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Big screen blunders

Blu-ray

Friday night was movie night aboard the HMS Whimsy, and we started with a screening of the German Region B Blu-ray release of Léon, using my computer as an HTPC thanks to the disc’s odious region coding preventing it from playing on my Region A Playstation 3. By and large, I’d call it a success, although the decidedly problematic nature of the disc’s video and audio made it a rather frustrating venture.

The excessive contrast boosting has already been documented on this site, but I haven’t previously mentioned the thoroughly odious sound mix on the disc. Whereas the Superbit and Deluxe Edition DVDs both featured a rather nice DTS 5.1 track, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track on this disc is curiously mangled. The dynamic range is severely compressed (the gunfire when Stansfield is blowing apart Matilda’s family seems decidedly muted), the music is mixed far too loud, meaning you have to strain to hear some of the dialogue, and perhaps worst of all, the dialogue bleeds into the rear channels throughout the film, making voices seem disembodied. This, coupled with the extremely problematic image, lead me to suspect that whoever supervised the new HD master for this film didn’t have a clue what they were doing. I put my old Deluxe Edition DVD back in tonight and, even though the image quality was horrible, aurally it was a much nicer experience. I still think the disc is, overall, an improvement on the standard definition releases, but I find it extremely hard to recommend it unequivocally. I hope Sony, who own the North American rights, exercise more quality control if and when they get round to doing their version.

To ensure that the problem wasn’t being caused by my PC or the software being used, we checked out some discs we were more familiar with, and, surprise surprise, no problems to report. Casino Royale, one of the best-looking and -sounding discs out there (uncompressed PCM 5.1 = t3h g00dne$$), was particularly impressive, and a purely subjective viewing and listening revealed no discernible differences between viewing it on the PS3 and on my PC using PowerDVD 8. The only problem I could determine was an intermittent frame skipping issue when outputting the signal in 24p - my guess is that PowerDVD isn’t able to resolve this mode properly, given that it disappeared when I switched to 60 Hz. If so, using the PC for HD playback isn’t going to be perfect, but it will be pretty close to that, and will certainly be more than adequate until we can get our hands on some sort of standalone multi-region player. The only inconvenience is having to crawl behind my computer to switch the cables connected to my sound card every time we want to watch a movie on the big screen in this way. Does anyone know of some sort of splitter that could be used to plug in two sets of speakers at once? (The sound card has three 3.5mm jacks, one for the L and R channels, one for the L and R rears and one for the center channel and subwoofer.)

 
Posted: Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 9:16 PM | Comments: 7
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | DVD | Technology

 
Comments

1.

could it be that PowerDVD is simply doing a bad job of a) decoding the DTS-HD and/or b) downsampling the 7.1 to your 5.1 setup?

Posted by: Dom, November 17, 2008 12:39 AM

2.

It’s possible, I suppose. I’ll have to check some more 7.1 and/or DTS-HD tracks and get back to you on that one.

Posted by: Michael Mackenzie, November 17, 2008 10:12 AM

3.

An update on my previous comment: I just checked two other discs with DTS-HD MA 7.1 tracks, The Golden Compass and The Orphanage, and there was no dialogue “bleed” into the rears with them. I’ll continue experimenting with other discs, but I’m pretty sure this is a problem unique to Léon.

Posted by: Michael Mackenzie, November 17, 2008 11:28 AM

4.

;( disappointing news

Posted by: Dom, November 17, 2008 3:27 PM

5.

I'd also guess that this is a problem of the disc itself, as I read about audio problems with this title on other forums. Dialogue "bleed" was not mentioned, but lack of dynamic range seems to be an issue that many people reported. Maybe the 7.1 track is just an upmix from the previous 5.1 track that went horribly wrong.

Maybe Sony will correct this problem, when they release a disc of the film.

Posted by: BobaFett, November 18, 2008 12:50 PM

6.

Leon does have doesn't have Master Audio, it has DTS-HD High Resolution @ 2814Kbps.

Posted by: user, November 21, 2008 6:46 PM

7.

My mistake - apologies for the misinformation.

Posted by: Michael Mackenzie, November 21, 2008 6:55 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

https://www.landofwhimsy.com

 

 
 
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