Originally Posted by Steve_in_L.A.
Hmm, interesting responses, thanks all. I appreciate that there may be other things going on here. I'm particularly interested in concepts like dynamic limiters in DVD players or receivers, etc, about which I have not heard anything in the general AV magazines. My question is, where can one read up on some more thorough treatments of digital sound? I've found most of the good stuff focuses on digital imaging, not sound.
My research on sound suggests that concepts like "hurting the sound system" because of excessive dynamic range encoded on the sound track are wives tales, so I remain a skeptic here all around. I hear lots of differences as described above, and I understand there are many links in the chain. I do find it VERY hard to believe that cinema sound tracks run at lower bit rates than DVD - can we get some authoritative support to back up these claims?
Dynamic limiters in DVD players is easy to access. Simply turn on your DVD player (make sure the TV is on too) and you should be able to find a button on the DVD remote that says "setup" or something to that effect. You will then be in the DVD menu system. No need to worry though as it's ment for consumers to adjust. At one point, you will run across the part of the menu that allows you to compress the dynamic rang (usually called family mode or late at night mode) (and guess what? It may already be on as a default!) so that loud and soft sounds are at about the same level. There are other options that should allow one to turn off the compression completly. On some units, "on" means compression "on" or "on" can also mean full dynamic range "on". So you may need to read the owners manual to make sure your selecting what you want.
I have read about these limiters in audio magazines before, however then again, I'm always reading about audio/video equipment.
Dynamic limitors (for DD5.1 audio) in pre-amps or receivers may not be as commen. My pre-amp has one, though I usually don't see them in many recievers.
Wide dynamic rang audio can hurt audio systems that are not designed for it. I've even bought CDs that has warning lables to let the user know to play the CD at a lower than normal level so that when the loud sounds hit, it will not let the amp clip the signal and possably damage the speakers. Trust me, you clip a signal enough, your speakers will blow. It's that simple. On my amp, there are lights that light up when the amp runs out of power (telling me that the signal is being clipped). It's telling me to turn down the volume so that the lights don't light up anymore.
I am also skeptic about bit rates in theaters when compaired to the DVD version. I would think that the theaters would be using higher bit rates. On the other hand, I could understand why this could happen. The DD5.1 soundtrack on the film itself does not allow for much space to carry lots of digital information. Then again, there's other digital formats that get their sounds from digital discs that probably use a much higher bit rate.
Then there's IMAX, I think in some cases, it's true CD quality sound and maybe even better...for all the channels.
By the way, you don't have to have wide dynamic audio to hurt spekers. Simply turn on a FM audio source and turn your receiver's volume control as high up as you can. See how long your spekers last. True, you would never do that normally, however with wide dynamic audio, clipping the audio here and there could also blow your speakers, it just takes a lot longer for the coils to heat up and melt. Not trying to be funny here, it's also known as a "slow blow".