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What's gone wrong with DVD sound?

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by BadAss, Jul 20, 2001.

  1. BadAss

    BadAss
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    I got a new LaserDisc player a few years before DVD came out (Pioneer925) and imediatly heard the difference from Prologic to DD. Bought lots of movies including Blade, Armaggedon and Face Off. All these films have an A1 soundtrack, they couldn't get much better than they are. So when I finally took the plunge to DVD I again chose Pioneer and got the 737.
    Thinking I would be getting the same sound quality DD for DD I was suprised to say this was not so. The bass was nowhere near as deep as Laserdisc and overall the sound didn't make me sit up and smile like I use to with LD. At first I thought the player was faulty but since then I've heard lots of people say the same thing, DVD is poo.
    The Dynamics on LD are far Superior to DVD. So where have things gone wrong and can we expect things to get better in the future. Is it software or will DVD players always be inferior?

    Comparisons where done on a:-
    Pioneer 925 LD
    Pioneer 737 DVD
    Yamaha 3090 (as pre amp)
    Rotel 1095 Power amp
    Kef 200 Center
    Kef Reference Model 2 fronts
    Rel StrataII

    Will spending £2000 on a new Processor make a big difference or should I look for a better DVD player first?
     
  2. Phil Hinton

    Phil Hinton
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    I noticed the exact same thing when i first invested in DVD.

    I think the reason there is a difference (although i could be wrong) is in the compression used. DD is a lossy technology which uses compression to fit the data in to the available space. On LD the video was analogue and only the soundtrack was digital. This meant that there was more room (on ntsc) for the dolby codec, meaning it was less compressed than DVD. The same is try with LD dts tracks, which sound amazing compared to DVD.

    The best way to describe the difference is on LD it sounds warmer, and the bass is richer.

    I could be wrong but this is what i believe made the difference, some one please correct me if i am wrong.

    Now that i dont have LD, I cant say I really notice anymore.
     
  3. squid

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    the same gos for DTS on LD they used high bit rates . it is never going to be as good on DVD . there just is'nt any where to put it :(
     
  4. Confucius

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    Since the bit rate for DD is the same on both Laserdisc and DVD (either 384 or 448 kb/s), in theory they should sound identical given the same master.

    As for DTS it is not that there is no room for the full 1.5Mb/s bitrate, it's simply that the studios seem to prefer to cram on extras and use the more recent half bit rate version. Again in theory the sound should be the same between the early DTS DVDs and there equivalent Laserdiscs given the same master.

    Whatever the differences in sound between the two (DD & DTS) formats, it's not due to lack of space and different compression rates (it's obviously futile to compare half bit rate DTS DVDs as they have no LD equivalent).

    There are DVDs, such as ID4, which sound better than their LD versions. Indeed those who have compared them report 'better' sound on the DD DVD than the DTS LD in the case of this film.

    One instance where LD is indistputably ahead is with the vast majority of DPL/Stereo/Mono soundtracks. The DD 2.0 can indeed sound very thin and weedy after an uncompressed PCM equivalent.

    [ 21-07-2001: Message edited by: Confucius ]
     
  5. General Skanky

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    I agree BadAss. LD audio is superior.
    Odd really.
    However, to go back a bit more. I have JP on PAL LD, Dolby Pro Logic. I thought it sounded 'worse' than the video equivalent, especially in the bass!
    So if all holds true to the current trend, and it seems to be heading that way, the next generation of media storage, ie, hardrive, the sound will worsen even more. :(
     
  6. squid

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    you are right of course Confucius. i just ment there is not the room becouse of the other stuff on the disk .

    the average punter dos not care about the bit rate but a few more extras get there attention . you could fit full dts on but there would not be room for anything else.

    so we get more extras , that and lets be honest we sit though once and never bother with again and inferior sound

    the thing that realy gets to me is when you get a film with no extras to speak and still a low bit rate pic and poor sound :(
     
  7. george1138

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    Firstly I dont have much LD experience (apart from Phantom menace- dont get me started) but I was told by an engineer from a very well known brand that LD cannot be as good as DVD as it is not full range audio. Could it be that LD was such a massive improvement from VHS that people perceive it as sounding better than it actually was. Dont shout me down, i'm not disagreeing with you LD guys. Just a theory. Be interested if any techy people can confirm the "not full range" bit! :)
     
  8. Rachael Bitchlist

    Rachael Bitchlist
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    There is no question PCM and DTS sound better on LD. The few full bit-rate DVDs sound awesome too. AC-3 is much closer and comes down to the mixing. It seems a great many DVDs are being mixed with light weight bass so that Mr. Sixpack won't blow the speaker on his tellie.

    I bought the DR. PHIBES DVD from MGM last winter. It looks terrific but the sound is pitiful. I have a Marantz AV9000 THX processor, all the bass below 80 hz goes to the sub, of course. Well, on PHIBES the sub does nothing, nada, zilch. There is no low bass and actually there seem to not be much high bass either. This DVD defines tin-ny sound!

    I also have the DR. PHIBES double feature on LD. The pic lacks some, even on my hi-end LD player, but the PCM sound is awesome. When PHIBES plays his pipe organ your sub will speak! You neibhors will definitely notice the difference too.

    Studios aren't bothering to do all DVDs justice. I wish more DVDs had PCM sound. I know there is room for it on most short to medium length films. The only movie DVD I own with PCM is AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON.

    Well, I prefer LD sound but DVD pic is lovely. If they want to make DVDs sound righteous, the mixers can. It can be competative with LD, but often isn't.

    Badass, there's always a better pre out there. You have the stuff to exploit one, me thinks. The 3090 is sonically behind the latest stuff in my mind. But, a new pre can't do a thing about weak software releases, garbage in, garbage out....

