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#2507523 - 02/05/16 10:10 AM OT sound levels in the cinema
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5426
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I rarely do this in the afternoon, but I went to the movies.

In my immediate area there are three cinemas. I typically avoid one of the three because the sound levels are almost always too loud or just a bit too loud, never too soft or spot on.

Over here there's a break halfway though the film so you can go to the bathroom or buy something to eat or drink. As always I spoke with the manager during the pause, in this case a very young woman, and passed on my complaint\suggestion.

I was told the sound levels are in essence built into the film itself. (Bullsh*t) I pointed out that I have a stereo at home with a volume control. (Actually I must have ten devices all with a volume control. I adjust every source to my liking.)

I really get tired of being subjected to sound levels that are either too loud or just a tad too loud.

The cinema we usually go to has the sound levels perfect.

Am I alone here? Oh, by the way, the film was The Big Short and is worth your time.
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#2507533 - 02/05/16 10:43 AM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
TonyB Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/08/07
Posts: 934
Loc: Twin Cities
I fully agree with you on this. I don't care to go to movies or much in the way of live music because it all seems to need to be way too loud. I often wonder how people heard anything before there was this massive over-amplification (rhetorically, of course since obviously things were fine before we started assaulting our hearing at every turn). In the guitar forums, there are many people who jump into threads about hearing loss, saying that their hearing was damaged by playing in loud bands. I consider myself fortunate that I have always seemed to have a natural aversion to that sort of thing. As a result, my hearing is on par for my age.

It seemed odd to me when, in pop music, people started shoving mics into the drums and cranking that way up so that the instruments that were supposed to back a singer, always now sound as if they are competing instead. To me, something is really wrong with all this extreme loudness, but to most people I encounter, it seems normal and necessary.

Tony
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My blog: http://ajourneyintomusic.blogspot.com

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#2507536 - 02/05/16 10:50 AM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
prout Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 1658
Loc: Southwestern Ontario
My wife and I go to the movies about twice a year. We always wear earplugs which provide about 20db attenuation. We can still hear and feel everything. Makes going to the movies enjoyable...again.

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#2507543 - 02/05/16 11:16 AM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
ando Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 4524
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Last time I went to the movies, after 1 minute I realised I couldn't make it through 2 hours of this sort of auditory abuse. I went to talk to the manager and they turned it down. I gave them a warning about sound levels and hearing damage and said there are laws about volume in cinemas and they would do well to observe them or I'll be back with a sound pressure meter next time. Needless to say, they turned it down. I've had enough of this bloody minded obsession with loudness being some sort of "experience" that can't be matched any other way. Same with loud music.

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#2507547 - 02/05/16 11:21 AM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
Groove On Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/20/15
Posts: 346
Originally Posted By Dave Horne
I was told the sound levels are in essence built into the film itself. (Bullsh*t) I pointed out that I have a stereo at home with a volume control.


I know it sounds reasonable to turn down the volume, but she's correct., The problem is modern audio mixing, they pump up the soundtrack and fx levels so much it overwhelms the dialogue. Theatres can turn down the volume but then they'll get a lot of complaints that people can't hear the dialogue (over the soundtrack and fx). And it's baked into the movie mix, they don't have control over it in the theatre.

It's a well-known and very ignored problem in the movie industry. Similar types of problems also infect TV Advertisements, CDs and other types of digital audio.


Personally, I've bought several usd$20 ear-plugs for when I go out to any event. Sound levels are just too loud in general.


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#2507551 - 02/05/16 11:32 AM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
Charles Cohen Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 2463
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
These are good earplugs:

http://www.amazon.com/HEAROS-High-Fidelity-Plugs-Comfortable/dp/B0037KM8QY

They are rated at -12 dB -- you can hear conversation with them in. Most music stores carry them.

Lacking those, I've stuffed tissue paper in my ears at movies -- it works OK.

A free Android "sound level" app on my smartphone show 105 dB (A-weighted) almost continuously, during the last James Bond movie.



