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Why is music and sound effects louder than dialogue in movies?


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Hi fellows.

 

When watching movies, especially streaming ones, do you find it annoying that the movies’ music and sound effects are much louder than dialogues? Is there any way to improve this?

 

Thanks in advance for any help.

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I have considered that, at least in my case, the overwhelming M&E is due to the fact that I listen to my TV through two speakers.  I know, old skool but if the dialog is, at least, mixed LCR, am I losing the dialog because I have no "C"?

 

I'd o LCR if I had somewhere not so completely ugly as the only place to put a center speaker.  I just live with it, but it's a "thing" for certain.

 

D.

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4 hours ago, tourtelot said:

I have considered that, at least in my case, the overwhelming M&E is due to the fact that I listen to my TV through two speakers.  I know, old skool but if the dialog is, at least, mixed LCR, am I losing the dialog because I have no "C"?

 

I'd o LCR if I had somewhere not so completely ugly as the only place to put a center speaker.  I just live with it, but it's a "thing" for certain.

 

D.

Like I said--the downmix should work well if the 5.1 mix was good.  If the mix doesn't work in stereo then it probably didn't work in 5.1 either.

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8 hours ago, tourtelot said:

am I losing the dialog because I have no "C"?


Short answer is no.  I have a 5.1 setup with a dead tweeter in the centre speaker.  I routinely make my dialogue more audible by switching to a stereo downmix.  A default downmix mixes C into both L & R if C isn't present.

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I'd venture a guess, based on my short experience in post on short turnarounds:

 

Everything is mixed in huge (at least that's my experience) rooms with very good acoustics, comfortable listening levels etc. Then when everything is edited and goea into final mix, there's not enough time to actually go through every line and every syllable to make them audible. Instead you put a chain of compressors and dynamic eqs on each channel of dialog, make that stem have a nice reading on the meter, maybe even out and level some runaway lines.

Then the fx and music comes in and you do the same kind of deal and you just look at the meters cause that's all you have time for, sort of. The music might even be pre-mixed  and have a good loudness level, but the meters and LUFS readings have to match so that the dynamic range isn't too big or whatnot.

 

This is an extreme case, but I have seen at least one mixer churn out episodes this way, year after year. And they all sound not good. 
 

But I have to say I don't really agree with mixes. I watch netflix and HBO a lot and I have no issues at all. The times I do have issues is more like artistic choice with low dialog or mumbling actors. 
 

 

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Now that you mention the font size of that OP message is awfully suspicious! 
 

hopfully not fanning bot flames but on this subject i know it has been mentioned before but for the wife n i - subtitles are becoming the norm, if only to confirm what we think we hear
 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't buy the thought of low speaking talent, per se. That's what faders are for. However the frequency response difference between someone talking very low and that same person projecting can be markedly different. 

This conversation happens in circles with live bands and also mixing music for whatever these days has replaced CDs and vinyl. I rarely go out for music anymore, but when I did, it wasn't unusual for the vocals to be buried. Part of that is style (which I don't care for) and part of it is that if/when the band turns up, at some point you can't push the vocal any higher without causing feedback in the PA. 

In the case of mixing for release, I think the problem is usually a vocalist who is shy about his/her vocal ability (and they may be correct.) The other problem us that everyone in the band KNOWS THE WORDS. As a mixer, I don't, so if a vocal phrase gets lost, I want to do something to make it audible. 

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