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HDTV and deafening sound?

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HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by Katie Bush » Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:11 pm

Can anyone explain why it should be that HDTV channels (at least via satellite) are accompanied by deafening audio levels?

I've noticed this quite a lot over the last few weeks, and among the worst culprits are BBC2-HD and Channel 5-HD.

The standard definition versions of these channels have "normal" audio volume (as compared against other SD channels), but if I switch to the HD versions, it damn near blasts your hat off! Is it just assumed that if you want HD video, you must by default want a room filling din to go with it? :aac

Marion

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by nuvistor » Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:58 pm

Can't help but a quick look around the internet comes up with, HD too loud compared to SD to the opposite HD too Quiet compared with SD. It seems there are settings in the box that you can try but I get the feeling they were just trying anything to see if it worked.
I don't have that problem, my TV is very quiet, not found anything I want to watch, it's not been switched on for a month. ttt:

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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by Cathovisor » Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:07 pm

The sound levels are standardised across the broadcast industry at -23 LUFS. Pretty much every SD thing you watch will have been originated in HD now and the sound levels should remain the same even during down conversion from HD to SD: believe me, a LOT of work goes on behind the scenes to make absolutely sure this is the case. If a programme is originated in 5.1 surround sound (e.g. the recent Euro 2016 tournament, Strictly Come Dancing) it will get checked and checked again to make sure that it sounds correct in 2.0 (i.e. stereo).

This sounds like a setting awry somewhere in your domestic setup.

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by Katie Bush » Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:29 pm

Hi Mike,

I'll take your word on that, but you ought to be here when I land on an HD channel, and believe me, you'd know what I mean.

As to the receiver, it's a bog standard SKY+HD, and I haven't altered any settings, so unless SKY have been playing around (as they often do, overnight) and tweaked the software, there is a definite and vast disparity between SD and HD audio levels.

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by TVJON74 » Mon Jul 18, 2016 10:33 pm

Hi,
I've just tried it here and BBC2 HD is very very slightly louder in volume. CH5 HD is a bit more noticeable but by no means deafening.

PS. I'm using one of the later sky+ HD boxes with built in Wi-Fi connected via HDMI.

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by Cathovisor » Tue Jul 19, 2016 12:12 am

Katie Bush wrote:I'll take your word on that, but you ought to be here when I land on an HD channel, and believe me, you'd know what I mean.

Going back a very long time now - so long, my father was still alive - we bought an ex-demo Salora 24K77 from the local branch of John Lewis. Cracking telly (I still have it) but one thing that initially annoyed us - Dad especially - was how when you alighted on memory 3 (ITV) the set became incredibly loud. So I rang Salora and got a handbook from them gratis (they even offered me the service manual at the same time, would you believe?!) and it turned out that each channel memory position could also store all the user settings as well!! So we wound back the volume on memory position 3 and peace and harmony reigned once more...

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by colly0410 » Tue Jul 19, 2016 1:31 am

Both the Freeview+ HD box & the Virgin Tivo HD box are connected via HDMI cables to the telly, but the Virgin box is a lot louder. You can adjust the Freeview volume & I leave it on max, but the volume control on the tivo box controls the TV sound. I suppose the internal gubbins must be set up different. The tivo box is free with the broadband & phone but has almost the same channels as freeview..

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by dtvmcdonald » Tue Jul 19, 2016 3:13 pm

I've not noticed that in the US on over the air TV. On Bluray, yes.

But a question! On recent Bluray movies made in the UK (not the US) I simply
cannot understand the dialog in 5.1. The British accent is hopeless.
It sounds like mumbling. Harry Potter movies, especially Emma Watson, are worst.
If I switch to 2.0 its marginally OK.

If I go to my very carefully correctly set up 5.1 receiver and simply raise the
center channel 15 dB, then those British movies are perfectly intelligible,
balances still sound almost normal, just a bit center high. But
then I have to go back at the end and reset it to the proper level ... which
DOES sound right for US movies, over the air 5.1, and 5.1 channel
(or three channel) multichannel (Sony "single bit" system) music (symphonic) cds.

Is there some sort of different convention for movies in the US and Britain?

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by nuvistor » Tue Jul 19, 2016 5:12 pm

I don't know about Blue ray but poor sound quality is a problem for some programs.

see https://rts.org.uk/article/sounding-ina ... ong-dramas

This is a recent article from the Royal Television Society. I don't know if it's actors, poor sound mixing and from the article I am not sure the BBC know either.

