Changing sound level with HDTV vs. satellite, 35mm slides to CD/DVD

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich
Week 15, 2007

Q: We recently purchased our first HDTV. I haven’t converted my satellite to HD yet, but watch the local channels in HD via your recommended Phillips Silver Sensor antenna. I route all sound through the TV back to my old receiver and listen in simple ol’ Pro-Logic surround.

Sound from the satellite or DVD sources is always even and balanced, but there is great sound variance when I view HD via the antenna. Some commercials are far louder than programs; some programs exhibit overpowering rear sound. Are the local broadcasters still experimenting, or is it me?

-Jim Barcel, Golden Valley, MN

A: It’s not you- it’s the broadcasters, and I’ve noticed this myself in another part of the country. It happens when watching with my rooftop antenna hooked up to the HDTV’s tuner or a separate HDTV tuner, and whether using my Citation 7.0 Six-Axis processor (similar system to Pro-Logic II) or any number of Dolby Digital processors I have tested. That tells me the volume of the commercials is definitely being broadcast at a higher volume than the program material. I haven’t noticed it when watching HDTV from satellite, such as on Mark Cuban’s HDNet or Discovery Channel HD.

Until the broadcasters get their act together, there is little you can do to combat it the problem with your current equipment. When you upgrade to a Dolby Digital receiver or processor, look for one that has a dynamic range control sometimes called “midnight mode”. This will limit the dynamic range and keep the volume from being quite as far out of proportion to the program, though it is still going to come across somewhat louder.

I do recommend you upgrade to a digital receiver soon as the benefits of Dolby Digital and DTS are pronounced, especially compared to the ancient Pro-Logic format. You will be able to use Dolby Digital and DTS with DVDs as well as with HDTV, so you are going to improve the sound from more than one source.

Your new receiver will also include Dolby Pro-Logic II, a drastic improvement over the original Pro-Logic when watching regular TV broadcasts and with music.

Q: I have many, many 35 MM slides that I would like to put on DVD’s if possible. In the years 1965 – 1970 we traveled and lived overseas, slides were the choice then, as Digital is today. I still have my projector however, to much trouble to look at the pictures.
What would be your suggestion? Also how long will DVD’s last?

-Betty Orr, Little Egg Harbor, NJ

A: What you need is a scanner with a slide mount and a lbacklit cover for scanning transparencies. This will involve scanning them one by one- a lot of work. After you scan them you can save the digital pictures to DVD.
The DVDs should last 25 years or more. You may want to put them on CD instead as many DVD players will play jpgs saved on CD. Archival quality CDs will last 100 years. You can see an example of archival CDs at

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