Miscalculated DTS Releases?

 
Old 07-09-04, 02:34 PM
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Miscalculated DTS Releases?

Let me start off by saying that I love DTS tracks and in reality, the more the merrier. However, is anyone else a little confused or even miffed when a movie that does not stand to benefit a whole lot from a DTS track gets one?

The upcoming Billy Madison/Happy Gilmore rerelease comes to mind.
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Old 07-09-04, 03:15 PM
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I get miffed only when the space could have gone to better or more extras. The release of Glengarry Glen Ross is what I'm thinking of. That movie was 99% dialogue from the front speakers...did it really need an additional DTS track? There could have been some better features on that release...especially for a 2-disc set.
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Old 07-09-04, 04:56 PM
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no..that would be insane! why would anyone be miffed or confused? just because a DVD has the best possible soundtrack available.
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Old 07-09-04, 05:20 PM
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In the case of Universal, dts has become the "we don't have any real extras, so we'll throw on this" option. Packed special editions won't have dts anymore, but catalogue titles without any big treatment will get it... look at For Love Or Money, or The Money Pit...

As far as "miscalculated dts", I think it's only a problem when it's an older film that didn't need a remixed soundtrack at all, and actually worsens the sound by using it... Jaws, anyone?
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Old 07-09-04, 07:19 PM
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Featuring BOTH Dolby AND DTS 1.0 Mono

Why???
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Old 07-10-04, 02:40 AM
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DTS mono??? WTF??
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Old 07-10-04, 03:51 AM
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Dudley Do-right fer chrissakes.

But I can't even get The Mummy Returns in DTS!!
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Old 07-10-04, 12:29 PM
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One of the advantages I normally notice with DTS is clearer dialogue so DTS in a dialogue driven film can be a very good thing. Conversely, I have some action movies that sound better in DD (more powerful LFE). I've said it before but, don't just assume the DTS track is better. Check for yourself. A well done DD track can sound much better than a poorly done DTS track (and vice versa obviously). And don't just assume because a film isn't an action movie that DTS is a waste.
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Old 07-10-04, 01:46 PM
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I always enjoy a DTS track on any DVD but many times the decision makers don't have a clue.
One of the big reasons I went region free. Can't limit myself to what's put out in R1.
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Old 07-12-04, 01:55 AM
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Originally posted by Dammit
One of the advantages I normally notice with DTS is clearer dialogue so DTS in a dialogue driven film can be a very good thing. Conversely, I have some action movies that sound better in DD (more powerful LFE). I've said it before but, don't just assume the DTS track is better. Check for yourself. A well done DD track can sound much better than a poorly done DTS track (and vice versa obviously). And don't just assume because a film isn't an action movie that DTS is a waste.
First off I will say that I agree with you on one point - that the skill of the engineers doing the encoding will make a big difference in the quality of the sound.

However, it's not likely that the dialogue was really any clearer on a DTS track in a dialogue-driven film. The advantage that the DTS format itself has is less compression loss, but this applies more at extreme high frequencies - dialogue doesn't present a challenge to either format.

What most likely happened was that the DTS track was recorded at a higher level than the DD track - it almost always is - and without any explosions to bottom out your subwoofer, it wasn't as obvious. The human ear will ALWAYS think a louder sound is better - even if the difference is only a decibel or two. (This has been demonstrated over and over in tests). The most extreme example I have seen of this is X-men 1.5 - by my rough earball estimate, the DTS track was 9-10 dB louder than the DD. In one review I read, the reviewer called the DD track "anemic", whereas when I equalized the levels as well as I could, I thought they sounded about the same (excellent). This leads me to strongly suspect that the reviewer (and many people in general) never equalized the levels properly.

In reality, there is no audible difference between the formats (to humans anyway), when encoded with exactly the same signal. This was demonstrated in a carefully-controlled test done by a major studio a few years ago, to determine which format would be used in the DVD release of a major film. There is a member of another forum I frequent who participated in this, along with more than 40 other industry pros. None of these people - who did exactly this kind of thing for a living - could hear a difference a statistically meaningful percentage of the time. This test was done under conditions which could never be duplicated in a private home (without sophisticated equipment) - it was a double-blind ABX test with levels equal within .1 dB. This is the only way to do a definitive test - humans have a very short auditory memory, only a few seconds - unless you are able to instantaneously switch sources, any such comparisons are pretty much meaningless.

Many DVD reviews I have read will say the DTS track has better separation, more active surround usage, more detail, ambiance, etc. Now this I can believe, and could be the result of a bunch of engineers sitting around carefully remastering an existing DD track, saying "You know - this would sound good with a little more kick to the explosion" or "We need to make the crickets and bullfrogs louder to enhance the ambiance". I would think that the remastering engineers have a big advantage when they have an existing DD track to improve upon

Just for curiosity - what DVD have you heard where the LFE track was stronger than the DTS track? I don't recall ever having heard anyone say that before (except for the defective first pressing of Jurassic Park) - in fact, it is nearly always the opposite, at least where the DTS track was added later.