Edited by Charles Cohen (02/05/16 11:32 AM)
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. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / ZXA1 speaker

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#2507554 - 02/05/16 11:40 AM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Charles Cohen]
ando Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 4524
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By Charles Cohen

A free Android "sound level" app on my smartphone show 105 dB (A-weighted) almost continuously, during the last James Bond movie.



Not sure I trust a phone app for measuring sound levels. Every phone I've had has had very different mic sensitivity. How can they calibrate the app for all the different phones out there?

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#2507567 - 02/05/16 12:16 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
wouter79 Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 4266
Yes I also find the volume levels there way too high. Last time the volume was about right with my 15dB pro ear plugs in ...

I think the public expects not their hearts but their bones to be shaken :-/

105 dB?According to this the maximum exposure time to that is about 5 minutes.

She may be right that the volume is prescribed. It would surprise me if that would not be normalized.
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#2507571 - 02/05/16 12:37 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
wouter79 Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 4266
I just hit on this from 2000 which confirms that the volumes are standardized

http://www.cinematechnologymagazine.com/pdf/movie%20loudness_Cinema%20June%2000.pdf

Since the 1970's, movie theater audio was normalized to 85dBc which is safe to sit in for 8 hours (according to that link I gave).

But over the years they added "headroom" to that

Apparently in dolby digital they added 105 - 85 = 20dB headroom!!

This is HUGE. 3dB doubles the sound level, this means a 100-fold increase in level.
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#2507583 - 02/05/16 01:14 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
leel Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/07/13
Posts: 112
Loc: Lacey WA
Thank goodness. It's NOT just me! Going to the movies is painful.

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#2507586 - 02/05/16 01:23 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
Strat Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 665
Loc: Toronto, Canada
I worked in a movie theater when I was younger and the technology hasn't changed much if at all. There definitely was an easy way to crank the sound up or to bring it down. I had numerous complaints that the sound was way too loud.

It's basically designed to fool you into thinking that the special effects-heavy movie you're watching is actually good when it's in fact trash. By inducing sensory overload, the public mostly just gobbles it all up.

Personally, I can't stand movie theaters anymore. I have a big-screen HDTV and am happy to watch everything in the comfort of my own home. Here's a partial list of the reasons why I avoid going out to the movies, now.

- Incredibly loud volume.
- Dirty seats.
- Sticky floors.
- People talking.
- People using their cell phones.
- People kicking my seat.
- People fiddling with their noisy candy packages.
- Expensive.
- I hate crowds.

I honestly don't see the allure of it anymore, especially since the break between when a movie is released in theaters and when it comes out on Blu-Ray is a mere few months, now. I don't NEED to see the movie as soon as it comes out.
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Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#2507594 - 02/05/16 01:43 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Strat]
TonyB Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/08/07
Posts: 934
Loc: Twin Cities
Originally Posted By Strat
I worked in a movie theater when I was younger and the technology hasn't changed much if at all. There definitely was an easy way to crank the sound up or to bring it down. I had numerous complaints that the sound was way too loud.

It's basically designed to fool you into thinking that the special effects-heavy movie you're watching is actually good when it's in fact trash. By inducing sensory overload, the public mostly just gobbles it all up.

Personally, I can't stand movie theaters anymore. I have a big-screen HDTV and am happy to watch everything in the comfort of my own home. Here's a partial list of the reasons why I avoid going out to the movies, now.

- Incredibly loud volume.
- Dirty seats.
- Sticky floors.
- People talking.
- People using their cell phones.
- People kicking my seat.
- People fiddling with their noisy candy packages.
- Expensive.
- I hate crowds.

I honestly don't see the allure of it anymore, especially since the break between when a movie is released in theaters and when it comes out on Blu-Ray is a mere few months, now. I don't NEED to see the movie as soon as it comes out.


Excellent points all around in this post.

Tony
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#2507597 - 02/05/16 01:50 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
login Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/14
Posts: 109
On some countries there are regulations on volume level on cinemas and entertainment venues.

Take with you an SPL meter (there are apps for smartphones) and report them to the consumer protection agency or what ever oversees cinemas.

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#2507632 - 02/05/16 03:18 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
Strat Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 665
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Forgot to mention that advertising is out of control as well.

