Why does movie music sound so blooming good?

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Moderator: Moderators

Post Reply

Why does movie music sound so blooming good?

Post by MarkOne »

I’ve been noticing recently that movie music is mixed differently to stuff on cd, streams etc. And I like it. Huge dynamics, loads of stuff for the subwoofer to get its teeth into.

In comparison music for general release seems to miss a couple of low end octaves, and nothing really slams in comparison..

I guess not everyone listens to everything on the same 5.1 system, and probably few people experience movie soundtracks or music at home the same way as they do in a THX theatre.

But it would be nice if more music was capable of exploiting my lounge audio system.
MarkOne
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1218 Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:00 am Location: Bristol, England, Earth, Perseus Gap, Milky Way
Debut Album 'Fantasy Bridge' available now!

Re: Why does movie music sound so blooming good?

Post by The Red Bladder »

Your comments are music to my ears!

1. Movie scores get real budgets. £50k would be the music budget for a micro-budget film and it can run to millions for a big project. Most CDs do not even get £50k for what is deemed a commercial recording - and then most are recorded in home studios nowadays.

2. 5.1 systems are just better and stereo is nowhere nearly as engaging as a pukka 5.1 or 7.1 mix.

3. Composers who are on top of their game are working on movie scores and not playing footsie in the foothills.
The Red Bladder
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2693 Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:00 am Location: . . .
 

Re: Why does movie music sound so blooming good?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

MarkOne wrote:But it would be nice if more music was capable of exploiting my lounge audio system.

There's no technical reason why it can't. It's just that most 'music' is still being mixed and mastered to be loud instead of dynamic and good.

That and the fact that the film world is still a bit obsessed with over-the-top low bass.

The adoption of Loudness normalisation by the streamers is a big step forward, bugs it's taking a long time for music producers to recognise and use the benefits, and the target loudness of -14LUFS (or thereabouts) is only a half-way interim stage. Films work with a figure the other side or -23LUFS.
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 31749 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: Why does movie music sound so blooming good?

Post by The Red Bladder »

Hugh Robjohns wrote:That and the fact that the film world is still a bit obsessed with over-the-top low bass.

You mean the music world is frightened of real bass sounds! :D
The Red Bladder
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2693 Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:00 am Location: . . .
 

Re: Why does movie music sound so blooming good?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

Probably a bit of both, truth be told! :lol:
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 31749 Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound...
(But generally posting my own personal views and not necessarily those of SOS, the company or the magazine!)
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: Why does movie music sound so blooming good?

Post by Airfix »

Agreed the movie stuff is a class apart - and not just the fabulous orchestral recording - which I love - wide open vistas - oh wow moments.
I was watching Dark Shadows - and at the start of the movie was the Moody Blues 'nights in white satin' - it was so beautifully remastered- those guys have ears - and i was listening in stereo
Airfix
Frequent Poster
Posts: 769 Joined: Mon May 07, 2012 12:00 am

Re: Why does movie music sound so blooming good?

Post by The Red Bladder »

Hugh has kinda hit the biggest difference with dynamic range. Music on its own tends to get the Bejesus compressed out of it, whereas movie scores can, in theory, have a range that goes from barely audible to 115dB SPL in the theatre - or if you are a nutter like me, in your studio or home. The most a theatre is supposed to use for the full-range speakers is 105dB SPL, but the LFE (subs) can go to 115. If barely audible is 30 or 40, then you are looking at an 80dB range. Well, in theory at least!

(Unfortunately TV broadcasts are heavily compressed and stripped of most of the bass - so to watch a 'big' film, get the Blu-Ray!)

CDs and the like in rock and pop can have just a 10dB range and some are even less than that.

The next big difference is surround - even in stereo. Movie scores are designed and mixed in surround or 3D. The stereo mix-down comes as an after-thought. That means that things in the surround channels are discretely and specifically placed there. The stereo mix-down places the surround noises outside of the stereo mix by using stereo enhancement - the old phase trick. If you do that to a stereo mix or even to bits within a stereo mix, there is a danger of making the mix not mono-compatible. It can be done and is done of course, but great care must be taken!

But the big, big difference is budget. The average major studio movies cost about $65m to make and another $35m to market and distribute. Small indi projects are in the single-million range. Micro-budget films are deemed to have about $1m to play with. In that micro-market, that gives the guy or gal making the music somewhere between $50k and $100k to come up with the right noises. For $50k you can still hire a decent studio and a small scratch chamber orchestra and find a retired music teacher or similar bod and a tech and put together a decent score.

And if your production costs are $65m, you have the money for a top composer and proper arrangers, full-blown symphony orchestras and top-class engineers and can hire 7.1 or 3D sound mix rooms and the very best sound designers - and all that best-on-the-planet talent really does shine through to the end product.
The Red Bladder
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2693 Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:00 am Location: . . .
 

Re: Why does movie music sound so blooming good?

Post by Martin Walker »

The Red Bladder wrote:Your comments are music to my ears!

Wow - never before have I heard you gushing in this manner! 8-)

Long may it continue!

Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 18021 Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am Location: Cornwall, UK
Post Reply