Frank

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by Cathovisor » Tue Jul 19, 2016 6:00 pm

nuvistor wrote:I don't know about Blue ray but poor sound quality is a problem for some programs.

Ahem. ITYM "programmes". "Programs" are what computers run, or the colonials watch. :qq1

nuvistor wrote:see https://rts.org.uk/article/sounding-ina ... ong-dramas

This is a recent article from the Royal Television Society. I don't know if it's actors, poor sound mixing and from the article I am not sure the BBC know either.

Frank

I can safely say that it won't be the fault of my many sound colleagues, whom I know to strive constantly to get the best results given the material available. As that piece pointed out - if an actor mumbles his lines, turning up the mic won't fix it - he'll just be mumbling louder. And as was pointed out, it's not just a problem for the BBC.

When I started in broadcasting in the early 80s it was a common practice - especially in the old Television Music Studio - to route the mix through a typical domestic receiver's loudspeaker to check that an acceptable balance was being achieved, rather than what a pair of hand-built and calibrated loudspeakers were saying. In the RTS article mention is made of doing a "domestic check" using a domestic telly - good for them!

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by nuvistor » Tue Jul 19, 2016 6:27 pm

Hi, Cathovisor, points noted, I seem to have touched a sore point but to someone watching the programme it does not matter whose fault it is, the material becomes worthless to them if they cannot hear the dialogue.
This is from a BBC article were research was done to try and improve the legibility of speech. Unfortunately for some, not all, there is still a problem. A point is made about age related hearing loss, it's a fair point but should not an excuse for poor sound. Some problems are there to those with normal hearing.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tv/2011/03/i ... loud.shtml


Frank

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by Niall » Tue Jul 19, 2016 8:06 pm

Cathovisor wrote:When I started in broadcasting in the early 80s it was a common practice - especially in the old Television Music Studio - to route the mix through a typical domestic receiver's loudspeaker to check that an acceptable balance was being achieved, rather than what a pair of hand-built and calibrated loudspeakers were saying. In the RTS article mention is made of doing a "domestic check" using a domestic telly - good for them!


While not relevant to Marion's issue, I think the above is at the root of the intelligibility issue, because it has got worse from two directions simultaneously.

Not so long ago most people were listening to a domestic TV in a decent sized wooden cabinet, the speaker was while not hifi quality at least a sensible size and facing the user. Most current TVs have tiny speakers in flimsy plastic cabinets facing anywhere but towards the user.

From the other side, the audio bandwidth and dynamic range of the source material has increased due both to improvements in technology and the demand from a new section of the audience who are listening through systems capable of reproducing it.

The two just aren't compatible! You either have something which sounds thin and peaky on a proper system or rattle the tiny TV speakers to bits.

They could do something about the relative levels, though. You don't have to listen long with a decent system to start thinking about adding a compressor / limiter to it. The problem is the between programme material, whether it's adverts on commercial channels or idents / promos on the BBC, the levels are ridiculously high relative to the surrounding programmes.

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by Cathovisor » Tue Jul 19, 2016 8:33 pm

Niall wrote:They could do something about the relative levels, though. You don't have to listen long with a decent system to start thinking about adding a compressor / limiter to it. The problem is the between programme material, whether it's adverts on commercial channels or idents / promos on the BBC, the levels are ridiculously high relative to the surrounding programmes.

This is why the LUFS scale was introduced - it measures average loudness, not peak loudness. And as we have discussed before, judicious use of a limiter/compressor can still make your stuff louder than everyone else's!

https://downloads.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp ... WHP202.pdf

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by raditechman » Tue Jul 19, 2016 8:43 pm

I think Niall has given a good answer.
Comparing with cinema, up to the mid 1950's films were mono with optical sound tracks, not too much dynamic range or frequency response. Audiences heard the dialogue OK.
From 1953 Twentieth Century Fox started releasing CinemaScope films, which in some cinemas were shown with 4 track magnet sound tracks. Audiences found the dialogue harder to hear. ( I even know of one cinema that would switch over to the stand by mono optical track if they got complaints from the audience).
Of course when in magnetic stereo the sound was better quality, but the sound was not just coming from one centre speaker behind the screen, and the early films tried to keep the sound stage following the actors on the screen meaning dialogue moved about. There were also effects sounds from speakers around the cinema.
Even today in a modern cinema with multiple digital sound channels it is harder to follow the dialogue, than in the old days of one channel and clear speech.
Plus the youngsters seem to like the sound loud!.
With TV in stereo, or 5.1 the same problems arise.
As there is the possibility with TV broadcasting today to have more than one audio channel with a station, perhaps the broadcaster should provide a full dynamic range stereo or 5.1 audio channel for those who appreciate it, and for the same programme a mono, limited dynamic and frequency range audio channel for those just using the small speakers in a modern TV.