Last time I went to the movie theater, with no exaggeration whatsoever, there was *30 min* of previews and commercials before the movie started!

I just wanted to see the movie I already paid for! Not interested in anything else. So my choices would either be to arrive 20-odd minutes later and risk missing the opening of the movie or suffer through the entire run of advertising.

Either way, no thanks.

Movie tickets and especially the food is so out-of-this-world expensive already! I can't understand why any advertising is necessary. UGH!
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Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#2507684 - 02/05/16 06:18 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
EssBrace Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2629
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
You should all read this thread back to yourselves! Talk about a moaning bunch of whingers! Next thing you'll be saying you can't understand the words in modern pop songs! Or that you could take a girl out to the flicks and have a fish and chip supper and still have change out of sixpence back in the old days. You've all turned into your grandfathers!

Ooh, turn it down, my ears hurt! Moan, moan, moan!
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Roland RD-1000 | Yamaha CP1 | Physis H1

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#2507685 - 02/05/16 06:20 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: EssBrace]
Strat Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 665
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By EssBrace
You should all read this thread back to yourselves! Talk about a moaning bunch of whingers! Next thing you'll be saying you can't understand the words in modern pop songs! Or that you could take a girl out to the flicks and have a fish and chip supper and still have change out of sixpence back in the old days. You've all turned into your grandfathers!

Ooh, turn it down, my ears hurt! Moan, moan, moan!

That's the human race for you. When somebody doesn't share the same annoyances, they're mocked.

Every single person who posts pointless idiocies like this always complains about something else and the attitude is a lot more defensive when the shoe is on the other foot.

Your post is ironic *&* moronic. Congratulations on nailing both equally ridiculously pathetic milestones.


Edited by Strat (02/05/16 06:23 PM)
_________________________
Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#2507687 - 02/05/16 06:21 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Strat]
EssBrace Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2629
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
Originally Posted By Strat
Originally Posted By EssBrace
You should all read this thread back to yourselves! Talk about a moaning bunch of whingers! Next thing you'll be saying you can't understand the words in modern pop songs! Or that you could take a girl out to the flicks and have a fish and chip supper and still have change out of sixpence back in the old days. You've all turned into your grandfathers!

Ooh, turn it down, my ears hurt! Moan, moan, moan!

That's the human race for you. When somebody doesn't share the same annoyances, they're mocked.

With 100% accuracy, every single person who posts pointless idiocies like this always complains about something else and when *they* are mocked, they dislike it.

Your post is ironic *&* moronic. Congratulations on nailing both equally ridiculously pathetic milestones.


Ha! Sense of humour bypass!
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Roland RD-1000 | Yamaha CP1 | Physis H1

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#2507688 - 02/05/16 06:24 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: EssBrace]
Strat Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 665
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By EssBrace
Ha! Sense of humour bypass!

Leave the comedy to people who know what is funny.
_________________________
Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#2507690 - 02/05/16 06:27 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Strat]
EssBrace Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/01/09
Posts: 2629
Loc: Suffolk, United Kingdom
Originally Posted By Strat
Originally Posted By EssBrace
Ha! Sense of humour bypass!

Leave the comedy to people who know what is funny.


Yes sorry, I can see you're an expert on these things.
_________________________
Roland RD-1000 | Yamaha CP1 | Physis H1

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#2507695 - 02/05/16 06:38 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
kapelli Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/12
Posts: 592
Loc: Poland
Agree. Here in Poland in some cinemas movies are far too loud. to the point it's painful and you're happy to leave the place.

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#2507698 - 02/05/16 06:48 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: EssBrace]
Strat Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 665
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By EssBrace
Yes sorry, I can see you're an expert on these things.

There's not much you can see. For instance, how nobody cares about your input or opinion.

I'd tell you to quit while you're ahead, but that ship has sailed.
_________________________
Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#2507700 - 02/05/16 06:57 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5426
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
EssBrace, play nice or the powers that be will lock this thread.

As I initially mentioned, there is one cinema that has perfect sound levels in my area. This cinema caters to the more sophisticated crowd, you know, those with more money and more education.

Star Wars wouldn't be on the agenda there but 45 Years would.

