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 Post subject: Background/incidental music
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:35 pm 
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Am I alone in finding that this is getting more and more intrusive ? We have French TV, not UK.

It's often a problem with imported stuff from the US no matter which language is used. But there are also French-made and recorded programmes where the music is overpowering and it can be very hard to hear what the speaker is saying, particularly if it's someone who is softly spoken.


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 Post subject: Re: Background/incidental music
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:09 am 
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If TV sound (always at the bottom of the pecking order in a TV studio anyway) works anything like radio - and I reckon it does and then some - then it's not entirely the fault of the programme-makers. For many years there's been loudness wars on radio - the sense that if you're the loudest station on the dial you'll get listened to. Typically in the UK this was seen in endless technical battles behind the scenes between BBC engineers at Radio 1 and the people at Capital Radio to try and make their station sound the loudest.

This is done largely by ever-more-complex forms of volume compression, which reduces the dynamic range of the sound and allows you to make everything seem loud. The downside is that it kills entirely any subtlety in the mix. Everything's squashed together to a single volume, whether or not it should be quiet. It also means that background music becomes foreground music, and where a careful mix allowed for quiet dialogue over music it's entirely possible for the music to then swamp the dialogue.

Note that the programme makers send the finished programme to the broadcasters in its carefully-mixed and edited form. The broadcasters then push it through the broadcast chain, in some cases ramming through all kinds of electronic gadgetry to make it better, brighter, shinier and louder, if that's what they think will make people stick with their channel over a quiet, dull-looking, drab looking set of programmes on a neighbouring channel. Great - but their auto-everything boxes can also entirely screw up what the viewer gets - so that (as you've described) it becomes very difficult to hear what is being said.

Of course it can also be down to incompetence in the mixing suite too - a sound mixer person sitting in a surround-sound studio with big, loud monitors gets a very different sound-picture to you and me at home listening on tinny TV speakers that point the wrong way.

Ultimately sound is the poor relation to pictures in telly. It's one reason why I stuck to working in radio...

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 Post subject: Re: Background/incidental music
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 9:36 am 
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Many years ago in my past life, I worked for a TV company and one of the tasks of our department was to preview films/series/programmes that came in from outside. We timed the commercial breaks and made any necessary comment on the presentation of the programme. This could include sound issues, bad colour, flickering etc etc. This enabled our engineers to make any adjustment they deemed necessary if it was in their power to do so (which it wasn't always).

Andrew Rose wrote:
Ultimately sound is the poor relation to pictures in telly.

Yes, TVs generally lack sound quality, which can be improved by external speakers. But they can't compensate bad sound mixing :(


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 Post subject: Re: Background/incidental music
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:28 am 
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Yes the sound on a lot of TV programs is far to high, seems to be the in thing to blast you out of the room,
like a number of years ago it was the done thing to make films very dark so much so that you couldn't see the actors much of the time.
In my set up I have surround sound, correct me if I'm wrong but most DVDs have this embedded and is broadcast,
I find that as most dialogue comes from the centre speaker and I can alter the level to suite myself.

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 Post subject: Re: Background/incidental music
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 10:30 am 
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Doesn't broadcast sound normally use the 2-channel stereo mix? Or can you select your preference on your TV? (Never tried surround sound at home...)

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 Post subject: Re: Background/incidental music
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 12:05 pm 
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AndrewRose wrote:
Doesn't broadcast sound normally use the 2-channel stereo mix? Or can you select your preference on your TV? (Never tried surround sound at home...)



That surprises me Andrew, my first to watch when I installed the Pioneer system was Star wars blew my mind away just like when I first saw it in the cinema.
I never use the TV sound as every thing is connected through the pioneer.

For Hi-Fi (discs and vinyl) I still use my trusty old Quad, nothing to beat it to my mind.

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 Post subject: Re: Background/incidental music
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 1:54 pm 
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This kind of music definitely affects my ability to hear what people are saying, as my hearing isn't as good as it was. That's why I like foreign films with subtitles eg Inspector Montalbano (the background music on that is pleasant and quirky.)
OTOH, there are some series and films where the music is better than the dialogue eg Peaky Blinders, Superman, Clockwork Orange etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Background/incidental music
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 4:32 pm 
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I agree with the OP to the extent that some scenes (intimate, secretive and the like) are impossible to follow. Also, sometime actors whisper their lines for no obvious reason.

Guilty of a little drift here - sorry - but;-
We like to watch "Castle", load of old hokum but they play their part well and it makes us smile. On the French broadcasts it appears so dark that it is difficult to see any detail on indoor or ally scenes. I have to turn the brightness right up to observe any detail but that was not the case on the broadcasts in the UK. To get back on thread, is that just me?


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 Post subject: Re: Background/incidental music
PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 7:36 pm 
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Funnily enough, Loup-cervier, it was either Castle or Mentalist (or both !) that reminded me how bad some of the imported series are with regards over-loud background/incidental music. I do appreciate that incidental music plays an important part in creating atmosphere, but when it take over the main role, it's lost its point for me.


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