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Backyard Theater - Outdoor Movies

Backyard Theater - Outdoor Movies  




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Author Topic: Surround Sound Quality Issues  (Read 9878 times)
yorkerK
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« on: July 29, 2013, 04:21:49 pm »

Hi All!,

Our new 18 foot wide screen and quick set-up has made this season of backyard movies so much better than last year where we dangled a used billboard tarp from the side of the house. My new concern is sound quality. I purchased a second Yamaha RX-V571 7/.1 surround sound system specifically for outside. It was an open-box purchase at Best Buy and was pretty cheep. It resides in the garage and I have permanently wired 5 low-end Radio Shack outdoor speakers (2 back, 2 front and 1 center screen).

Here’s my problem/s:
#1- It seems that depending on the devise, the sound volume is radically different. An example, we listen to music from an ipod, or laptop before the movie, then when we switch to a bluray / dvd player or our Direct TV DRV the sound has to be radically increased to hear anything. One night I had preset the sound levels earlier in the day for a bluray movie, then at the last minute people wanted to watch a movie we had on the DVR, again the volume needed to be dramatically changed.

Is this normal?

If so, how do others preset sound levels of a movie? I have needed to start the movie the guests selected, start it to adjust the sound, then restart movie once I finished tinkering with volume and different preset modes. Sorta takes a bit of the magic out of the experience. But that happens as well when I size the movie to the screen each night. I have to wait till it gets dark, start the actual film, then move the projector forward or backward and then level it. - arg!

#2 - Every movie we watch, no matter what device the sound quality and volume of the voice track fluctuates … tremendously. I thought that if you were watching a movie with surround sound that the voice track would generally come out of the front or center speakers. I go into each movie night with at least some apprehension and concern for the sound quality degrading the experience. It seems that no two movies we have watched has any consistency. In Abraham Vampire Slayer, the voice track frequently came more from the rear speakers, was muffled and so much lower that the music or ambient sounds in the movie, that I had to constantly use the remove to change the volume… very disturbing.

It this radical inconsistency with newer movies normal?

Thanks for your input,

York


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11visions
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2013, 05:13:49 pm »

The input level on a DVD or Blu-ray tends to be quite a bit lower than other sources and almost always must be raised. Your receiver might have an option to change the default volume level for different sources so I'd check that first to help even out the difference. You might also look for a setting on either your receiver or Blu-ray player for Dynamic Range Compression (DRC) or "Midnight Mode" which will boost the volume of the dialog in Dolby-encoded sources. I think we all deal with the problem of audio levels not being well balanced for outdoor use and there isn't too many ways to solve it perfectly.
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Phillip Hullquist
I toured the U.S. showing outdoor movies in 2010 on Carl's 16x9 screen.
Now I own eight commercial rental screens ranging from 9x5 to 30x17!
rawod
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2013, 10:22:03 am »

It may seem kinda dorky, but we connect our equipment in my living room and do sound (and video) checks (and queuing) prior to hauling our stuff to the next site.

The preamp volume control is numbered (1 - 15) and we note the correct number for each segment on our projection cue sheet.

This way we literally know exactly where the preamp's volume control needs to be for each and every segment we are going to show.
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The party, the people, the movie (and Hot Dogs)
bdwalker1
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2013, 12:27:47 pm »

York,

I too have found that different devices or different discs/files can have drastically different volume levels.  It would be nice if there was more consistency there.

Even though I rip my media to files for playback on my media player I still keep my remote in hand during a show to adjust volume as my playlist moves from file to file.
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yorkerK
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2013, 04:55:49 pm »

thanks for your input!

11visions: I did find Dynamic Range Compression (DRC) on the receiver, though it did not make much of a difference, but I still need to check about default settings for different sources.

rawod: what do you mean by each “segment”? Cartoon, Movie … or each segment of a movie?

bdwalker1: so it sounds my remote in hand approach is not unique. my Terk LFIRX RF Remote Control Extender could  have been useful for this, until I broke the flimsy antenna.

I gotta keep tinkering with this. The problem for me is being confident where the poor sound quality of the voice track is coming from, is it inherent to the bluray disc or recorded dvr, or is my settings. Since we don;t do this every weekend, and when we do show a movie, often there is not enough time in the afternoon to do pre sound checks.

I just thought maybe i should take an afternoon when we are NOT showing a movie, and test a number of different discs and recorded movies. Possibly I might learn more without the pressure of an actual screening. - It’s a work in progress.

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SR
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2013, 12:50:10 pm »

As many of you already know, I broadcast my sound so no speakers other than the ones in the radios that my theatre guest bring.   I have always had the same problem with sound volume variations.  After years of doing this, you begin to get some idea what is going to be loud and what is going to be quiet.

My system is to guess at my initial settings to where, I think it should be and then fine tune on the fly.  With in a few seconds of the movie starting I have it close, and after a few minutes I'm usually done fine tuning.  Though I suppose I have it easy, since I broadcast on AM me only adjustments are volume level, treble and bass.  If I switch to the FM system I'm working on it'll be a bit more interesting since it is on a rack mounted carrying casing with a compressor that I know very little about.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2013, 12:46:00 pm by SirRobyn0 » Logged

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TheAstronaut
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« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2014, 02:33:52 pm »

A common problem when going from surround sound to stereo is that a lot of players/software do not correct (or over correct) for the difference in gain (volume) between the sound channels. In DTS and above systems each channel has it's own volume level set by the sound engineer who did the surround mix. When a player down mixes that sample to stereo, if the center channel gain isn't boosted, then it will be quiet in comparison to the rest of the audio.

On the converse, if you are using a surround sound setup and find that the voice track is consistently lower than the rest of the sounds it is likely that you are not using a big enough center channel speaker. I had a similar problem when I moved from a small apartment to a new house where I was not sitting about 16' from the center speaker with only 3" drivers. After upgrading to a beefier center speaker with 6" drivers everything balanced out and voice tracks were no longer a problem.

I know this thread was last posted in almost a year ago, but I'm adding this response here for others who may have the same troubles.
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