Disney has been in the habit of ignoring cinema standards for home mixes and now mixes for TVs, sound bars. What does this mean?
- They are applying equalisation for the home environment
- They are applying some dynamic range compression to ensure dialogue is easy to hear
- They are mixing the soundtrack at a lower volume level
While this is annoying, I recommend using the following settings:
- Reference or Flat curve according to your preference (which one you usually use for movies) – I much prefer Reference in my set up.
- Dynamic EQ on
- Dynamic EQ offset to 0
- Dynamic Volume OFF
- Volume between -15 and 0 dBs (or more if you like it really loud). We normally listen to movies at -20dB and with Disney+, we have it at between -13dB to -10dB to sound somewhat equivalent.
Please comment below what setting sounds best to you with Disney+!+!
- Adaptive DRC off
- YPAO Volume on (But only if it is independent from Adaptive DRC on your AVR – this way you can listen to Disney+ at lower volumes without affecting timbre. I believe some older Yamaha AVRs force you to have both on at the same time so If you need to turn Adaptive DRC on, have both off!)
- Volume set to 10-15dB higher than normal
Please comment below what setting sounds best to you with Disney+!
Disney+ and IMAX Enhanced
Thankfully, IMAX enhanced sound is coming to Disney+, first in the form of new Atmos mixes and then in the form of DTS:X. While I don’t quite agree with what IMAX is doing in AVRs (see here for more), new un-neutered DTS:X mixes I can fully get on board with.
Having said that, the new Atmos mixes on the IMAX Enhanced Marvel movies are still lower in volume and need the above adjustments. We shall see how those DTS:X mixes will sound however.
So as it stands, we need to make changes to our AVRs every time we boot up Disney+.
If I had one advice for Disney – and Xperi (owners of DTS) -, it is this: provide the option for the full theatre mix to be streamable, please, without volume, re-equalisation and dynamic range compression. Sure, you can put the dynamically compressed soundtrack as the default for folks with TVs and soundbars, but take a leaf out of Apple’s book and offer the un-neutered version as well. If you were really smart, dynamic range compression would only take place within the Disney+ client during playback so you don’t have to create two mixes. We have had standards for how to do this since the 90s, so why reinvent the wheel?!