Category: Science: Physics of Sound

Too Loud; What’d They Say?

The Real Problem

Most often, people complain: “I can’t understand a thing anyone is saying!”

A Monologue On Dialogue

This may be the most technical of articles that you read here. Or, it may be OK. Fair warning. You might have to read it a few times. I must say, it took a few times to write it correctly.

We might have been taught that the pitch of the sound of a typical man or woman’s voice is around 150 and 300 cycles per second…which is true. That pitch – those frequencies – are just about an octave below the sound from the center note of the piano. Continue reading “Too Loud; What’d They Say?”

Too Loud~! Danger

The subject of sound causing damage to ears is filled with problems.

One point to know is that most standards for sound levels in the workplace are not based on safety. They are based on whether the person can listen to a sound for a number of hours for a number of years and still understand their spouse when they are told that dinner is ready.

Maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but it is mostly true. Continue reading “Too Loud~! Danger”

It’s Like, Too Loud~!

The first instinct for controlling “Too Loud” in the movie theater is “Turn it down.” From the viewpoint of the patron: We drive to the movie theater. We pay for our ticket. We sit for a while in soft lighting (wondering if we’re going to be bothered by the sound and smell of our neighbor’s popcorn all night).

Then the room goes full dark and a movie preview music begins. It’s all mystery-building-like with cool, dark logos and – Bright and Loud!!! Turn it down!!! Continue reading “It’s Like, Too Loud~!”

Too Loud~! More, But Not Now

There is more to this. But it is best to get some experience. Run around and think, “Someone lowered this for some reason, perhaps because one movie seemed too loud to a person who complained…and no one spoke up to say, ‘Hey~! I like it louder.'” But what movie is playing now?? is it a different movie playing at that lower level also? Was it just turned down because it had loud trailers?

Check it out. You’ll find a lot of variations on that theme. Continue reading “Too Loud~! More, But Not Now”

Too Loud~! Fixed Already

“Fixed” Already

The last complicating factor is that very often the audio level has already been turned down. There is enough anecdotal evidence – evidence from people talking about it, but not properly written down with each point studied by experts in the field –  to say that most movie theaters have turned down their audio processors from the optimum level – the level that the auditorium was designed and set up for. )Usually, that means that the level was set up to follow a set of Recommended Practices from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).) Continue reading “Too Loud~! Fixed Already”

Too Loud~! A Little Ear Theory

Introducing: Ear Theory

In none of these conditions is the appropriate move “Turn It Down”. It might make some things softer, but the exciting parts of the movie won’t be as good, and the entire movie will sound like it is being played though a tin can. The high pitch and low pitch sounds will be gone, and surprisingly, that will make it harder to understand the dialogue. Oops! Continue reading “Too Loud~! A Little Ear Theory”

Too Loud, Because Distortion

Sometimes turning the audio level down may be the correct response. But probably not most of the time.

“Too Loud” might really be “Too Distorted” – something wrong with a speaker or amplifier – or some other piece of equipment. If you turn down the level of everything, the distorted sound will still be there, but everything will be now be unbalanced.

Or it might be “Too Loud For Your Age” – the chronologically-enriched (the polite way to say ‘older people’) who may have certain frequencies that don’t sound as clear as they used to. A younger audience member might hear the same sounds and not think that there is anything but an exciting set of music and effects. This means that turning it down will make it easier for one person, but most people will not get the full dynamics that the director intended. …which is your job. Continue reading “Too Loud, Because Distortion”

Truth In Labelling for the Cinema

Listen To This…(Part 1)

Sound for movies is like pictures for movies. Something happens in front of a microphone or camera lens, a whole bunch of magic stuff happens, then sound and picture happens from the speakers and on the screen of a cinema theater.

In this post, the title Listen To This means that we’ll discuss the grand subject of sound.

It may seem that sound is not as important or complex as moving pictures, but this is not true. It will take several articles to point out the different ingredients so we can fulfill our objective: to know how to tell what is right and wrong about the sound we are given in the theater auditorium. But it will be worth it to know, since we all want to get the most out of our entertainment experience…and money. Continue reading “Listen To This…(Part 1)”