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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
( edit by moderator Larry Davis: This thread was split off from another thread that is now labeled "Torture Tests for your HT Video system")

I'm stealing this "Torture test for sound imaging" from BasementBob's post in another thread, think it's worth it:

"My test for perfect imaging is in Gladiator in ch15 at 1:22.49 when they say "We who are about to die salute you." I was once in a store evaluating speakers and I heard 5 distinct locations for the voices. One left, one between left and center, one center, one between center and right, and one right. I was so shocked I reversed the DVD and played it again. I haven't heard it anywhere else, and I've tried. When I hear it again, I'll stop fiddling with imaging in my room."

5,002 Posts

I stole this from several places. I'm getting new speakers this week, so I anticipate trying these out soon.

Deep Bass DVDs

Digital Video Esentials Buzz and Rattle test 15hz to 300hz, Frequency Sweep 15hz to 20khz, Base Management Test 15hz to 150hz.

Titan AE

This is Dr. Hsu s current favorite demo disc. The starting scene is great, and so is Chapter 19, the creation of the New Earth.

The ice field (Ice Crystal scene) scene toward the end of this film will test the upper and lower extension of any sub.

U-571 (volume set to -20)

The depth charges scene has plenty of deep bass and mid bass.

Oh, so that's what depth charges are really supposed to sound like! Amazing! When they show the close-ups of the destroyer passing overhead with the props spinning - HANG ON. The final battle scene with the destroyer rattled several things off the shelves – in OTHER ROOMS.

"Depth Charges". During this passage, you had better batten down the hatches. With information extending down to 5 Hz, it's difficult for most subs to reproduce. The best subs will play it, while others simply ignore it (they don't respond that low). If you can feel the floor board ripping away from the joists, you have a good sub. Check the 3-D plot of part of this movie passage below. There are lots of sounds at 30 Hz with bits and pieces into 10 Hz

(...I opted not to use U571 because I felt that while it had a nice amount of low bass I found the other 5 channels lacking I wanted to see how the sub worked with the material as a whole.)

Toy Story 2 (Bob doesn't have this one)

Watch the opening scene, it is said to be one of the best tests for a subwoofer s ability.

The Haunting (DTS) (main volume set at -20 dB):

You also get very strong bass on this DVD. Coming mother scene was used

We saved the best for last. We have over 100 DVDs in our collection, including all the popular LFE bass busters – but the DTS version of The Haunting is STILL the absolute, undisputed, KING of ultra low end, super pumped up LFE. Whoever mastered the DTS version of this DVD must have been on drugs because it is INSANE with bass. This DVD will blow your mind at near reference levels with this SVS sub. The combination of low, LOW bass and the sheer SPL this DVD generates will scare you - literally SCARE YOU. We kept waiting for the sub to start showing signs of distress – IT DIDN'T HAPPEN. It just kept effortlessly belting out wave after wave of PURE VISCERAL MIND BLOWING NEAR SUBSONIC BASS. Stuff rattled off my shelves - upstairs, and picture frames through the entire house were off kilter. We recorded bass peaks of approximately 111 dB (!!) at the listening position. KILLER - TOTALLY KILLER.

Star Wars Phantom Menace Pod Race - (volume set at -15)

The pod race – amazing. The fly-bys have such DEEP after shocks they feel literally subsonic. The wave of energy is incredible, and one of the canyon exits registered 109 dB! Ditto on the light saber duels – especially when the bad guy gets cut in half - never heard half the stuff before.

Final Fantasy

This is also a great demo disc. It has incredibly deep bass in the dream sequences. Defaults to Prologic mode.

Event Horizon

One of Dr. Hsu s favorite demo discs. The bass in the starting scene is strong enough to break windows. Make sure you set it to 5.1 mode. In pro-logic mode, it is anemic.


This is a great demonstration disc. Deep bass is very strong through many parts of the movie. Dr. Hsu recommends using chapter 7. Also need to set to 5.1 mode. Defaults to Prologic.

True Lies

Chapter 31 I thought this look like your work has tremendous low frequencies in the 25-30 Hz range, generated by helicopters. With great subwoofers, it should sound like real helicopters hovering in your room. Again needs to be set to 5.1 mode.

Air Force One

This is another good demo piece. Again need to be set to 5.1 mode. Also has dialog.

Armageddon Criterion: (Bob has the regular version, not Criterion)

End scene when the asteroid blows up.