It was my bad luck that The Big Short wasn't shown there.

Play nice.
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#2507705 - 02/05/16 07:11 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
Charles Cohen Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 2463
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
There is something to this "whingeing old fogies" comment.

There's a tiny bone in the ear, that moves to change the sensitivity of the sound-sensing nerves in the inner ear. It (or its ligaments or muscles, I forget which) are a lot more flexible in young people, than in old people.

. . . So us grey-beards can't "turn down the gain!" as well as the young folks.
_________________________
. Charles
---------------------------
PX-350 / microKorg XL+ / Pianoteq / Lounge Lizard / ZXA1 speaker

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#2507708 - 02/05/16 07:26 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
Strat Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 665
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Moreover, it's been a topic of discussion for years that the amount of volume in those rooms is factually too loud and can cause permanent damage to one's hearing.

Why anybody would basically suggest to suck it up and allow that to happen to be cool is beyond any intelligent person's understanding.
_________________________
Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#2507709 - 02/05/16 07:33 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Charles Cohen]
Dave Horne Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5426
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By Charles Cohen
There is something to this "whingeing old fogies" comment.

There's a tiny bone in the ear, that moves to change the sensitivity of the sound-sensing nerves in the inner ear. It (or its ligaments or muscles, I forget which) are a lot more flexible in young people, than in old people.

. . . So us grey-beards can't "turn down the gain!" as well as the young folks.



I have always been sensitive to loud noise. When I was in my 20s and playing the Holiday Inn circuit, I would be annoyed at the mixer used to blend drinks. I had the idea to create a sound proofed box to house that mixer so that noise wouldn't permeate the entire lounge.

I find it bullshit that kids today are offered ear plugs to buy at concerts. Can you imagine that? Ear plugs are offered for sale for those in attendance.

Louder isn't better, more isn't always better.

Some restaurants over here have sound absorbent material lining the underside of their tables. Great idea!

The word is slowly getting out ... and we old farts appreciate it. I show my gratitude with my wallet, that's the currency with measurable worth.


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#2507713 - 02/05/16 07:45 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
Strat Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 665
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By Dave Horne
I have always been sensitive to loud noise. When I was in my 20s and playing the Holiday Inn circuit, I would be annoyed at the mixer used to blend drinks. I had the idea to create a sound proofed box to house that mixer so that noise wouldn't permeate the entire lounge.

I find it bullshit that kids today are offered ear plugs to buy at concerts. Can you imagine that? Ear plugs are offered for sale for those in attendance.

Louder isn't better, more isn't always better.

Some restaurants over here have sound absorbent material lining the underside of their tables. Great idea!

The word is slowly getting out ... and we old farts appreciate it. I show my gratitude with my wallet, that's the currency with measurable worth.

I have hyperacusis. In other words, I hear non-musical sounds at 2x or even 3x the volume a regular person hears it.

Fun times. Strangely enough, music is a different story. However, I can't stomach how loud live rock music is in most contexts.

I worked in selling audiophile gear for a while. There is a *world* of a difference between plain loud or being loud with equipment that can translate the sounds into musically pleasing ways. Equipment in movie theaters isn't calibrated to be pleasing to hear. Just to be able to perform to high power demands. The end result is... well, not pleasant.
_________________________
Started playing in mid-June 2007. Self-taught... for now. :p

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#2507715 - 02/05/16 07:55 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Charles Cohen]
TonyB Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/08/07
Posts: 934
Loc: Twin Cities
Originally Posted By Charles Cohen
There is something to this "whingeing old fogies" comment.

There's a tiny bone in the ear, that moves to change the sensitivity of the sound-sensing nerves in the inner ear. It (or its ligaments or muscles, I forget which) are a lot more flexible in young people, than in old people.

. . . So us grey-beards can't "turn down the gain!" as well as the young folks.



That is a real shame because it is later in life that people begin to realize how much their hearing was damaged by too much loudness in their youth. Especially for those who wish to play an instrument in their later years, this can become a real problem and by then, it is too late to go back and change things.