Last edited by NCYankee; 07-12-04 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 07-12-04, 11:11 AM
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Originally posted by NCYankee
The most extreme example I have seen of this is X-men 1.5 - by my rough earball estimate, the DTS track was 9-10 dB louder than the DD. In one review I read, the reviewer called the DD track "anemic", whereas when I equalized the levels as well as I could, I thought they sounded about the same (excellent). This leads me to strongly suspect that the reviewer (and many people in general) never equalized the levels properly.
I've also volume level matched the two tracks on X-Men 1.5, and I still found the DTS track to be a substantial improvement over the thin-sounding DD 5.1 track on my equipment. I didn't care for that DD track on the original X-Men DVD either. Even at excessively high volumes it doesn't sound as 'full' or detailed as the DTS track set to an audibly and measurably lower volume.

I don't pretend to be an audiophile or have professional-grade gear, but I know what sounds better in my home environment, and in this case the DTS track wins by a large margin. Your mileage may vary.
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Old 07-12-04, 04:00 PM
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DTS is better :)

If I had a choice between a well recorded DTS dvd with not one single extra and a 4 disc set with the directors thoughts, commentary from the crew and outtakes I will take the Single DTS DVD every single time. I know the film bugs out there will make the other choice but wouldn't it be nice to get that choice? I just want to enjoy the actual movie in the best video/audo production available.

Everyone is entitled to like what they want about a film - myself, I go to escape and enjoy a story with some good audio visuals. I really don't care if the key grip stubbed his toe during the third scene of a movie. The fact that the marble bust on the piano was really just papier mache really doesn't effect my ability to enjoy a film nor does it increase my appreciation of the film. Sometimes the more you study art, the less magical it can seem.

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Old 07-12-04, 07:38 PM
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The advantage that the DTS format itself has is less compression loss, but this applies more at extreme high frequencies - dialogue doesn't present a challenge to either format.
The only problem with that conclusion, aside from the actual compression ratio of DTS compared to Dolby Digital being completely meaningless due to efficiency differences in the two codecs, is that DTS at the most often ysed data rate, 754 kb/s, is only flat to ~15 kHz while Dolby Digital at it most often used data rate, 448 kb/s, is flat to 20 kHz.

I've also volume level matched the two tracks on X-Men 1.5, and I still found the DTS track to be a substantial improvement over the thin-sounding DD 5.1 track on my equipment.
If that is the case, and for the sake of discussion I'll take your word for it, then someone screwed something up. Either the master was manipulated for the DTS encoding or the Dolby Digital encoding was flawed, Either way, it is wrong. The soundtrack encoded on DVD, or any other format, should be representative of the intentions of the filmmakers, not what some marketing guy or disc producer thinks a certain DVD-buying demographic wants to hear.

For me personally, when I watch X-Men, it is on D-Theater with a 576 kb/s Dolby track that is audibly superior to the DVD, both DTS and Dolby.

When all factors are kept equal (as they should be), the audible difference between DTS and Dolby Digital at appropriate bitrates is extremely subtle. So subtle that even trained professionals on mixing stages can barely discern the differences. In the average living room on most consumer-grade audio gear, the difference (the real difference, not the one you think you hear) is virtually non-existent. No matter what you think you hear.

This, of course, does not apply to those few much-touted instances where the DTS track is quite obviously taken from a different master, or differently prepared master, than the Dolby track.

Last edited by Robert George; 07-12-04 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 07-12-04, 09:06 PM
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When all factors are kept equal (as they should be), the audible difference between DTS and Dolby Digital at appropriate bitrates is extremely subtle. So subtle that even trained professionals on mixing stages can barely discern the differences. In the average living room on most consumer-grade audio gear, the difference (the real difference, not the one you think you hear) is virtually non-existent. No matter what you think you hear.

This, of course, does not apply to those few much-touted instances where the DTS track is quite obviously taken from a different master, or differently prepared master, than the Dolby track.
True.

It's amazing how well marketing works. Create a higher volume level and an attractive red logo and people demand it.
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Old 07-12-04, 09:35 PM
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Originally posted by Robert George
The only problem with that conclusion, aside from the actual compression ratio of DTS compared to Dolby Digital being completely meaningless due to efficiency differences in the two codecs, is that DTS at the most often ysed data rate, 754 kb/s, is only flat to ~15 kHz while Dolby Digital at it most often used data rate, 448 kb/s, is flat to 20 kHz.
What I meant was that DTS has advantage in channel separation and high-frequency imaging, since due to compression Dolby mixes channels starting as low as 10 KHz. In any respect, there are not many frequencies above 15 KHz in many movie soundtracks I have heard, and most adults don't hear much of anything above that point.

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Old 07-12-04, 11:36 PM
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One pathetic misuse of DTS are 5.1 remixes on mono films. Small cult film companies really suffer from this waste of money as do major studios.

