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post #1 of 139 Old 05-10-2020, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
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War of the Worlds Ultra HD Blu-ray Review



A contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells' classic, the sci-fi thriller reveals the extraordinary battle for the future of humankind through the eyes of one American family. Fleeing from an extraterrestrial army of killer Tripods that annihilate everything in their path, Ray Ferrier (Cruise) races to keep his family safe. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of War of the Worlds from Paramount Home Entertainment.



The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

92



Details:

Studio and Year: DreamWorks - 2005
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 117 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure/Drama

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French/Portuguese/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto, Tim Robbins, Gene Barry, Ann Robinson, Rick Gonzalez
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Music by: John Williams
Written by: Josh Friedman & David Koepp
Region Code: A


Release Date: May 19, 2020


"They’re Already Here…"


Synopsis:

“A contemporary retelling of H.G. Wells' classic, the sci-fi thriller reveals the extraordinary battle for the future of humankind through the eyes of one American family. Fleeing from an extraterrestrial army of killer Tripods that annihilate everything in their path, Ray Ferrier (Cruise) races to keep his family safe.” – Paramount Home Entertainment

My Take:

I previously reviewed War of the Worlds on Blu-ray and have included my earlier comments here. Ratings for film, and bonus content will be the same, as they are identical to the original. New comments and ratings for the Ultra HD video and Dolby Atmos sound are below.

Note: There are spoilers contained below.

War of the Worlds is a free adaptation of the classic story by H.G. Wells which revolves around a hostile alien invasion of earth and a father struggling to protect his children. Ray Ferrier (Tom Cruise) is a blue-collar worker living in New Jersey, divorced from his first wife Mary Ann (Miranda Otto) and estranged from his two children Rachel and Robbie (Dakota Fanning and Justin Chatwin), of whom he has custody on weekends.

On one such visitation, looking after the kids becomes a little more difficult when, after a series of strange lighting storms hit his neighborhood, Ray discovers that a fleet of death-ray toting robotic spaceships have emerged nearby, part of the first wave of an all-out alien invasion of the Earth. Transporting his children from New Jersey to Boston in an attempt to find safety at Mary Ann's parents' house, Ray must learn to become the protector and provider he never was in marriage.

I saw this film during its theatrical run in the summer of 2005. It would be fair to say that I liked it from the start. Having watched it multiple times on home video (first on DVD and then on Blu-ray) I think it has grown on me even more. This isn’t classic cinema but, taking it as a whole which includes the scope of its production, I just find it captivating. The premise speaks to man’s insecurities (unspoken or not) about the inherent danger should aliens ever visit our planet. Unlike similar films which feature multi-directional plotlines I like the story’s primarily singular focus which centers on the characters of Ray, Robbie, and Rachel as we see the layers of their dysfunctional relationship peeled back. I appreciate how they slowly come together as Ray instinctively goes from dead beat dad to stalwart protector that will stop at nothing in getting the kids safely to their mother.

Co-mingled with that is the development of a bond that only a parent and child can share. We see it when Ray looks on with proud eyes as Robbie scales the large ramp aboard the ferry in order to help others that are trying to get to safety. In that same sequence Rachel senses danger close and reaches for Ray’s hand. Later trust and understanding begin to emerge. This is evident in the scene where Robbie says to Ray “you need to let me go” followed shortly after by Rachel asking Ray to “sing me a lullaby” when she is frightened. The development of these characters and our belief in their connection is important since they need to trust and rely upon one another if they are to survive.

This film is a special effects extravaganza that teams star Tom Cruise and director Steven Spielberg up for the second time (Minority Report being the first). Spielberg is certainly no stranger to sci-fi films that relate to this subject matter as he directed both Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. (considered classics) before this one. Spielberg’s War of the Worlds is edgy and features chills, thrills and suspense as it pays homage to but, doesn’t remake, the classic 1953 film.

While it isn’t a wholly satisfying cinematic work, it is an entertaining and thrilling sci-fi adventure that is bolstered by its large-scale production, apt direction, and engaging performances by Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning. I am excited that it has finally come to Ultra HD Blu-ray.