This DVD defaults to 5.1 mode. You get great bass in many of the scenes. The entire movie is a bass feast

Fight Club

Watch the Mid air collision scene, with a good subwoofer you can feel the air whizzing past you.

Saving Private Ryan (DTS) (master volume set at -20):

Battle scene explosions, and the tank buster/P-51 fly-over scene on the bridge (108 dB peaks) - I was RIGHT THERE with Hanks.

The Panzer attack near the bridge in the final chapters of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN rattled dishes in another room, and brought those rumbling tanks right on top of me. I also noted that a picture was hanging crooked on a wall upstairs. Almost like there had been an earthquake.

Cast Away (plane crash ch7)

Pearl Harbor airplane bullets hitting the bridge of ship: chapter 22 (no big surprise) at 1:30:11. These should sound very high frequency and be very loud and clear - a cross between hitting a cymbal and hitting two lengths of re-bar. My 1968 stereo doesn't do that, and neither does my Megaworks 510D 5.1. But the M&K S250's did.

Gladiator and Jurasic Park, often touted, actually crap for sound levels.

Lord of the Rings #1, Fellowship Of the Ring (volume set to -25)

This soundtrack is mastered on the “hot†side, so –25 gave me plenty of volume on playback. I never before heard the sub-20 Hz (actually goes to 10 Hz on waterfall charts) delayed reverb when the ring hits the ground in the opening battle scene. When the cave troll bursts into the room (109 dB peak on C-Weighted Fast setting at the listening position) and when he falls dead (108 dB), I thought the walls of my house were going to COLLAPSE. The falling bridge and rocks in the caverns and the fight with the fire demon are all VERY deep and powerful with many peaks in the 106-108 dB range.

One small nit to pick here. The scene where the Ring Wraith is trying to find Frodo and his friends under the tree root ball: There is a bass tone at 46:09 through 46:11 that actually caused the sub to vibrate itself against the floor and move an inch or two. Just to be clear - nothing on the sub itself was vibrating – this thing is built like a tank. This gives you an idea of not only how powerful this woofer is, but also how exceptionally rigid and strong the entire enclosure and assembly is. I don’t think this issue would ever show up on anything but a very hard, smooth, slippery and acoustically dead floor like mine. Anyway, I had a roll of generic Architectural grade truck cap foam tape with adhesive on one side and I simply turned the sub on its side and laid strips across the entire bottom plate, supplementing the three foam rubber feet supplied by SVS. This worked like a charm and completely damped the base plate from vibrating and moving in this scene. I recommend this easy modification if you purchase a PC+ and you will be placing it on a hard, smooth floor.

The Matrix (master volume set at -17):

The lobby chest punch (107 dB), the Morpheus knee drop sparring scene (108 dB), and the helicopter explosion (107-108 dB) were all MUCH deeper and stronger than I've ever heard before.

Chapter 15 49:00 ; "I know Kung Fu" During this fight sequence there are many sub items present. The drums should roll and sound clear. The fight sequence has many drops that contain sound at 20 Hz, some subtle. The music has synthesized bass all over. The large drums during the passage have a deep rumble that some subs will reproduce, others miss it entirely. When Neo falls to the floor, you should feel the impact in your chest. You will be wincing at this one.


Another of my favorite movies to test a subwoofer, even though it is not a very good movie in itself. The scene where explosions occur in the tunnel can bring many subs to their knees.

Independence Day - The Alien Attack !

Tomorrow Never Dies: Missile firing scene in the beginning and the explosions in the first 2 1/2 scenes

The Others (Bob doesn't have this one)

I would swear that heavy steps were thundering across the roof in my attic

Fantasia 2000 DVD (Bob doesn't have this one)

Chapter 2 "Symphony No. 5". As a classical piece, the low transients should be smooth and clear. The sub should show no signs of strain to reproduce the low notes. In this symphony, many of the bass notes are sharp and force full. It becomes VERY important for the sub to blend into the rest of the system, and keep up, as the music contains equal levels, and play instruments that will overlap from the sub range into the main speakers. With music it's very important to have listened to the sub, and adjusted the gain. Often you will prefer one gain setting for music and another for movies. With most new receivers you can change the sub levels for the stereo and 5.1 material independently, so double check your settings

Jackal DTS: Two scenes were used the one with Bruce Willis is testing the gun and shoots off the guys arm. And the scene where Bruce unloads the bullets at the first lady.