I Spit On Your Grave in 5.1 DD & DTS is just laughable. Even worse,you can not skip the elborate logos for both sound systems before the film! Which is annoying,since I view the film in its original great sounding mono thank you very much!

Besides the film is pratically silent throughout the films,so their was no real use for a 5.1 mix in DD or DTS which sound terrible in the first place.
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Old 07-12-04, 11:49 PM
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What I meant was that DTS has advantage in channel separation and high-frequency imaging, since due to compression Dolby mixes channels starting as low as 10 KHz.
First off, I will state that I think we agree more than not, so we are really just picking nits here, however...

The process of "channel coupling" you are referring to is actually rather more complex than simply "mixing channels". Additionally, the 10kHz number refers to AC-3 5.1 encoded at 384 kb/s. At 448, the channel coupling, when it occurs, is above 15kHz. It is also worth noting that at bit rates above 448, AC-3 can be fully discrete up to 20 kHz, which is one of the factors I credit D-Theater soundtracks with for superior soundstaging. So, while DTS chose to roll off frequencies above 15 kHz with their coder, Dolby instead felt these upper frequency fundamentals were important enough to keep and instead use channel coupling to improve efficiency when necessary.

In any respect, there are not many frequencies above 15 KHz in many movie soundtracks I have heard, and most adults don't hear much of anything above that point.
I suppose that may be the most debatable point you have made, but there is enough truth in it for me to not bother except to say that while I know most human's upper limit of audibility is somewhere in the 18 kHz range, and rather less for many people, there is no evidence I have seen that would lead me to conclude that removing the uper frequency funamentals in audio is completely inaudible. I know a 25 Hz frequency is inaudible to most people, but removing it from an audio track will cetainly change the preception of the sound. I believe the same is true for the upper end of the spectrum.

It's amazing how well marketing works.
Yes, I would refer to the pop philosophy of Thomas Dolby (no relation ) to explain how the uninformed can be "blinded by science", particularly when that science is nothing but smoke and mirrors. They just don't know any better but they want to be cool.
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Old 07-12-04, 11:58 PM
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Originally posted by Robert George
First off, I will state that I think we agree more than not, so we are really just picking nits here, however...

The process of "channel coupling" you are referring to is actually rather more complex than simply "mixing channels". Additionally, the 10kHz number refers to AC-3 5.1 encoded at 384 kb/s. At 448, the channel coupling, when it occurs, is above 15kHz. It is also worth noting that at bit rates above 448, AC-3 can be fully discrete up to 20 kHz, which is one of the factors I credit D-Theater soundtracks with for superior soundstaging. So, while DTS chose to roll off frequencies above 15 kHz with their coder, Dolby instead felt these upper frequency fundamentals were important enough to keep and instead use channel coupling to improve efficiency when necessary.



I suppose that may be the most debatable point you have made, but there is enough truth in it for me to not bother except to say that while I know most human's upper limit of audibility is somewhere in the 18 kHz range, and rather less for many people, there is no evidence I have seen that would lead me to conclude that removing the uper frequency funamentals in audio is completely inaudible. I know a 25 Hz frequency is inaudible to most people, but removing it from an audio track will cetainly change the preception of the sound. I believe the same is true for the upper end of the spectrum.



Yes, I would refer to the pop philosophy of Thomas Dolby (no relation ) to explain how the uninformed can be "blinded by science", particularly when that science is nothing but smoke and mirrors. They just don't know any better but they want to be cool.
Yeah yeah yeah - I know all that, just testing ya

Yeah - I'm a sucker for the cool factor. I just love the old "flying discs" intro for DTS. The piano intro they use now is boring. The only DD intro I have ever seen was on my "Near Dark" DVD - it had what looked like ancient Egyptian ruins - but it was pretty cool, very deep bass.

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Old 07-13-04, 11:27 AM
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Originally posted by Robert George
If that is the case, and for the sake of discussion I'll take your word for it, then someone screwed something up. Either the master was manipulated for the DTS encoding or the Dolby Digital encoding was flawed, Either way, it is wrong.
As I said, I wasn't particularly fond of that DD track when it was on the first X-Men DVD either. I own a lot of DVDs with excellent DD 5.1 tracks. That one specifically I always found disappointing. That the DTS track is better in this case I chalk up to mixing or mastering problems with the DD 5.1. This really says nothing about either format one way or the other, other than to counter the previously-stated opinion that the two tracks were identical on the X-Men 1.5 DVD.
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Old 07-13-04, 03:36 PM
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Originally posted by Robert George

Yes, I would refer to the pop philosophy of Thomas Dolby (no relation ) to explain how the uninformed can be "blinded by science", particularly when that science is nothing but smoke and mirrors. They just don't know any better but they want to be cool.
Remember when everyone railed on Dolby about how it wasn't that much better than stereo or any other company's formats? Now Dolby is the "boring, crappy" sound system. Silly marketers and people who follow them.
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