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Movie Sound, Part 1: Perceptual Differences of Six Listening Environments

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The soundtracks of movies are composed and mixed in various listening environments and the final mix is reproduced in cinemas. The variation of electroacoustical properties between the rooms could be significant, and mixes do not translate easily from one location to another. This study aims to elicit the audible differences between six different movie listening environments, which are auralized to an anechoic listening room with 45 loudspeakers. A listening test was performed to determine the attributes that describe the alterations in the sound field between the rooms. Experienced listeners formulated a vocabulary and created an attribute set containing 19 descriptive attributes. The most important attribute was the sense of space when dialogue was evaluated. Moreover timbre and especially brightness were important when music was evaluated. Furthermore, the change of width and clarity of the sound field was considered important.

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JAES Volume 69 Issue 1/2 pp. 54-67; January 2021
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Scott Dorsey
Scott Dorsey

Comment posted May 16, 2021 @ 15:35:57 UTC (Comment permalink)

This paper is fascinating in its discussion of mixes made in different environments and in the translation between different environments.

Increasingly we hear complaints about dialogue intelligibility in films shown in cinemas, usually rooms with a reverb time with an RT60 of 1.0 to 1.4.  The data in this paper would indicated that dense mixes made in smaller rooms with a much shorter reverb time would in fact have poorer dialogue intelligibility in a conventional cinema. 

Is it possible that some of the complaints about high playback levels in cinemas may also have something to do with this?  Turning levels down from the nominal Dolby standard level is impractical when the dialogue intelligibility is already poor.

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