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Hi there, I'm hoping I can get some help. I am completely frustrated with watching movies where I cannot hear the voices, yet the music and explosions wake up my entire household.


I have read and learned about dynamic range compression, and I understand that this is what I need to implement. I have made my best efforts, but so far I still have not found a way to implement this effectively.


First off, no, my receiver does not have any such settings, so that's out.


My playback device is my main desktop PC. I'm using an external USB soundcard (Hercules DJ Console MK2) to run RCA cables into my receiver (a Yamaha, can't remember the model number off the top of my head) into the V-Aux inputs on the front of the receiver.


I have tried using various media players, such as Windows Media Player 10 (or maybe 11... whichever is default for Windows XP Pro w/ SP2 [or maybe SP3, lol... sorry for being so disorganized, I'm at work]) and Media Player Classic. With WMP, I have turned on the Quiet mode, and selected "Little Difference" between loud and quiet sounds, and it seems to make no difference at all. With MPC, I attempted to adjust the AC3 sound settings, following a tutorial I found online, but it still did not make any difference. I've spent entire evenings on this, so this is definitely not from a lack of me trying.


Can anyone please recommend me any media players, codecs, settings (specific, right down to exact values, if possible), etc? Anything short of me having to go out and buy a new receiver. Or, can anyone tell me that if I *do* go buy a new receiver (I'm welcome to suggestions on brands/models... particularly ones on the lower budget scale), will it give me the results I'm looking for? If so, then screw it, I'll spend the $ for peace of mind.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvrgeek /forum/post/16922882


Old DBX units off e-bay or Pro sound limiters/compressors. Lots out there. You will not find this function in ANY receiver.

Incorrect.


First off, DBX is a compression/expansion system designed to reduce tape noise. It would accomplish nothing. Any generic limiter/compressor works by just clamping down on the peaks when they exceed a certain level. Very crude.


Dolby Late Night Mode is a compressor for just the OPs purpose that has been around in AVRs for years. My 10 year old Marantz AVR has it as does my brand new Onkyo TX-SR706 AVR. Any AVR that decodes Dolby Digital has it, maybe even the OPs Yamaha.


The latest generation of AVRs coming out now incorporate Dolby Volume which is a very sophisticated system to control dynamics. Audyssey has also introduced Dynamic Volume which functions in a similar manner and works in conjunction with Audyssey room correction and Dynamic EQ.


Receivers from Denon, Onkyo, Marantz, and many others incorporate one or more of these features.
 

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First, have you calibrated your system.


Second, what are the acoustics in your space like?


These are the two major universal reasons people have problems with content that has the dynamic range of film. Address these issues, and your problems will go away.


If you can't address these fundamental problems (mainly acoustical), then compression modes are a solution if you're not that concerned about the original theater experience. Or just turn up the center channel a whole bunch.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles /forum/post/16923295


First, have you calibrated your system.


Second, what are the acoustics in your space like?


These are the two major universal reasons people have problems with content that has the dynamic range of film. Address these issues, and your problems will go away.


If you can't address these fundamental problems (mainly acoustical), then compression modes are a solution if you're not that concerned about the original theater experience. Or just turn up the center channel a whole bunch.

Yes, claibration and acoustics will help, but they will not make the problem go away as you claim.


When the explosions start happening, sometimes the only solution is to turn things down (not in my house though
). And when you do that, EVERYTHING gets turned down to the point that the quiet parts become too quiet. At that point, one of the SOPHISTICATED schemes like I mentioned needs to come into play.


Yes, you could turn the center up, but that is only a band aid and does not address the fundamental problem - the extremely wide dynamic range of the movie.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesky636 /forum/post/16922957


Incorrect.


First off, DBX is a compression/expansion system designed to reduce tape noise. It would accomplish nothing. Any generic limiter/compressor works by just clamping down on the peaks when they exceed a certain level. Very crude.


