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Cinemas: What processors do they use for 5.1 sound?

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by tk2001, Sep 18, 2003.

  1. tk2001

    tk2001
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    I don't remember this topic been covered before so I thought that I'd post it seeing as I want to know the answer to this myself.

    I pop to my local cinemas at least every fortnight to watch a movie (either Showcase or Warner-Village) and the sound from the auditoriums can range from poor to great but never :eek: 'Wow, this sounds unbelievable'.

    Does anyone know what processors are used in cinemas and how do they fare against consumer processors such as Lexicon, Meridian, TMA, Arcam, Bryton etc?

    Can the best home cinema processors rival or beat the best processors in luxury cinemas?
     
  2. sticker

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    I can't comment on what they use in cinema's, but I haven't yet heard one that matches lets alone beats a well setup HC (IMHO).

    Regards
    John
     
  3. ANDY_DUTTON

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    Most Cinemas use Dolby equipment. Dolby don't produce any equipment for the consumer market but they make a range of processors for cinemas. See www.dolby.com for more info.

    With cinema processors I think they tend to concentrate on convinience adaptability and durability rather than sound quality.

    Andew Dutton.
     
  4. kryten

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    I'm not convinced Cineworld in Swindon use any! I've been to a few films in the last couple of months and not noticed anything coming from the sides/rear at all!

    T3 was awful - only really showed up how bad it was when I went with a mate to see it at the Odeon in Leicester - massive difference and even the adverts before the feature sounded far better!

    Leaves me with a painful decision - small screen, excellent sound and a 6 month wait for the DVD or big screen and awful sound :(
     
  5. ChrisA

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    There's no question in my mind kryten - I'd rather wait and see it at home every time. Last film I went to see was Die another day at the local UGC and the sound was painful - no balance at all and extremely harsh treble. I was very pleasenlty surprised to see how much better the picture was at home when the DVD arrived. Of course this was to be expected from DVD but it had been months since I'd last been to the cinema. Of course the CGI bits looked less obvious on the small screen too.

    Mind you, it's kiling me not having seen Matrix reloaded yet!

    Regards

    C
     
  6. avanzato

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    You can buy the professional processors S/H at Future Projections

    Basically it's Dolby for AC3, DTS for DTS and Sony for SDDS.
     
  7. tk2001

    tk2001
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    Hmmm...

    When I went to watch T3 at showcase, it was actually one of the few times where I enjoyed the overall experience and part of that was down to the sound quailty of the film which I thought was very good. There were alot of moments in the film where you can here the surround speakers at work and the IFE channel was quite forceful too - no trouser flapping bass but still pretty good.

    There was an ocassion when I was really really impressed by processing abilities of a Cinema and that was when watching Harry Pottter: The Chamber Of Secrets. There was a scene in a classroom where little sprites (i think) popped up around the classroom and in the auditorium, you could literally hand pick and locate where each sprite was coming from - precision that I have yet to hear at home. But then I have yet to hear that movie on DVD lol.
     
  8. EvilMudge

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    The Potter films do have some very good surround mixing. It may also help that you have a really diffuse rear soundstage. I read somewhere (not one of the usual suspects I might add) that too much spatial information in the surrounds actually detracts from the placement of images in the front soundstage - overworking the brain I guess.:confused:
     
  9. avanzato

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    I think it's the Behind you! effect.

    If you hear a definite sound the brain tries to place it by you moving your head to get second reference as to where it originated.
    Watching a film you should be concentrating on the picture not looking round at the person behind you wondering why they aren't a little pixie eared sprite.

    Or did you mean something else?
     
  10. EvilMudge

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    That's the one Mat. Or more importantly what happens if you don't turn your head.
     
  11. buns

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    How big a room can a standard home processor deal with?

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  12. Jase

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    Last time I checked, my Denon KA1SE will let your speakers be a maximum distance of 4.5m from the listening position (for delay times etc). It actually goes higher than that but asks you to relocate the blinking speaker if it's too far away!. So you're looking at a max 9m by 9m room with a full complement of 7.1 (or 9.1) speakers.
     
  13. nathan_silly

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    MC-1 allows 5.9M to each speaker from the listening position,
     
  14. pwiles1968

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    I will give another vote for the awful cinema sound, the most convenient cinema for me (for parents to baby-sit) is at Rugby it is fairly new only a couple of years old but the sound is awful even the supposed EX approved screen which you have to pay extra for, the only advantage’s I found with that screen was the private bar and you can take beer in to the movie. Then again I can do that at home and the beer is cheaper and I can pause the movie to go for a pee which is essential after a couple of beers.
     
  15. owenw

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    Avanzato,
    Just been looking at that site
    Can real cinema amps, speakers etc be used for home theatre?

    Have people already tried using cinema projectors and got their hands on some 35mm reels?
     
  16. buns

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    thats a big room....... can a hc processor give the same surround presence in a big room as the real cinema..... given it has far fewer speakers......

