Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

Surrounded Sound

In a previous entry, I extolled the virtues of the improved picture on The Road Warrior and made a brief mention of the sound. I think that just to set the record straight, while the sound is certainly quite impressive in its impact (save, as I mentioned, the score) and has excellent separations in the forward soundstage, there are only a few moments when there is much in the way of surround activity, and they tend to be exceptions. This is still not an accurate representation of the original intended sound mix.

As with many dimensional audio tracks of the era, the surround material was encoded into the stereo channels at a specific phase shift to send that material to the rear speakers. The center channel is taken from common information from the left and right channels. This is how standard optical Dolby Stereo worked (6 track Dolby Stereo, which yielded the first true 5.1 soundfields, was magnetic), and also how Dolby Surround processors work as well. This creates problems in creating a 5.1 remix because many of those surround effects were never discrete.

The problem is that there really isn't a way to correct for this. They could try to send the signal through a converter, but that would cost much fidelity and bandwidth (this is why Criterion includes the unaltered mono track for films that used the ersatz stereo Perspecta sound). The only real option is going back to the original elements and starting a new mix from scratch, which in many cases, either through economics or availability of masters is not feasible. This is certainly true of The Road Warrior, as much of the Mad Max 2 material no longer exists. As I mentioned in the previous entry, the tapes for the music were lost or destroyed, (which is a shame as this makes it impossible to correct the fact that many cues that were dubbed in with their left and right channels reversed). Of course, the consumer can just downmix the 5.1 signal to stereo on their player and then play the sound through their Dolby Surround processor. But that would be cheating (and is annoying when you forget to correct it and start watching something else).
Tags: audio, cinema, high def
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