Replay Value:


Parental Guide:

The rating is for frightening sequences of sci-fi violence and disturbing images.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution:
  • Visual Impact:



UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution:
  • Visual Impact:




Dolby Atmos Rating: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Level of immersion:
  • Soundstage integration:
  • Audio object placement:
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform:
  • Entertainment factor:



War of the Worlds comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

War of the Worlds was shot on 35mm film, and Its presentation in Ultra HD is derived from that source. I was unable to determine if it was rendered from a 2K or 4K Digital Intermediate. It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like War of the Worlds has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won't result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.


As noted with the Blu-ray release of War of the Worlds let me begin by saying that in my opinion this presentation appears to faithfully reflect the film’s original elements and director Steven Spielberg’s vision. Having said that it is important to understand that the way the film was shot does not necessarily reproduce the highly polished, three dimensional, and clearly resolute imagery that typically evokes the wow factor.

The film was shot utilizing a visual style that gives it a distinctively de-saturated, monochromatic and dynamic look that imbues it with sepia toned hues that more or less predominate the presentation. Colors are primarily limited to various stages of gray, brown, green and red. There are elements of richer color but, saturation is noticeably held in check. Fleshtones are mildly affected but, otherwise appear natural with appreciable tonal variation and warm highlights.

Director of Photography Janusz Kaminski’s cinematography benefits from the enhanced resolution and emboldened contrast. The imagery retains the gritty aesthetic that it always has, with no unnecessary additions. Copious amounts of detail can be seen, both in wide-angle and close-up perspectives, imparting a discernible increase in depth/dimension. Shot on 35mm film, using anamorphic lenses, film grain and some innate softening are present. Neither are compromising, even during special effects shots, or those laden with minutia, such as falling rain, hazy, light filled backgrounds or drab interiors lit only by streams of light.

The use of HDR is spot on, driving the story’s use of visual cues offset by gleams of brilliant light that illuminate the landscapes and gray skies. The beautiful use of sepia stands out in stark contrast to the gradational blacks, grays and teal, that make up the dystopia featured in the story. The film’s shadow laden environs, such as those that take place in Harland’s basement, have never looked better, offering increased interstitial details that promote depth of field. Blacks are inky without compromise to fidelity.

The ferry boat attack and, the military attack in chapter 14, brings all of the presentations best elements together and looks terrific. While I have never found War of the Worlds to make for a commanding presentation on home video, I was impressed with the Ultra HD presentation which, takes it to the next level, allowing its attributes to be fully realized in a way that it hadn’t been before. Video enthusiasts are sure to appreciate it.


Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR10 presentations for War of the Worlds, I found the HDR to be extremely close. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were negligible. Again, I want to emphasize that this film’s predominating elements aren’t necessarily lent to the engaging type of HDR that makes the format shine.


Dolby Atmos:

The Good:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made steady use of the platform. This soundtrack has always been excellent, with its primary set pieces being the lightning storm, the first pod emergence/attack, the ferry boat attack, the neighborhood airliner crash and the military battle. In terms of surround sound/depth dimension none has ever sounded so good as the use of audio objects placed above successfully expands the breadth of the soundstage. I appreciated the fact that the sound designers utilized the freedom of object-based mixing, making this a fairly active Atmos track that retains much of its original essence while adding a noticeable increase in scope.

When called upon everything comes together, placing you inside the action as sounds rotate and revolve around the soundstage from both above and at ear level. In addition to the aforementioned set pieces the film features a series of scenes that show off the immersive effect as the blend of music and smaller object sounds effectively support the story’s thematic elements. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere and integration of discrete object placement. I think that each complimented the source material and made for a complimentary and at times entertaining listening experience.

The Bad:

I think that most of us at some point have used the pod emergence sequence in chapter 4 to show off the prowess of our subwoofer (s). The original DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack delivers bass that is truly prodigious as it extends down into the 20 and 30hz regions as times. Its palpable presence is never in question as it fills the room with tight ultra-refined bass that is appreciably superior and on occasion skin tingling.

Well, such is not the case with the new Dolby Atmos/7.1 channel sound mix. The low frequency effects channel in the new mix has been tamped down, leaving memorable scenes like the pod emergence sequence lacking the infrasonic palpability that fills the listening environment. The difference is not subtle. I played the same scene first, on the Atmos track, followed by the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track (I have the scene saved as an .MKV clip for demo purposes) for my wife and she said the difference is quite obvious. Dynamic range doesn’t appear to be impacted as the track sounds dynamic when called upon. Bass is certainly present, with effects such as the firing of the death rays, tank/missile fire and lightning bolts offering solid tactility/response. The problem is that the rhythmically charged bass that has been a staple of this soundtrack just doesn’t hit as hard. For the life of me I can’t imagine why the sound designer would make such a deleterious change. Aside from this the track truly is excellent.