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  17. avanzato

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    owenw: I would think the only thing stopping you from having a real cinema at home is getting hold of the films to play on it. Trailers crop up on eBay regularly but I don't know how you'd get to buy a whole feature film. I get the feeling that when they are sold on the films are cut up to be sold as individual cells anyway

    I've only recently start to look at pro cinema equipment myself so I'm not sure what I'm on about :rolleyes:. AFAIK the speakers and power amps will work no problem, it's just whether you like the sound they make. If you ask JBL Pro they'll tell you that the only difference between their speakers and the HiFi ones is the HiFi speakers cost twice as much and come with grills. The processors are probably no good for DVD as they read the sound off the film or use time codes from the film to sync with a CD carrying the soundtrack.

    You can see the prices of Pro speakers at Tega ie: A Martin Audio THX approved front channel starts at £900. Which isn't cheap but shows that you can do a real cinema for as little as £6000.

    So why do they usually sound so bad? :nono:
     
  18. owenw

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    I don't know a lot about it either, besides the few bits I've picked up on the web and on here.

    The 3 varieties of soundtrack (Dolby, dts and SDDS) are stored optically along the edge of the film reel.
    The outermost one usually suffers from poor handling and wear and tear which explains the odd silences on some channels at the start of films and probably the worn out Dolby Digital trailers etc.

    Even if you could get a hold of film reels they would probably be unwatchable.

    AFAIK the new digital cinemas use an optical disc similar to a DVD with the soundtrack encoded using a different system than that used in consumer systems. They still get nicked though!

    I suppose if you ran your home cinema system at full pelt 8 times a day 7 days a week it would soon have that "authentic" cinema sound :D

    Just thinking about it, £6000 isn't that much if you were to build a home cinema with a half decent projector (say £2000-£3000) and THX amp (~£1000) & speakers (~£2000) and it would sound 10 times better than the local cineplex. I'd have thought cinema
    speakers would be more expensive since it's a "pro" application.

    Maybe that does explain why most cinema sound is so poor if they buy the cheapest systems available, then kit out screens 1 and 2 with decent EX systems and charge even more! :mad:

    Owen
     
  19. avanzato

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    Actually I'm not sure I wrote that very well. :eek:

    I should point out that I wasn't saying Martin Audio speakers were bad.

    I just wonder where the theatre's get it wrong? As you can get a good set of speakers for reasonable money is it the electronics or the set-up of the system. What can't they figure out?
     
  20. zaphod

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    The proccesor alone from Dolby costs around £7000, the whole audio setup costs around 15-20K.

    In my experience most cinemas do not follow the Dolby specifications for the amplifier powers, especially for the subs. A lot of screens also use old processors(up to 20 years old) with Dolby Digital added on.

    For the best cinema experience you have to go to THX approved screens. The best screen I have been to was a 200 seat THX screen in Finland.

    DTS soundtracks are stored on cds and synced up to the projector

    Regards
    Zaphod
     
  21. buns

    buns
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    thats something...... i can never recall seeing a thx trailer in any cinema ive been to

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  22. russraff

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    I feel that I should put in a vote for good cinemas. There are two in the north east that are superb: One is in Bouldon and is a THX cerified cinema. The other is Silverlink in North Shields, where most screens have SDDS 6 channel sound, and the larger ones SDDS 8 channel sound. Saw Two towers and Attack of the clones at Silverlink in SDDS8 and was very impressed indeed.

    Russell
     
  23. driver8

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    and the Warners in Bolton (Reebok stadium) is good - there must be 5 cinemas that are closer to me, but those extra miles are worth it !

    Surprised no one has mentioned IMAX - big thing made about the screen, obviously, but the sound quality is superb too :smashin:
     
  24. Mr Cat

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    Hi Russaff - have you been to the odeon at newcastle yet..? if so, whats the sound like there..? - just that I'm going there tomorrow, and I haven't been to the cinema for a few years!

    will be interesting to see (or rather listen!) how it compares to my setup...:smoke:
     
  25. mammoth

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    There is a multiplex in Rubery, Birmingham (UGC) and when it opened in 1997 it was the first multiplex in Britain to have all screens THX CERTIFIED and it has 13 screens.
    And the screens I have been in have had awsome sound, for example we went to see Signs (Mel Gibson) and the scene where a telephone rings, the sound was coming out of the right front speaker as the screen showed the telephone on the right,
    and the scene where the house is all boarded up and the aliens are running around the outside of the house on the boards, the sound of their feet was going from speaker to speaker you felt as though you were in that house (scared the c*** outa me)

    This cinema gets the thumbs up from me:smashin: :smashin: :smashin:
     
  26. nathan_silly

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    Identical to my HC setup:D :smashin: I got the same effect. Pants film though.
     
  27. russraff

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    Unfortunately, the Odeon in newcastle is very poor compared with Silverlink. I saw the last James Bond film there and the sound was unremarkable - merely loud and too bright (Newcastle Odeon use Dolby Digital only, the few times I have been there). What's more, I could see the speaker cabinet, or something, glinting through the screen as I watched the film. You don't have an awful lot of room, either, for seating. I really wasn't impressed.

    Russell
     
  28. buns

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    what do you think is the worst area of cinema sound? Personally i think the biggest problem is that the sound level is just too much..... or alternatively you could interpret that as the sound being too forward and pushy..... certainly in my experience, i find the sound alot more tiring than my home system.

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