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  #1  
Old 06-20-2006, 06:27 PM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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Program volume on Sci-Fi and USA

Is it just my cable co, or have Sci-Fi and USA done something weird with the volume in their programming the last month or so?

In order to hear the program I have to turn the volume way up whether it's live TV (real live tv), or any recordings. Then the volume in the commercials is WAAAAY too loud. I mean WAAAAAY too loud!!
It seems as though the commercial volume is normal like it always is, but the program volume is very low. The commercial volume jives with the other networks.

As I said, I've noticed it on straight TV, and recordings whether they be Sage, or Replay, VCR, or DVD. It happened sometime this spring, within the last couple months.

It seems to be only on Sci-Fi and USA, but could be other of their networks too. I just noticed it recently on Sci-Fi as I watched some of last seasons episodes (SG-1, Stargate Atlantis) as they re-aired to refresh my memory for the upcoming new season next month.
And in the last week or so I noticed it on USA too as they started airing fresh episodes of The 4400, and Dead Zone.

Is anyone else seeing this on other systems (Dish, other Cable, OTA, etc). I've got Comcast Analog cable up here in Connecticut.
I'll have to try it at the firehouse where we have Comcast Digital and a couple old TV's running on straight Analog cable to see if it may just be Analog.
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  #2  
Old 06-21-2006, 06:59 AM
jquinlan jquinlan is offline
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I have seen this before on G4 before they totally erase the creativity of TechTV from their programming, so I don’t watch them anymore, but I have not seen it on Sci-Fi or USA over the past few weeks on Insight Cable in Columbus OH.
I think the Cables Companies Network Operation Centers (NOC) have control over this, so you may wish to contract your cable company. I had a friend who worked for Time Warner and he said they do try to equalize the volume over all channels because each program/channel is different off the satellites due to compression and encryption.
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  #3  
Old 06-21-2006, 10:38 AM
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cslatt cslatt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waynedunham
Is it just my cable co, or have Sci-Fi and USA done something weird with the volume in their programming the last month or so?
I haven't been watching Sci-fi lately, but I've definitely seen this with USA for the past week or two. They've got some commercials that are so loud they distort on my TV. I'm on Comcast in Arlington, VA
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  #4  
Old 06-22-2006, 06:14 AM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cslatt
I haven't been watching Sci-fi lately, but I've definitely seen this with USA for the past week or two. They've got some commercials that are so loud they distort on my TV. I'm on Comcast in Arlington, VA
On my system at least, it's the volume in the programs that's low. The commercial volume is on par with the majority of the other stations. But you have to turn up the volume so high to hear the programs that when the commercial does come on it'll blow your eardrums out.
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  #5  
Old 06-22-2006, 06:33 AM
BobPhoenix BobPhoenix is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waynedunham
On my system at least, it's the volume in the programs that's low. The commercial volume is on par with the majority of the other stations. But you have to turn up the volume so high to hear the programs that when the commercial does come on it'll blow your eardrums out.
I see the same thing on SciFi but I would say it's been bad for me for a year or so. I remember having to turn the volume up and down at least last summer and possibly the summer before - mediacom cable.

BobP.
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  #6  
Old 06-23-2006, 09:40 AM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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Thanks, I kind of figured it was something they were doing. If it were all the programming on 'x' channel I'd think it was the cable co., but where it's only certain (most) programs and the commercials are their same old annoyingly loud volume I figure it's something that Sci-Fi/USA are doing to the programs themselves.

It seems to be the repeats mostly that I've noticed. I wonder if it's something they've done to the programs to get them ready for DVD box sets?(i.e. normalize the volume)
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Old 07-21-2006, 07:53 PM
calgonix calgonix is offline
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If you go to their site, they have an explanation:
http://www.scifi.com/feedback/FAQ1.html

Why are commercials so LOUD?
Compression. Advertisers use compression so that everything in a commercial is about at the same (loud) audio level, close to the maximum allowable levels. This way, you can still hear their pitch even if you get up to go the kitchen or bathroom. SCI FI does not turn up the volume on these commercials they're just recorded and mixed that way. Most of our shows, however, are not in an audio-compressed format so they generally have a wider dynamic range than the ads. Since we can't go back and add compression to our shows, the ads tend to sound a lot louder than the programming.

It's been driving me crazy, and I found it this by searching today (along with this forum.) Sorry if the reply is late, but I thought someone might still be interested.
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  #8  
Old 07-23-2006, 06:49 PM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calgonix
If you go to their site, they have an explanation:
http://www.scifi.com/feedback/FAQ1.html

Why are commercials so LOUD?
Compression. Advertisers use compression so that everything in a commercial is about at the same (loud) audio level, close to the maximum allowable levels. This way, you can still hear their pitch even if you get up to go the kitchen or bathroom. SCI FI does not turn up the volume on these commercials — they're just recorded and mixed that way. Most of our shows, however, are not in an audio-compressed format so they generally have a wider dynamic range than the ads. Since we can't go back and add compression to our shows, the ads tend to sound a lot louder than the programming.

It's been driving me crazy, and I found it this by searching today (along with this forum.) Sorry if the reply is late, but I thought someone might still be interested.
Nope, that doesn't work for me. Go to most of the other networks, even current Sci-Fi/USA programming and the volume is normal. Sure the commercials are still louder than the programs, but nothing we havent' seen for years and years. However watch a repeat airing (say something from an old season of SG-1, etc) on Sci-Fi/USA and it is MUCH, MUCH more pronounced.