This oversight has taken what should have been a noteworthy upgrade to an already top-notch soundtrack and made it questionable for fans that have reveled in its attributes. My Atmos rating system doesn’t have a parameter that takes low frequency effects into account so this will be reflected under the Entertainment Factor rating parameter.

Note: The Blu-ray that comes in this UHD Combo Pack is the original 2010 Blu-ray release that has the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack.


For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: War of the Worlds Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: War of the Worlds Blu-ray
  • Legacy Bonus Material
  • Digital Code



Final Thoughts:

War of the Worlds may not be considered a timeless classic but, there is no denying its staying power among fans. It is a free adaptation of the story by H.G. Wells and in the hands of Steven Spielberg makes for a thrilling albeit slightly over the top sci-fi film that is a personal favorite. It makes its Ultra HD Blu-ray debut in this Combo Pack from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring terrific Ultra HD video and legacy bonus material.

Since its release on home video audio enthusiasts (myself included) have reveled in the deep ultra-low frequency bass associated with this soundtrack. I have looked forward to experiencing it on Ultra HD Blu-ray via the new Dolby Atmos immersive listening track. While the new mix incorporates excellent use of the Atmos platform it eschews the room shuddering and attention-grabbing bass that has always been associated with the soundtrack which, spoils an otherwise terrific presentation. It includes the original Blu-ray release/bonus features. Despite the issue with the audio track this offering is still worthy of consideration for fans that are equipped to take advantage of the upgraded video and Atmos listening track which are both great.













Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


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Last edited by Ralph Potts; 05-10-2020 at 01:38 PM.
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post #2 of 139 Old 05-10-2020, 10:53 AM
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Cannot wait for this. Tom Cruise has landed some of the best sifi roles (war of the worlds, minority report, oblivion, edge of tomorrow).
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Thanks Ralph for the review.

My heart sank when I read your notes on my favorite bass chapter of all time...Chapter 4. As you stated, whenever I change anything relative to sub (placement), calibration etc etc... I go back to this blu ray and play chapter 4 till he reaches the screen door with Dakota Fanning on the other side. It's the one piece of soundtrack I depend on to let me know I have the bass where I want it.

This is such a shame to hear.

But, thanks for the comprehensive review.

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post #4 of 139 Old 05-10-2020, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post
The Bad:

I think that most of us at some point have used the pod emergence sequence in chapter 4 to show off the prowess of our subwoofer (s). The original DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio soundtrack delivers bass that is truly prodigious as it extends down into the 20 and 30hz regions as times. Its palpable presence is never in question as it fills the room with tight ultra-refined bass that is appreciably superior and on occasion skin tingling.

Well, such is not the case with the new Dolby Atmos/7.1 channel sound mix. The low frequency effects channel in the new mix has been tamped down, leaving memorable scenes like the pod emergence sequence lacking the infrasonic palpability that fills the listening environment. The difference is not subtle. I played the same scene first, on the Atmos track, followed by the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track (I have the scene saved as an .MKV clip for demo purposes) for my wife and she said the difference is quite obvious. Dynamic range doesn’t appear to be impacted as the track sounds dynamic when called upon. Bass is certainly present, with effects such as the firing of the death rays, tank/missile fire and lightning bolts offering solid tactility/response. The problem is that the rhythmically charged bass that has been a staple of this soundtrack just doesn’t hit as hard. For the life of me I can’t imagine why the sound designer would make such a deleterious change. Aside from this the track truly is excellent.

This oversight has taken what should have been a noteworthy upgrade to an already top-notch soundtrack and made it questionable for fans that have reveled in its attributes. My Atmos rating system doesn’t have a parameter that takes low frequency effects into account so this will be reflected under the Entertainment Factor rating parameter.



FML!!!!! Come'on!!!! LOL
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post #5 of 139 Old 05-10-2020, 12:23 PM
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...sometimes you have to know when to fold them. I was expecting more, so, I guess my BD will suffice.