Dolby Late Night Mode is a compressor for just the OPs purpose that has been around in AVRs for years. My 10 year old Marantz AVR has it as does my brand new Onkyo TX-SR706 AVR. Any AVR that decodes Dolby Digital has it, maybe even the OPs Yamaha.


The latest generation of AVRs coming out now incorporate Dolby Volume which is a very sophisticated system to control dynamics. Audyssey has also introduced Dynamic Volume which functions in a similar manner and works in conjunction with Audyssey room correction and Dynamic EQ.


Receivers from Denon, Onkyo, Marantz, and many others incorporate one or more of these features.

Wrong. DBX did make noise reduction units, they also made ( make) limiters and linear compression devices fro pro sound. I have OWNED them. DBX 119, 3Bx etc.in consumer goods for a start.
 

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BTW, all that AVR stuff is nothing more than fancy "loudness" controls from the specifications I have seen. Useful, but not what the OP was asking. If any on them do in fact do effect the dynamic range, please point me to that device.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvrgeek /forum/post/16926747


BTW, all that AVR stuff is nothing more than fancy "loudness" controls from the specifications I have seen. Useful, but not what the OP was asking. If any on them do in fact do effect the dynamic range, please point me to that device.

Then I suggest you go back and re-read the specifications again, because you are, quite simply, wrong. Or just stick with your antiquated limiters and compressors. Its the 21st century now, you know.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvrgeek /forum/post/16926734


Wrong. DBX did make noise reduction units, they also made ( make) limiters and linear compression devices fro pro sound. I have OWNED them. DBX 119, 3Bx etc.in consumer goods for a start.

And they are old, outdated technology, totally useless in a modern home theater.
 

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You have 3 options:


1. Acoustic treatment, primarily absorption, which improves speech intelligibility by reducing reverberation times in your typical untreated, too-live room.


2. A new receiver which has night mode dynamic range compression. This function is very specialized (it compresses higher and lower than the Dolby "dialnorm" level), and has to be integrated into the guts of the signal processing. But fortunately, it is cheap in today's receivers, and is standard in even low-end equipment.


3. Any codec which fully supports Dolby AC3. I don't know specifics, but I think AC3Filter will work with Windows Media Player:

http://www.free-codecs.com/download/ac3_filter.htm


- Terry
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesky636 /forum/post/16927193


And they are old, outdated technology, totally useless in a modern home theater.

Yes, the 119 is old, but it did EXACTLY what he OP was asking. Price of used old DBX may suggest they were not as bad as you seem to think.


Much more appropriate would be modern compressors used every day in the studio, and in every recording you will ever hear in your HT or anywhere else for that matter.


I agree, room treatments can help a lot.
 

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Devices like the DBX 119 were downward compressors. They cut dynamic range by a certain ratio once you reached a certain "knee" voltage level.


The standard Dolby AC3 algorithm is more sophisticated. There is a similar cut a certain level of dBs above average dialog level. But there is also a boost below a certain lower level, with a dialog loudness range which remains linear. This is important for low listening levels and/or high ambient noise conditions.


Also, correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't the DBX 119 a single channel device, or stereo at best? That would make compression of modern 5+ discrete channels a rather expensive affair, even using the old DBX machines.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesky636 /forum/post/16924803




Yes, claibration and acoustics will help, but they will not make the problem go away as you claim.

If the system is sufficient, and the room is properly designed, they absolutely will. They don't compress in the mastering bay, and they don't compress in a commercial theater, and it sounds just fine if it's a high-quality sound system. It sounds just fine in my system, and in scores of well-designed HT systems I've been in. No problems whatsoever.

Quote:
When the explosions start happening, sometimes the only solution is to turn things down (not in my house though
). And when you do that, EVERYTHING gets turned down to the point that the quiet parts become too quiet. At that point, one of the SOPHISTICATED schemes like I mentioned needs to come into play.

