Originally Posted by G4n0nD0rf
Yes. Streaming services use a lossy DD+ stream to carry Atmos, while Blu-rays use a lossless TrueHD stream. The number of objects and their placement will most likely be the same, but the sound quality is not.
I've yet to see someone prove they can tell a decent bit rate lossy format from lossless. It's an audiophile myth there's a difference and the number of people deluding themselves that they NEED lossless is beyond incredible. TrueHD and Master-HD has been, IMO a massive waste of disc space in home theater and more marketing than reality. Above a certain bit-rate, nearly all "lossy" formats become indistinguishable from the lossless one, but save about 10:1 space at that point on average (e.g. I've never seen anyone prove they could tell 256kbps VBR AAC from the CD lossless original with DBX testing, but I've seen hundreds CLAIM they can to no avail).
Meanwhile, the industry could
have used that space to include something that DOES sound different and sometimes VERY different from the original Theatrical Soundtrack Mix
and that are these so-called "Near Field" mixes that claim to adjust the sound for home theater rooms that typically sit closer to speakers (the "standard" setup seems to be to place speakers 8-feet away from the console from what I've read). There's two problems with Near-Field mixes. One is that THX "RE-EQ" and modern Audyssey "Reference" (and similar settings on other brands) ALREADY adjust the ONE thing that truly differs between the two spaces and that is the X-Curve measurement of high frequency (treble) fall-off as you get further away from tweeters. If you run a Theatrical Mix at home, it will have more treble to balance that space out. That is what RE-EQ/Audyssey Reference, etc. are for). The other problem is that they don't just change those parameters, but are free to change anything they think "sounds better" for the home mix.
I'll point out right now that there was an interesting discussion with someone that edits (or edited; I don't know if he's still active) soundtracks over at the Film Tech Forums (http://www.film-tech.com/cgi-bin/ubb...001428/p1.html
). He explains exactly what is "typically" done and with remasters it's often a different team that does it (from the award winning soundtracks in some cases) and that ultimately it's "subjective" what they change based on what they 'hear' in this large mixing room with speakers placed closer to the console to hear "near field". They don't just pre-adjust the EQ (making the setting do it DOUBLE again if you use it at home), but also reduce dynamic range under the assumption people won't play it at theatrical levels at home and raise center dialog levels (and also sometimes reduce stereo separation assuming you have speakers to the sides that make it wider than it should be, but too bad if you have them behind an acoustically transparent screen or underneath the screen and now get a "shrunk" width).
That EQ defeats Audyssey reference levels since once you raise dialog well past the sound effects and reduce their range so they're louder "sooner", you make a soundtrack that sounds BAD at theater levels. People often complain that they can't play their home theater anywhere NEAR "reference" levels and that's why. The soundtracks are pre-baked to sound "optimal" anywhere from 6dB to even 16dB lower than the theatrical mix and going above that makes them hard to listen to as certain elements are then "too loud". There are no "standards" (beyond the seemingly common 8 foot speaker distance used) to what is changed. It's all up to the team doing the work. But this guy suggests that if they did turn in a Theatrical Mix and label it "near field" someone's head would roll. The Studios are convinced it will affect sales if they use the Theatrical Soundtracks like they did before the year 2000, but instead of aiming for the people who CARE about the soundtrack the most (high-end), they cater to the low-end that wouldn't know the difference instead! It's probably why Disney does 7.1.4 print-out "Atmos Lite" soundtracks too. Who cares about the handful of people going above 7.1.4 or that have rooms large enough that they actually "need" the extra speakers to cover the phantom imaging angles that are now much larger. Marketing BS always wins over common sense. TrueHD and Master-HD promised the studio quality masters, the same as the theater went the marketing hype. Except, that no, they're NOT the same as the theater mixes! They had already moved to "near field" mixes that often do more than they're supposed to (http://www.film-tech.com/ubb/f12/t001084.html
It's all about mass marketing. You're supposed to be able to set your listening level for movies at a STANDARD (and adjust for taste) and then leave it there (one of the goals of THX and Dolby "Standards" for levels, etc.), but I think most of us know that is simply no longer the case. In 2000, they abandoned that practice and went to this "near field" stuff that does whatever it wants instead. I have a version of The Matrix in Cinematic DTS (converted from the APT original cinema CD) and when compared to the new Atmos version and level matched for dialog, the sound effects are 6-8dB louder on the Cinematic version and oh boy, does it sound awesome on my setup compared to the Atmos version, which sounds kind of weak when you compare them at dialog matched levels. But The Matrix is a MINOR example. 6dB isn't the end of the world (although significant, IMO) and most people thought the Atmos version sounded great, but then they didn't have the Theatrical version to compare it to and thus don't realize what they're missing. Yes, that cinema version is LOSSY. So what? It still sounds better in terms of IMPACT than the new Atmos "home version". Yes, the latter adds some overhead effects, but Neural X does a good job adapting older soundtracks and personally, I'd take the dynamic range over positioning in that movie. Plus that's the version heard in theaters with DTS in 1999. And I think that should matter to people that want to see the ORIGINAL
STAR WARS and the like as it was at the theater in 1977, not some washed and rewashed and then cut to pieces and put back together again George Lucas editing. Why is the soundtrack less important than the picture?
