Originally Posted by Scott Wilkinson
I won't go into the movie itself, except to say it's pretty silly—and loud! I measured an Leq (average level) of 97.4 dBC over the course of the movie plus trailers, an Lmax (1-second maximum RMS) value of 114 dBC, an L10 (the level above which the sound stayed 10% of the time) of 101 dBC, and an L50 (the level above which the sound stayed 50% of the time) of 91 dBC. Needless to say, I expected to need my earplugs, and I sure did!
Interestingly, Imax recently finished installing its new immersive-sound system in the TCL Chinese auditorium—it's 12.1 with four additional ceiling speakers and two additional side-height speaker arrays along with two 16-foot-tall subwoofer clusters. However, the Furious 7 DCP was 5.1 only, so the new speakers were not used for this presentation.
We saw Mad Max last night at the TCL. Nice, big theater. The sound was truly assaultive, in both good and bad ways.
That "new immersive-sound" system seemed to be operational. Though impressive, judging from Mad Max alone it's a little less than optimum. The ceiling speakers were rarely audible. This was due somewhat, no doubt, to the sound design of the movie, but they might not be cranked up enough. Most theaters don't have ceilings that high, though.
The side speaker system is comprised of maybe 8-12 rather modest units on the wall. They were inaudible from the center of the theater during action scenes, which means most of the movie. Cinema houses of this size and width are unusual, the width especially proving to be a challenge for the surrounds.
The new souped-up mains, on this souped-up movie, I'm sure were above the Lmax and L10 levels mentioned above -- definitely mad max sound levels. This was the loudest movie soundtrack I've heard yet. Lots of maxxed-out bass from explosions, of course, but no ULF that I could detect. ULF may be in the soundtrack but it wasn't in the air that night. It would probably require unattainable amounts of ULF for it to assert itself amidst all of that 40-80 Hz pounding. ULF at those levels would likely create some architectural issues, at least at this venue.
A more insidious issue with the TCL is its less-than-optimum acoustics. More reverb than I would expect in a putative SOTA facility, though as mentioned earlier there are preservation issues that probably limit this. You combine higher RT times with that powerful sound system and you get a true "wall of sound" effect. Dialogue articulation, at least for this movie, is not great; chalk that up to the elevated sound levels, busy background mix, slap-echo acoustics and the clipped Australian accents. In a more restrained movie, I think articulation would be OK.
Now for the good part. The visuals were very good. Not as detailed as 70mm I've seen at the Egyptian from time to time, or as immersive as the Cinerama screening of How The West Was Won
at the TCM Festival a couple years ago. But it has a projected smoothness to it that compensates. The 3D brightness was fine, even better than the IMAX at Burbank using polarized. The 3D itself on Mad Max was just fair -- a lot of CG-defined depth planes that weren't quite convincing and could even be distracting. The trailer I saw for the new Jurassic Park movie next month looked more promising in that regard.