Right. The reason you have to do that is because you had to turn it up too loud to hear the quiet parts intelligibly, which is almost always an acoustical weakness, compounded sometimes by system weaknesses

Quote:
Yes, you could turn the center up, but that is only a band aid and does not address the fundamental problem - the extremely wide dynamic range of the movie.

Of course it's a band-aid. So is compression. The wide dynamic range is not the problem, the problem is the playback environment and playback system is not capable of reproducing that dynamic range well. You are wrongly blaming the source content for the problem when it's the system that is the problem. The content is just revealing system weaknesses.
 

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I suggest you all do some research into the latest offerings from Dolby (Dolby Volume) and Audyssey (Dynamic Volume). These new tools are designed to do exactly what the OP wants, are available in many low priced AVRs, and won't take up half a rack of space.


DBX had great technology in the 70s and 80s, but that equipment is way behind the power curve of what can be had in a simple DSP chip in 2009.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisWiggles /forum/post/16929937


If the system is sufficient, and the room is properly designed, they absolutely will. They don't compress in the mastering bay, and they don't compress in a commercial theater, and it sounds just fine if it's a high-quality sound system. It sounds just fine in my system, and in scores of well-designed HT systems I've been in. No problems whatsoever.




Right. The reason you have to do that is because you had to turn it up too loud to hear the quiet parts intelligibly, which is almost always an acoustical weakness, compounded sometimes by system weaknesses




Of course it's a band-aid. So is compression. The wide dynamic range is not the problem, the problem is the playback environment and playback system is not capable of reproducing that dynamic range well. You are wrongly blaming the source content for the problem when it's the system that is the problem. The content is just revealing system weaknesses.

Not everyone can afford "well-designed HT systems." I would be willing to bet that the owners of dedicated HT systems are well in the minority. The majority of people have a "home theater" that doubles as a living room, den, family room (me), or something else. There are limits to what can be done when it comes to equipment (cost, space), room treatments (cost, spousal acceptance factor), etc. Many people, like the OP, are just looking to enjoy a movie at a reasonable level that won't wake the baby (I don't have that problem) or disturb the neighbors on the other side of the wall (don't have that problem either). In these cases, it is my opinion (and only my opinion) that the offerings from Dolby, Audyssey, and others that offer modern and sophisticated means of controlling a movie's dynamic range are far more effective and useful than finetuning whatever room you are using to watch your movies.
 

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I used to be very sanctimonious and pure about never recommending Dynamic Range Control.
Chris is right that it can be and often is used as a band aid for acoustical problems. But it has its proper use for casual listening at lower volume, when you simply don't want to devote all your attention to the listening experience.


I don't think Dolby Volume or Dynamic Volume adequately address this issue. They are designed for a different purpose -- to compensate for psychoacoustic frequency perception curves at varying loudness levels. They are definitely an improvement over simple linear volume control, because they maintain constant timbre at any volume. But it seems that one would still like to have the ability to engage DRC. You could then choose to listen at a lower level with a lesser or greater degree of "attention."


- Terry
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Montlick /forum/post/16930108


I don't think Dolby Volume or Dynamic Volume adequately address this issue. They are designed for a different purpose -- to compensate for psychoacoustic frequency perception curves at varying loudness levels. They are definitely an improvement over simple linear volume control, because they maintain constant timbre at any volume. But it seems that one would still like to have the ability to engage DRC. You could then choose to listen at a lower level with a lesser or greater degree of "attention."


- Terry

Sorry, Terry, but you too are incorrect in your understanding of the latest technologies from Audyssey and Dolbly.


First of all, you are confusing Audyssey's Dynamic Volume,

http://www.audyssey.com/technology/dynamicvolume.html


with Audyssey's Dynamic EQ,

http://www.audyssey.com/technology/dynamicEQ.html


They work together (with MultEQ) to solve two distinct things: dynamic range (Dynamic Volume) and room correction compensation over various volume levels. Dynamic Volume cannot be used without Dynamic EQ and neither can be used without MultEQ.


