Dialnorm: How to determine it? - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 9 Old 12-21-09, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Dialnorm: How to determine it?

I'm trying to figure out how to determine the dialnorm value used on
BR's and DVD soundtracks (DD and DTS).

It seems like DTS is usually 4db louder than DD. Both seem to have some variation from movie to movie. I'd like to be able to figure this out for each movie in order to set them at the same appropriate loudness level for comparison. For example the new Terminator 4 Salvation DTS is really, really loud compared to something like Pulse, or Transformers 1 with a dolby digital soundtrack which is much softer (you end up switching turning the volume up or vice a versa). I know that some receivers or players can call this up in a sub menu. I have an Onkyo PR-SC886P processor and also an Onkyo TX806 receiver. Does anyone know how to display this information using these 2 units or Onkyo products in general? I can get it to display when I first switch my PS3 on, but it always seems to display +4 but it does not display at any other time or when I switch sources or discs. Is there a way to recall it while a movie is playing? Thanks.
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post #2 of 9 Old 12-21-09, 02:52 PM
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Re: Dialnorm: How to determine it?

That is an excellent question. I have been using Onkyo's for the past few years and I cannot remember once seeing this information. With my previous Denon's, this information was always readily available.
To the best of my knowledge, I do not think the Onkyo's readily provide this information.

And you are absolutely correct about certain BD's and DVDs sounding much louder at what is your normal listening level for HT. I will definitely try to investigate this further as it is an excellent question.

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post #3 of 9 Old 12-21-09, 09:35 PM
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Re: Dialnorm: How to determine it?

The 805 and 506 display the DialNorm value as soon as the unit identifies the incoming signal format. When you watch a movie there's usually a transition from the menu audio (usually stereo of some sort) to the feature audio. After the transition and locking the feature audio, it will display DialNorm on the LED panel for a second or two...this will likely be during some studio's logo as opposed to title credits. You can see the same thing as you surf TV channels and the receiver relocks the signal after going dead between channels. I haven't experimented with this beyond noticing the initial display...for instance, it may not display if the new signal has the same value as the old signal. There may be a way to retrieve the value on the secret menus present in some models, but I haven't checked.

If your PS3 is sending MPCM (in player decoding), there will be no DialNorm value to display. Dolby formats are usually the ones associated with DialNorm, although I have a fuzzy memory that says DTS-HD has it in the spec. I'm pretty sure lossy DTS does not, however.

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post #4 of 9 Old 12-22-09, 02:26 AM
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Re: Dialnorm: How to determine it?

I remember seeing the +4 come up on my Onkyo 905 if gain was noted higher on certain tracks mainly DD though...
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post #5 of 9 Old 12-22-09, 06:59 AM
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Re: Dialnorm: How to determine it?

Same thing on my older Marantz SR-18. Dianorm +4 or so would appear on the main display for about three seconds after "relock" or starting a movie. Never saw it anywhere else (or at any time).
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post #6 of 9 Old 12-22-09, 08:34 AM
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Re: Dialnorm: How to determine it?

I get it on my Pioneer Elite during the menu to film audio transition as mentioned. But out of all the times I have seen it it has always been +4. Never any other number.
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post #7 of 9 Old 12-22-09, 02:57 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Dialnorm: How to determine it?

Same here. It's always +4. However like I noted that new Terminator movie in DTS is really hot. The dialog itself is louder at -15 on my reciever than some other DD discs like transformers at -5. At least that's what it seems like to me. Obviously whoever mixed the movie could have made the dialog much hotter than in other movies, but it seems to be way beyond the +4 usually ascribed between DTS and DD. I wonder if the total dynamic range has been reduced in the newest terminator to increase the average level.

What I hope that we are not seeing is a new loudness war between film studios like what we've had with cd's and other digital media.

Seriously has anyone watched that movie on BR DTS yet? Pay attention to how loud it is overall.
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post #8 of 9 Old 12-22-09, 03:32 PM
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Re: Dialnorm: How to determine it?

tcarcio wrote: View Post
But out of all the times I have seen it it has always been +4. Never any other number.
Really? Any time I notice it, the numbers are all over the map, ranging from +4 to -27. That said, I will say that -4 seems to appear more often than any other value.

As for the OP, I think the information, how long it's displayed and whether you can have access to it when you want, would be directly related to your processor's firmware. My Integra (just like the other Onkyos mentioned) only displays it for a few seconds when it locks onto the audio signal.

Last edited by Zing; 12-22-09 at 03:37 PM.
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post #9 of 9 Old 12-22-09, 03:46 PM
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Re: Dialnorm: How to determine it?

I haven't been paying all that much attention to my VSX-919 when watching movies, but on satellite I've seen this number go nuts too. On one channel it could be -9, while the next could be +7. Doesn't seem to have much of a connection to volume levels, as some channels' volumes are totally out of line with what the dial norm number would suggest. I wish I could recall the number on mine manually as well... some channels don't pop up a dial norm adjustment on the display at all.

Sat receiver is a Shaw Direct (aka Starchoice) DSR-317 connected optically to the Pioneer.
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