preferred Version future release. 'The Artist' ...did you see that film? ...B&W without audio (sound).

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Last edited by NorthSky; 08-25-2015 at 12:25 AM. Reason: Preferred
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