Tony
_________________________
My blog: http://ajourneyintomusic.blogspot.com

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#2507734 - 02/05/16 08:49 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
Tack Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/10/10
Posts: 75
Loc: Canada
All seconded here. I was close to walking out of Interstellar. I went with my dad, who's well into his 70's, a bit hard of hearing with a motivation to preserve what hearing he has left, and even he had his fingers stuck in his ears almost the whole time.

I asked him if he wanted to leave, but we were both otherwise really enjoying the movie so we stuck it out.

Interstellar may be an easy target with respect to volume, because the soundtrack and FX were intentionally mixed loud to the point of distortion and at the expense of dialogue. It was an aesthetic choice, which I respect (even if I disagree with), but honestly, if the new norm is that movie going is a painful experience, count me out.

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#2507747 - 02/05/16 10:18 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: Dave Horne]
FrankCox Online   content
Full Member

Registered: 06/03/15
Posts: 164
Loc: Melville Saskatchewan
I just happen to own and operate a movie theatre.

One of the jobs of a cinema technician is to balance the sound in the auditorium. These days that job is done with microphones attached to a laptop that is, in turn, connected to the cinema sound processor. My sound processor is a USL JSD-100 and it looks like this:


You'll notice that there is a fader knob on the far right side.

However, this kind cinema processor is NOT intended to be fiddled around with by amateurs, and by that I mean most of the people who work in the chain theatres. Messing up the volume settings can screw up everything from the audio effects to the intelligibility of the dialogue. Even the movies themselves can create problems of their own occasionally. The initial release of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones was responsible for blowing out the center speaker amplifier and hf diaphragm in a number of theatres; JBL 4632 speakers were apparently the most susceptible to this damage. After the first couple of days they re-released the soundtrack for that movie, replace seven seconds of audio in the fourth reel to solve that problem.

Many large chain theatres have nobody on site that knows anything about the projection and sound end of the operation. They are entirely remote controlled from central network operations centers that can be located on the other end of the country, and months can go by where nobody ever enters the projection room. My own equipment even has a scheduling function where I can tell the system to "show this movie at 7pm every night from this date to that date" and it will do that. I'm too paranoid to do it that way, though; I like to be standing in my projection room watching the pretty lights flash when the show starts so I know what happened and why if anything doesn't work perfectly. The sound levels are preset and controlled by macros sent from the cinema server to the sound processor.

As you can see, asking J. Random Cinema Employee to skip up the stairs to the projection room and turn the volume down is not a reasonable request. It ain't the television in your living room, folks.
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#2507751 - 02/05/16 10:57 PM Re: OT sound levels in the cinema [Re: FrankCox]
Strat Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/07
Posts: 665
Loc: Toronto, Canada
Originally Posted By FrankCox
I just happen to own and operate a movie theatre. [SNIP] As you can see, asking J. Random Cinema Employee to skip up the stairs to the projection room and turn the volume down is not a reasonable request. It ain't the television in your living room, folks.

It most certainly is. If somebody states it's too loud even for their hard-of-hearing 70-year old father, it definitely is a reasonable request to ask WHOEVER is responsible to turn it down!

The fact that you are paranoid about having anybody manipulate the equipment is (to put it bluntly) not our problem. The cost of going to see a movie with snacks costs 50$ for 2 people, here! That is insane. The least you could do is have somebody on staff whom you would train to be on hand to operate this machine and adjust the level to a reasonable level.

And again, to be blunt, I don't care what decibel Paramount or Universal insist their movies to be blasted at. Allowing these companies to inflict permanent damage upon your clientele's hearing is irresponsible.

You can do whatever you want, but some people have stopped going to the movies exclusively because the volume is overbearing and intolerable. Movie theaters have had a history of telling the general public that they're doing badly, blablabla. It's hard to feel an ounce of empathy when you're actively driving away potential customers who'll never set foot in your theater because of how your audio setup is calibrated.

I appreciate the contribution you've made to this thread. I really do. However, IMHO, you are doing yourself and others a disservice by cranking the volume to irresponsible levels. There's no doubt in my mind you'll probably stick to your guns, but I thought I'd try to inject some good sense into the discussion anyway.
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