As a better example, set the volume during a commercial on another network and change over to Sci-Fi/USA and the commercials are the same volume, but the program volume is DRASTICALLY lower on Sci-FI/USA than on the other network.

I did notice that the volume on the new season airings on Sci-Fi/USA are very close to what they always have been. It seems to only show up on repeats of old seasons programs.
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  #9  
Old 07-25-2006, 11:00 PM
SprDtyF350 SprDtyF350 is offline
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I notice it on SciFi. The commercials are way loud compared to the show. It is doing it here (Comcast) on new episodes of Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis. Don't know about repeats since I don't watch them. Annoying yes...
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  #10  
Old 07-26-2006, 03:43 PM
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MeInMaui MeInMaui is offline
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Has anyone tried out this volume regulator? I'm considering getting one just to deal with the SciFi and USA commercial volume.

Aloha,
Mike
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  #11  
Old 07-27-2006, 06:50 AM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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I might think about it if there were any "useful" information on the website. "Works with standard audio connectors only" Is that RCA, Speaker Cable, what? Everything in my system (plain cable, 2 ReplayTV's, VCR, DVD, MediaREADY 5000, Roku PhotoBridge) goes through my AV receiver so the only common place to put it would be the speaker outs off the AV receiver.
I doubt that's what it's designed for/capable of.
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Old 07-27-2006, 12:19 PM
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Menehune Menehune is offline
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I would assume that "standard audio connectors"=RCA jacks.
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  #13  
Old 07-27-2006, 01:55 PM
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MeInMaui MeInMaui is offline
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I didn't mean to ruffle any feathers. I was just asking if anyone had tried it.

Here is a little more information that I was able to find at this link.

Here is a relevant snippet.

Quote:
The next logical step was to try to move the Octimax technology to a stand-alone device for consumer use. Luckily, quite a bit has changed in the DSP world since the first so-called general purpose devices were released. While these early devices provided quite a bit of processing power, they did many things well, but were not great at any one specific task. As consumer audio products started gaining momentum, the DSP manufacturers started developing devices targeted at specific operations such as Dolby Digital decoding for DVD players and television set top boxes, or MP3 decoding in portable devices.

These new devices also allowed Octiv to develop a low-cost single chip implementation of its Octimax technology. In cooperation with Terk (of powered antenna fame), they have produced a device called the "TV Volume Regulator model VR-1." This is somewhat of a misnomer as it can be used to regulate the volume of any two-channel audio source such as DVD, CD, and even cassettes. The idea is to place the VR-1 in between any source and the destination. An example might be to connect the left and right audio outputs of a cable set top box or a VCR to the VR-1, then connect the outputs of the VR-1 to the audio inputs on a television set. The result will be remarkably consistent loudness regardless of which channel you select. If you wish to watch a program with all of its transmitted dynamic range, simply flip the VR-1 into bypass. I purchased one and have it connected between my DirecTV receiver stereo output and the television set. This is how I usually watch television, but when I watch a DVD or rent an action adventure movie (and it's not too late at night), I will turn on my Dolby Digital receiver and turn off the television volume so that I get the full impact.
As far as I can tell, the unit uses RCA connectors. If there is a software solution out there, I'd actually prefer that. This was just the only option that I have been able to find so far.

Aloha,
Mike

EDIT: After some more searching I did find a freeware software utility called AutoMixer that is claimed to do automatic sound level control. It doesn't do me any good because it requires a sound card that has a sound level meter in the mixer. Mine doesn't have one, so I have no idea how well (read if) it works. I'm posting the link just in case someone might find it useful.
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Last edited by MeInMaui; 07-28-2006 at 02:15 AM.
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  #14  
Old 07-28-2006, 06:29 AM
waynedunham waynedunham is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MeInMaui
I didn't mean to ruffle any feathers. I was just asking if anyone had tried it.

Here is a little more information that I was able to find at this link.

Here is a relevant snippet.



As far as I can tell, the unit uses RCA connectors. If there is a software solution out there, I'd actually prefer that. This was just the only option that I have been able to find so far.
My feather's weren't ruffled, no worries there. From the snippet you posted it hooks up how I imagined, so I'd need 6 of them between the living room and the bedroom right now and more if I had a TV in the bedroom that had more than one input (running everything through an AV switcher right now).
So it's a non-starter for my application, but interesting in theory. I wonder how well it handles sources with a lot of range, say an action video where there's people talking one second and then a huge explosion or gun battle the next. Would it muffle the explosion/battle?
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Old 07-28-2006, 06:59 AM
BobPhoenix BobPhoenix is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waynedunham
My feather's weren't ruffled, no worries there. From the snippet you posted it hooks up how I imagined, so I'd need 6 of them between the living room and the bedroom right now and more if I had a TV in the bedroom that had more than one input (running everything through an AV switcher right now).
So it's a non-starter for my application, but interesting in theory. I wonder how well it handles sources with a lot of range, say an action video where there's people talking one second and then a huge explosion or gun battle the next. Would it muffle the explosion/battle?
Actually my preferred way would be between the PC and the AV receiver so that at least in theory you would only need one - or at least one for each input to the receiver anyway. This assumes it would work with SPDIF and not just analog and that may be a bad assumption. Or how about one for each Tuner that uses SVideo and RCA jacks to fix it before it is recorded? Would require more than one and wouldn't help SDTV coax or OTA HDTV but might fix the original recordings of SDTV through SVideo/Analog Audio inputs.

BobP.
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