    You ought to take a gander at the new Rotel pre that will be coming out soon though. Why not? I too use Rotel power amps and luv them. I'm content with my Marantz pre and Smart Jr. EX box for now.

    DVD is destined to be the VHS of the future IMO. Where as LD was a truly hi-end format in it's time, especially the sound. Best wishes from Laserland!

    [ 21-07-2001: Message edited by: Rachael Bitchlist ]
     
  9. Rachael Bitchlist

    Rachael Bitchlist
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    George, I wonder if your engineer friend was speaking of one of the early incarnations of PAL LD players? I think he'd be right in that case. I have a Japanese model LD-S9 and an Elite CLD-99. I assure you they have full range sound! Best wishes!
     
  10. Ars longa, vita brevis

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    controvesy!!!

    ohhh, are you sure, i've heard it the other way round, someone deciding that audio on dvd was **** having compared his dvd of id4 on dvd with the ld. I've got the ac3 version of id4 on laser, but i've not yet watched it, never mind compared it with my friends dvd, so perhaps i am not in the best position to pass judgement...but going by other ld vs. dvd comparisons i will make the sweeping generalisation anyway, until i am proven wrong.

    To go with the flow, audio on ld is far superior, especially dts. Ratings in audio going:dts ld, ac3 ld, dts dvd then ac3 dvd. It would seem looking at dts laserdisc prices on ebay these days that people are starting to pick up on this, $127 for deep rising!!!!!!


    Rachael, in the distorted words of gary glitter, 'hello, hello its good that you're back.'

    whilst you're here, i must say sending the picture of your ld player on the laserlist was just nasty, oh how i want one, after my hld x9 or x0 i've not decided yet, nice to see one in action, well the LED's at least
     
  11. Rob Gillespie

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    I'm not sure what this guy means by 'full range', but he's wrong (mostly).

    Confucious pretty much nailed it, but I'll give my £0.02 while I'm here...

    The standard LD digital tracks are uncompressed PCM, which gives you very good quality Pro Logic (possibly what the engineer was referring to as the surrounds in ProLogic aren't full range). On a DTS LD those tracks are replaced by a 1400+ kbps track full-range 5.1 audio. On AC-3 LDs, you get a 384kbps (I think that number's correct) 5.1 full range track.

    Dolby Digital (AC-3) on DVD can go as high as 640kbps, but generally 448kbps is used to eliminate compatibility problems. Except for Warner, who shortchange everyone by sticking to 384kbps.

    DTS on DVD is either 768kbps (half rate) or 1536 (full rate).

    So for DD and DTS, DVD technically has the edge over LD, but as many people have found out, the amount of bits doesn't necessarily mean better sound.

    What it really comes down to is how the soundtrack is prepared for the DVD. I have no doubt that a large portion of DVDs are mixed less 'aggressively'. Call it dumbing down or whatever you like, but the fact remains that a large number of LDs sound beefier than their DVD counterparts. Some sound the same and some sound better.

    DTS LaserDiscs were really considered to be an audiophile product. Time and care was taken to ensure the optimum encoding. Nowadays, DVDs are put through the system so quickly that the same amount of attention just doesn't happen. A lof the issues arose when DTS licensed out their encoders instead of doing the work in-house. Universal screwed up the DTS DVD of Jurassic Park and have no reissued it with a remastered soundtrack taken from the original DTS LD source. Of course, they'll never admit they made as mistake and have made it exceptionally difficult for anyone to tell the difference between the two discs.

    But now I'm rambling...

    Remember that LD was always a niche product. DVD is mainstream and 95% of the Jo/Joe Publics out there don't give a toss about optimum quality as long it sounds good on their Dolby Digital TVs.
     
  12. Confucius

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    I had the LD, the bass is - to my ear - better on the DVD; along with a more expansive soundfield. I do think that in this instance the differences may well be due to different mixing. As I said, I have not have access to the DTS LD, I will try to dig out the comparison feature but I do know the DVD was preferred.

    I should add that it is the R1 DVD that I own, I am not familiar with the R2 version.

    [ 21-07-2001: Message edited by: Confucius ]
     
  13. Rachael Bitchlist

    Rachael Bitchlist
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    Dear formerly called such and such, who always looking for a new name,

    Nik, nik, nik, nik, and in a few weeks when the HLD-X9 arrives I shall taunt you again! Unless, you deliver to me a shrubbery that looks like Johnny Depp. NIK! Best wishes from Polezannia!
     
  14. Adam Barratt

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    But there's always room for a surprise, such as the Criterion version of The Rock, which sounds much better than the original LaserDisc release.

    Rob, by full range the engineer may have meant 20Hz-20kHz so would be technically correct, at least when it comes to Dolby Digital, which isn't 'full range' on LaserDisc. Technically, DVD should have the upper hand in terms of DTS and Dolby Digital reproduction. The fact it often doesn't suggests there's something else going on, something that can't be blamed on the format but how it is being used.

    Adam

    [ 22-07-2001: Message edited by: Adam Barratt ]
     
  15. Rob Gillespie

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    Funny the places you find a fellow HTF moderator!

    That DVD tecnically has improved performance there's no argument over (at least not from) me, but this engineer chap is making the assumption that because the figures say so, DVD always sounds better. Wrong, very wrong.

    Of course, it's most unlike an engineer to stick to the techical specs instead of actually listening :) :) :)
     
  16. Adam Barratt

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    I know what you mean, those darn engineers and their acoustic enhancing foams, high-end cables and sound enhancing pyramid enclosures. :D

    Still, even knowing the capabilities of DVD I would rather they actually sounded more like their technically 'inferior' predecessor.

    Adam
     

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