Iron Giant sat down - I felt him in Scene 8 (Bob doesn't have this one)

Other sound CDs: Alan Parson's Sound Check 2 Audio Test and Demonstration CD. Yello's The Race, Robin S's Luv 4 Luv

(Bob doesn't have this one) Then we come to the serious bass requirements - it's tough to beat a pipe organ for material down below 20 Hz. These are two waterfall plots from a Chandos Recording with a substantial title . . . "The Grainger Collection Volume 8, Works for Wind Orchestra Volume 2". This is of all things, The Irish Tune from County Derry (yes, Danny Boy). The arrangement is unique, with Grainger painting a much darker tone than is typical. They threw in a pipe organ on this track for good measure, and below are two plots starting on the left at about 3:50 and on the right, at about 5:30 into the track. Holy far left pedals Batman, this track will make most subwoofers scream for mercy! My reference subwoofer didn't quite make it to this point, and it certainly wasn't capable of the clean, deep output the SV managed. You're probably thinking ridiculously loud volumes, right? Nope - I'm talking 85 dB or so, measured at my seat. With the inaccuracy of the Radio Shack SPL meter at lower frequencies, it's more like 91 dB - 93 dB. As the frequency gets lower, you need more power to maintain a particular dB level.

One of my favorite home theater gadgets is an Audio Control Phase Coupled Activator. It takes a low frequency and creates a sub-harmonic at half that frequency. So, if the sound track has some 40 Hz explosion sounds, the PCA adds in some 20 Hz. This drives some subwoofers crazy

SVS SVS CS-Ultra (fierce, not clean) $2295 ( http://www.svsubwoofers.com/reviews.htm )

Velodyne HGS-18 (115lbs, 23.5x21.25x18.5) is one of the highest regarded subs in the world. It arrived at my door by way of semi, where they unloaded it on a pallet. It's big, it's beautiful, and how could anyone not like it? The HGS-18 uses a massive 18" driver and a nice 1,350 watt digital switching amplifier. At 105 pounds, the HGS is the daddy of subwoofers. $2995.

SuperCube 1 (63 lbs, 14 1/4"W x 14 1/4"D x 14 1/10"H) by DVD ETC "However, music playback proved to be one of this tiny sub's strongest suits earning it top rankings among the entire group. Adding to that, this sub pounds out bass notes with agression. It was almost comical to see the tiny sub parked next to the giant Velodyne HGS-18, slugging it out note for note. In the end, the Velo proved much louder, but it was a respectful bout nonetheless."

"The sound was totally under whelming! I could scarcely believe the thin bass. THIS was what people were raving about? It was disappointing to say the least. That is until ... I noticed that the power light was off. I had not turned it back on after changing its AC connection. Click. OH MY!!!!" said Guy Kuo - Ovation Software

"I was somewhat surprised that the manual didn't include more explicit installation instructions, and without my considerable expertise, I might not have been able to screw in the speaker spikes to the base-plate. Of course, all human males are genetically endowed with speaker-connecting abilities, so maybe it is no big deal."

"The reason I use multiple subwoofers is that they can all just be barely turned on, which gives room shaking bass but almost zero distortion."

For pictures of wave analysis of sub parts of movies, see

5,002 Posts
Audio Tests

I know this material well, and have heard it in lots of places, so it works for me.

Pearl Harbor @90:18 ch22 - the bullets going into the bridge consoles should be very high pitched impacts. If they sound mid frequency, that's wrong. Sorry, it's hard to explain.

Gladiator - voices at 83:35 and fingers snapping in ch15 should be crystal clear, because they are recorded that way. If you're in doubt, then your setup is wrong.

Toys 2:50

Saving Private Ryan surround bullets

Event Horizon 3 minute

2 fast 2 furious 9 minutes

Boys and Girls 0:35:30 music

1,159 Posts
Just popped in Event Horizon to check it out. Despite owning it for a while and actually really liking the movie this is the first time I have watched it on DVD....... and it was non-anamorphic :(. Oh well at least you guys werent kidding about that sound...... wow.

The only good surround effect I know of (that hasnt already been mentioned) is in Freddy Vs. Jason when the girl enters the barn there is a chain clanging on some pipes. First time I heard it I didnt even realize it was the movie and thought it was something hitting the futon frame (its metal). I'll get a chapter and time. One second.

EDIT: Its chapter 7 right at the 38 minute mark. Watching it again I realize how much surround there actuallly is. There is water dripping and other effects that sound very good.
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