Dolby Volume,

http://www.dolby.com/consumer/techno...e-details.html


does dynamic range compression AND room frequency response compensation at various levels all in one package.


Both of these technolgies were introduced early this year/late last year and are available in a wide variety of AVRs and pre-pros from Denon, Onkyo, Marantz, and others. Take a look at the current Home Theater mag receiver issue for more information on who has what.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesky636 /forum/post/16930075


Not everyone can afford "well-designed HT systems." I would be willing to bet that the owners of dedicated HT systems are well in the minority. The majority of people have a "home theater" that doubles as a living room, den, family room (me), or something else. There are limits to what can be done when it comes to equipment (cost, space), room treatments (cost, spousal acceptance factor), etc. Many people, like the OP, are just looking to enjoy a movie at a reasonable level that won't wake the baby (I don't have that problem) or disturb the neighbors on the other side of the wall (don't have that problem either). In these cases, it is my opinion (and only my opinion) that the offerings from Dolby, Audyssey, and others that offer modern and sophisticated means of controlling a movie's dynamic range are far more effective and useful than finetuning whatever room you are using to watch your movies.

I agree with you. However, my point is that the large dynamic range in the content is not the problem. The room/system is the limitation. If you can't get around that limitation (many people rightly can't as you point out), then dynamic range compression features can be a very excellent solution.


It's important to understand that film soundtracks are mixed for a controlled theater environment, properly treated and properly calibrated. If your playback system and environment doesn't replicate that, then workarounds like turning up the center channel judiciously, and/or using DR compression is probably desireable.


I am a fan of using compression on cable-boxes and TV sources for many many people, less so and sometimes also on DVD/BD film sources if it's needed, when the system is not a dedicated theater.


I just would never want people to draw the wrong impression that the large dynamic range found in content is the problem, when it is not at all the problem, and is simply amazing when recreated in a proper cinema space that matches a high quality theater or the mastering studios.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry Montlick /forum/post/16930108


I used to be very sanctimonious and pure about never recommending Dynamic Range Control.
Chris is right that it can be and often is used as a band aid for acoustical problems. But it has its proper use for casual listening at lower volume, when you simply don't want to devote all your attention to the listening experience.


I don't think Dolby Volume or Dynamic Volume adequately address this issue. They are designed for a different purpose -- to compensate for psychoacoustic frequency perception curves at varying loudness levels. They are definitely an improvement over simple linear volume control, because they maintain constant timbre at any volume. But it seems that one would still like to have the ability to engage DRC. You could then choose to listen at a lower level with a lesser or greater degree of "attention."


- Terry

As bluesky points out, there's different things going on with audyssey.


First, there is Audyssey MultiEQ, which is just equalization of the system. (I use "just" lightly, it's actually very very impressive)


Second there is Dynamic EQ, which does what you describe, and is essentially a volume-based variable loudness control, and also varies the channel balance to maintain the surround envelopment better. (this also sounds simply amazing if you're listening below reference. It leaves everything flat and untouched at reference, and makes progressively larger compensations the farther you move below 0db)


Third they recently added Audyssey Dynamic Volume, which is a dynamic range compression feature, which compresses the DR (and does an excellent job of it. You can choose three modes of aggression, or you can actually customize it to a greater degree if you use AudysseyPRO which you pay for extra, which is the same feature set but calculated with greater precision on a laptop, and allows you manual EQ curve adjustment, etc.


Depending on the features supported by the product, you can utilize up to all three, but they build on one another. You enable Audyssey EQ for equalization of the speakers, then if you want you add Dynamic EQ, and then if you want you can enable dynamic volume.


I haven't followed Dolby Volume closely, so I'm not sure exactly what Dolby is doing, I was under the impression that it was only a dynamic range compressor/volume equalizer of some sort, but again I'm rather ignorant on what Dolby is doing, it may do more along the lines of what Audyssey is doing specifically with its Dynamic EQ, but I do not know.
 
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