Thanks Ralph for your informative review. I always look forward to them to help me with my purchases.
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post #6 of 139 Old 05-10-2020, 12:48 PM
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Thank you for the review. Neutered LFE = I just cancelled my pre-order.
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post #7 of 139 Old 05-10-2020, 01:56 PM
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Wow, that is unfortunate about the LFE. Appreciate the heads up Ralph and this will save a lot of people from a disappointing purchase.
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Thanks Ralph - shame on neutered low end - will see if the enhanced image and atmos makes up for it
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post #9 of 139 Old 05-10-2020, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Ralph - shame on neutered low end - will see if the enhanced image and atmos makes up for it

Greetings,

As I closed with in the review, the upgrades are quite good and, while the tamped down LFE is disappointing, the presentation still has a lot to offer. It comes down to where everyone's individual interests lie.


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I'll probably still get it and wait for beq..
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post #11 of 139 Old 05-10-2020, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post
Greetings,

As I closed with in the review, the upgrades are quite good and, while the tamped down LFE is disappointing, the presentation still has a lot to offer. It comes down to where everyone's individual interests lie.


Regards,
For Sure - as long as bass is decent be great - can always toss in blu-ray (or DVD which is even more potent) if want to break something 😀

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Always appreciate your reviews, Ralph.

This has been on my list forever, only own the dvd, and since this comes with the blu ray, I just as well get this version.

One could rip the 4K stream and remux the DTS soundtrack into an MKV, I think. I’ve never tried it, but you could have the best of both worlds then...
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post #13 of 139 Old 05-10-2020, 05:56 PM
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I was looking forward to this as well, and will prob get it when i get my best buy rewards to get it at almost free.

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Maybe Ralph's SVS subwoofers broke at the same exact time? Please say that is the case Ralph. I beg you. How is the bass in the airline crash?

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I’d bet money this shortcoming can be fixed with BEQ.
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This is going to be Ralph's most popular unpopular review. Damn you Paramount. Damn you to hell.

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Come on, Paramount! How do you drop the ball on one of the best bass demo tracks ever?
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Doh! Pre-order cancelled.

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Sorry Dolby Atmos lovers are disappointed.

This is the meat for me...

Quote:
The use of HDR is spot on, driving the story’s use of visual cues offset by gleams of brilliant light that illuminate the landscapes and gray skies. The beautiful use of sepia stands out in stark contrast to the gradational blacks, grays and teal, that make up the dystopia featured in the story. The film’s shadow laden environs, such as those that take place in Harland’s basement, have never looked better, offering increased interstitial details that promote depth of field. Blacks are inky without compromise to fidelity.
Done deal when price pleases.

Thanks, Ralph.
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Sorry Dolby Atmos lovers are disappointed.



This is the meat for me...







Done deal when price pleases.



Thanks, Ralph.
Bass lovers of one of the greatest bass scenes in history are in mourning. Please be respectful.

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post #21 of 139 Old 05-10-2020, 10:18 PM
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I'm in Australia and have to wait until June but I just read this review which contradicts the review here:

https://ultrahd.highdefdigest.com/83...ahdbluray.html

So interesting that we have 2 different points of view especially with the audio. Quote

"But then damn, when that lightning strike sequence hits this Atmos track roars to life, giving startling pinpoint overhead presence with intense LFE with each and every strike. It was like being in the theater watching this for the first time! Likewise when the first tripod emerges from the ground and its sonic bellow foreshadows its the deployment of its death rays -- it's great stuff! The 5.1 DTS mix was already impressive but this Atmos track just kicks everything up a notch in all the right places"
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post #22 of 139 Old 05-10-2020, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by SimonNo10 View Post
I'm in Australia and have to wait until June but I just read this review which contradicts the review here:

https://ultrahd.highdefdigest.com/83...ahdbluray.html

So interesting that we have 2 different points of view especially with the audio. Quote

"But then damn, when that lightning strike sequence hits this Atmos track roars to life, giving startling pinpoint overhead presence with intense LFE with each and every strike. It was like being in the theater watching this for the first time! Likewise when the first tripod emerges from the ground and its sonic bellow foreshadows its the deployment of its death rays -- it's great stuff! The 5.1 DTS mix was already impressive but this Atmos track just kicks everything up a notch in all the right places"
We need the graph of the Atmos track. Being discussed here.