John

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by nuvistor » Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:08 pm

Today's cinema sound is terrible, all bass, too loud, I watch little TV as it is but if TV tries to emulate that I will just give it up completely.
I gave the cinema up due to the sound systems, came out with ear ache once too many times.

Frank

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by Cathovisor » Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:11 pm

raditechman wrote:Plus the youngsters seem to like the sound loud!.
With TV in stereo, or 5.1 the same problems arise.
As there is the possibility with TV broadcasting today to have more than one audio channel with a station, perhaps the broadcaster should provide a full dynamic range stereo or 5.1 audio channel for those who appreciate it, and for the same programme a mono, limited dynamic and frequency range audio channel for those just using the small speakers in a modern TV.

John

A bit of me thinks though: why should the broadcasters compromise to overcome the shortcomings of modern reproducing equipment? It's not the broadcaster's fault the manufacturers are fitting sub-standard reproducers in their TVs! Television is now watched on instruments as diverse as smartphones and tablets up to large panels hooked up to multi-channel home cinema systems, via small screen sets with 28mm diameter speakers and panels with sound bars fitted. Plus people with CRT sets with decent speakers. How do you achieve a happy medium for all that?

Also, another audio channel uses bandwidth in the transport stream that could be used for something else: already there is an audio description channel used in the average TS in addition to the normal programme sound.

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by nuvistor » Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:32 pm

Cathovisor wrote:
A bit of me thinks though: why should the broadcasters compromise to overcome the shortcomings of modern reproducing equipment?


Well I suppose it comes down to whether the broadcaster wants to stay relevant and keep broadcasting. I don't know numbers but I would not be surprised if most equipment used for viewing, TV's, laptop computers, mobile phones etc do not have HiFi audio or anywhere close to it. If the broadcasters want to aim at an audience with only hifi range equipment they run the risk of losing viewers.
I don't class sound bars, bass units etc that seem to be used for watching films etc HiFi.

Jamaica Inn lost about a third of its viewers through poor sound, can any station afford that. The DVD that's available has a comment that the sound problems are not present on the DVD, ie. they have to state it so has not to lose sales.

It does not matter to me and probably many others if they find the station unpleasant to use, we just find something else to do.
Frank

 
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Re: HDTV and deafening sound?

Post by Refugee » Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:54 pm

There are a few points to be made here.
Lets go for the jumping sound levels.
My experience of this issue came up with low audio on program material accompanied but correct sound on the advertising. It is a simple problem with the marketing men whom will go strait into denial if challenged.

The cinema sound involves several factors.
As has already been said mono was a simple 15 inch cone behind the screen. This is no problem but why?
The external ears of almost all warm blooded living things are quite complex and the raw data includes directional information once it has been collected.
The mind has compression and direction nulling built in so that the noise from confectionery wrappers can easily be wiped out allowing the sound to remain legible.
With basic stereo with just two speakers the directional part of the hearing can track the dialogue as the eyes follow the characters across the screen. Most of these would be 7.5 IPS magnetic tape quality.

Then came those rear speakers with all there issues.
The first thing these do is to "drag" your mind out of directional mode and if the sound is not mixed to carry some of the dialogue to the rear speakers during sound effects snippets of it become at risk of being missed. Distracting the direction element of the hearing also allows confectionery packaging noise to get in.
Some early I-Max cinemas suffered with large numbers of disappointed customers. One on the south coast almost got pulled down not long after it opened. Someone needs to put a lot of effort into working with the mind and its own directional audio features and not against it. Remix the audio right and it will be a lot better.
I have over the years come to the conclusion that the marketing men think that hearing the sound of the confectionery packaging will generate an urge to go and buy you own snack. This will to some extent have a negative effect on all that expensive work Dolby labs did when I-Max was created.
Those film producers come from the arts arm of the education system while the hardware designers come from the science arm of the education system. There is a basic compatibility and communication issue here.


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