People should be upset
that the true theatrical mixes generally ended around the year 2000 or so (save some exceptions like Paramount whom I read rarely changes the theatrical mix and according to an interview with someone from IMAX, the "Imax Enhanced" Blu-Rays will use the THEATRICAL MIX, not the near-field ones as the primary soundtrack on the discs! See: https://www.cepro.com/audio-video/in...r-skaaden-dts/
). Before 2000, generally ALL home theater mixes were the theatrical one. But that is probably why since then so many home mixes are so inconsistent now as some mixes get very little changed and others get completely screwed up (e.g. Back to the Future) as it's very subjective and up to the mixing guys how much they screw with the original (and in some cases award winning) soundtracks. But we almost never hear a peep about that in home theater forums. All we hear is whining about how streaming sucks and the occasional disc (e.g. Fast and the Furious 6) ABSOLUTELY SUCKS (to paraphrase some comments on the blueray.com site) because it used DTS-High Resolution Audio instead of DTS-Master Audio and so clearly is must be GARBAGE. There's ZERO AUDIBLE difference, but hey, who cares that it's a near-field mix that sounds nothing like the theatrical experience, but let's instead harp about an extremely high bit-rate "lossy" format that sounds not ONE IOTA different from the Master version.
People have even complained about Apple's ALAC LOSSLESS
format thinking it still loses "something" because it's half the file size of the WAV file version and people have to explain how lossless packing works and they still claim they think it sounds inferior to FLAC, despite all common sense. But not a peep about "Near Field" versus "Theatrical Soundtracks" that can sound similar or sometimes sound completely different based on the whims of a sound team or guy that may not even be the original one that made or mixed the soundtrack in the first place when it comes to remastering old soundtracks. No, the attitude there seems to be "We NEED near-field at home because we're in smaller rooms!" when that's horse crap. The ONLY factor that needs addressing (based on the size of your room and speakers) is the high frequency X-Curve which is typically taken care of by "Reference" on Audyssey products and "RE-EQ" on THX, etc.
In short, there's no need for a "near-field" soundtrack and in reality, it's often used to "dumb down" the track so they don't blow up cheap sound bars and the like (cough Disney). You can claim that's not the purpose of "near field" and that it's only to make the soundtrack sound good in smaller rooms sitting closer to speaker than a typical theater, but THAT is the MIX that gets screwed with. Besides, there's thousands of different rooms and configurations at "home". Some people have 50x50 rooms with 34 speakers and Trinnov and they aren't sitting "near field" (8 feet) at all. How can they mix for all those rooms and expect consistency? No, consistency would be using ONE mix and giving the hardware some tools to adjust it to match that standard (Audyssey, RE-EQ and the like along with dynamic range compression setting OPTIONS that can adjust the level for you if you find the theatrical mix to be too much).
But again, more importantly, with all the unneeded
foreign language soundtracks included (they can use subtitles or get discs for their region), it shouldn't even be a problem with lossless to include BOTH
Near-Field mixes, but that's the excuse I've seen when someone from the industry was asked at another forum. There's usually not enough space for both! I just bought "Death Machine" (1994) from Germany by Turbine and it's outfitted with Auro-3D soundtracks in both English and German (plus the original German and English stereo mixes also in lossless) and manages to fit on ONE disc. Perhaps that's because it only contains TWO languages (the original English and the subs for the market/country it's aimed at, Germany instead of trying to fit 6 languages on one disc and 50 subtitle sets). IMO, it all comes down to greed and the marketing nonsense and propaganda wins over common sense every single time.