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-s...l#post59625202
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post #23 of 139 Old 05-11-2020, 04:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by SimonNo10 View Post
I'm in Australia and have to wait until June but I just read this review which contradicts the review here:

https://ultrahd.highdefdigest.com/83...ahdbluray.html

So interesting that we have 2 different points of view especially with the audio. Quote

"But then damn, when that lightning strike sequence hits this Atmos track roars to life, giving startling pinpoint overhead presence with intense LFE with each and every strike. It was like being in the theater watching this for the first time! Likewise when the first tripod emerges from the ground and its sonic bellow foreshadows its the deployment of its death rays -- it's great stuff! The 5.1 DTS mix was already impressive but this Atmos track just kicks everything up a notch in all the right places"
Greetings,

I read that. I can't speak for what he observed or what gear he is using. I have been in touch with @david Vaughn who has the disc and confirms my findings.


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post #24 of 139 Old 05-11-2020, 05:00 AM
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definitely need to know folks gear to understand review - WOW is friggen beast - not only deep but with volume in lower regions -
99.9% may not even be able to perceive something amiss - curious to get this
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post #25 of 139 Old 05-11-2020, 05:38 AM
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Originally Posted by SimonNo10 View Post
I'm in Australia and have to wait until June but I just read this review which contradicts the review here:

https://ultrahd.highdefdigest.com/83...ahdbluray.html

So interesting that we have 2 different points of view especially with the audio. Quote

"But then damn, when that lightning strike sequence hits this Atmos track roars to life, giving startling pinpoint overhead presence with intense LFE with each and every strike. It was like being in the theater watching this for the first time! Likewise when the first tripod emerges from the ground and its sonic bellow foreshadows its the deployment of its death rays -- it's great stuff! The 5.1 DTS mix was already impressive but this Atmos track just kicks everything up a notch in all the right places"
Well it looks like the reviewer uses an Atmos sound bar so his comments on LFE doesn’t hold much weight.
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post #26 of 139 Old 05-11-2020, 06:30 AM
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Could the audio have been mixed for a sound bar?

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post #27 of 139 Old 05-11-2020, 06:38 AM
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Could the audio have been mixed for a sound bar?
I think that's a common trend these days. Especially over at Disney. Us folks on AVS with capable equipment are a very small percentage of the viewers. To do this to a go to demo track is just terrible.

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post #28 of 139 Old 05-11-2020, 06:47 AM
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While BEQ may save this for some of us it's not an option for many. Assuming the video runtime is identical to blu-ray and you are one who rips their discs, it is quite easy to remux the 4K rip to include the older DTS track and mostly have the best of both worlds (minus the Atmos treatment). Download MKVtoolnix (windows). It's free and GUI driven. You just open each MKV, check which tracks you want in new MKV, and hit run. I've done this with a few titles when similar issues have occurred with lack of LFE on Atmos/DTS:X remix.
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post #29 of 139 Old 05-11-2020, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SimonNo10 View Post
I'm in Australia and have to wait until June but I just read this review which contradicts the review here:

https://ultrahd.highdefdigest.com/83...ahdbluray.html

So interesting that we have 2 different points of view especially with the audio. Quote

"But then damn, when that lightning strike sequence hits this Atmos track roars to life, giving startling pinpoint overhead presence with intense LFE with each and every strike. It was like being in the theater watching this for the first time! Likewise when the first tripod emerges from the ground and its sonic bellow foreshadows its the deployment of its death rays -- it's great stuff! The 5.1 DTS mix was already impressive but this Atmos track just kicks everything up a notch in all the right places"
I'm confident there'll be enough LOUD for everyone.

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A blunder that too many 4K UHD releases make, and one reason I'll wait for a significant WOTW price drop.

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post #30 of 139 Old 05-11-2020, 09:52 AM
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Thanks for the review @Ralph Potts! I watched the BD last night with the LFE track from the DVD remuxed into the BD 5.1 track, courtesy of @SuperFist , holy **** 18"s were pushed to the max, it felt like the foundation of the house was moving!

i'm sure this will get fixed quickly with BEQ and will compare the DVD LFE track vs. the ATMOS BEQ. This is a great time to invest time in the BEQ project. I held off for wayyy too long and now going back and watching all my movies over again. It's like MadVR for subwoofers, inching out every last ounce of performance. It's one of the coolest HT projects i've seen in many years, amazing community effort!
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