- Hurt Locker
I choose this one for two reasons. First reason is obvious, the detonation of the bomb is not only a workout for volume, it also tests the tightness of the impact and the punch makes you feel like you are in the “Kill Zone” too. A good sub will start and stop the explosion scene swiftly and then there is an infra-sonic impact around the 25-15Hz zone, which only the better subs will show.
Then there is the ambience. Listen out for the breathing sounds, which place you in the bomb suit itself. The muffled voices outside, and then the use of bass to heighten the tension.
I would also suggest the Hurt Locker Sniper Duel
This scene is subtle at first, with sounds of the desert, good dialogue and ambient sounds, until the point of the first sniper sound. Then you will get the impact of the sniper rifle going off, and the click of the rounds, and the details of the rounds chambering etc. Subtle but effective and shows how your system handles such scene which are more quiet. Remember not everything is about noise, bass and volume.
5. Book of Eli
Now I chose a slightly different scene, which is the gunfight at the house. This scene has two major elements, the build up of the suspense to the point where Eli utters the old couple eat the people, which is why the hands shake, and the subsequent gunfight.
Note the sounds of the wind and the creaking floor boards, and then the use of bass to show the dawn of realisation.
The gunfight is a sound fest – this not only tests the explosions (the grenade), but more importantly, it tests the ability of your speakers and amp to make out all the sounds going on at the same time.
You will hear the sound of many types of weapons, their flight paths and the ricochet, then the impact of the bullets hitting the furniture and various parts of the house. Whilst this is happening, Denzel speakers and you will find out if your speakers can pick out the voices whilst all the action is going on. Those who are fond of turning everything up, you will find out if that just makes the explosions louder and the voices get drowned out or you can listen out for all the details.
The Paris street side scene is my favorite for showcasing the subwoofers.
The scene beings quietly, and if you go back far enough, and see the whole street bend upon itself, you will feel and hear the bass as the whole street begins to turn 90 degrees.
Then when Ellen Page’s mind starts to panic and the pavement starts to explode, look and listen. The explosions are multi-layered in both sight and sound. Each small fragment explodes into smaller bits, and does this in slow motion, followed by a faster movement.
The explosions detonate at a higher frequency but also have a low frequency after shock, and the explosions do so in a sequence, which is really high in SPL and will rattle your room fittings if they are not secure. Try it and see if there is a whole octave missing for those whose subs only go down to 40hz. And if you set your regular listening levels to 75db or so, the SPL meter will jump to close to 100 or more in this scene. But its not just about loudness, but the ability of your subs to react to each explosion separately, and make out impact after impact as the chain reaction occurs.
10. The Pacific
This show is a modern production and war movies tend to lend themselves to the best use of surrounds and subwoofers.
The assault at the airfield is a good mixture of action, with bullets flying about, coupled with good solid explosions and in the midst of this, the sound of men issuing commands and cries of pain.
(Band of Brothers – Assault on the 105mm gun)
This scene serves well as a comparison with The Pacific
The scene is underpinned by the constant barrage from the 105mm guns, which has impact and depth.
But the money is in the trench fights, when Dick Winters fights his way to each gun. In a well set up system, you can literally feel and hear the sound of bullets whizzing from the rear speakers towards the centre. There is both high frequency sound and low bass in the shots. This is accompanied by the sound of wood splinters from the bullets impacting on the trench embankments. Then hear the ring as the bullets hit the metal of the cannons, when he tries to get a hand grip on them.
The scene where he yells “fire in the hole” followed by a muffled low thud of the TNT going off when the ‘potato mashers’ detonate them, is low and tight.
14. Sherlock Holmes
This scene is great to demo the three key elements of HT again. When the detectives enter the slaughter house, its very quiet, and it is a test of the room treatment, that you can feel the quiet tension which then develops into the voice of Mark Armstrong encircling the duo. The locations seem random, but are well located, above and behind the listening position, then to the front and a few feet to the right and left of the front soundstage. At the same time, it is a test of the ability of your speakers to produce his baritone voice and whether it sounds right and similar from all the speakers or does it change from one location to the other.
Often in systems with a weedy centre speaker, the sonic tone is not convincing, and the tone changes as the voices goes to the rears. The sub should also assist in deepening the voice, especially if the surrounds are small ones.
This then leads to the delayed impact grenade explosions, in which you should hear the fragments of wood flying in the various directions, whilst being able to appreciate the depth of the bass when the staged explosions occur.
16. Masters and Commanders
This is a classic demo which shows off the best of both worlds. Everyone looks out for the cannonballs going off, and the impact of the cannons firing, followed by the trail of destruction, and the various sounds of splintering wood, as the ball wreaks havoc on the ship.
But also listen out for the sounds of men on the decks, and if the speakers are well placed, you will hear the footsteps Above and around you, walking in a circle and this is accompanied by other sounds of activity in the ship. You can turn up the volume all you like to get a bass kick, but the ambience noises rely on a low noise floor for the best effect and good speaker placement.
For a little bonus, also listen to the cello at work when the good doctor heads for the Galapagos. It’s a piece from Bach (Suite for solo cello No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007 Prelude) and if your sound system can handle good music, it should also do HT nicely.
24. A little chest thumping? Dragon Tiger Gate
If you have half a decent bass, you should feed your HT system with this disc, where bass is not a subtle kiss on your forehead, but a full Frenchie, and you get a real kick in the chest, nuts and everywhere else…
The final fight scene has bass coming from all 7 speakers, and the DTS-MA 7.1 track is powerful and immersive, and allows bass to leap out from everywhere. It even makes poorer subs sound better than they are….
25. Die Hard 4 – the movie with bass, deep and chest thumping stuff
25. Die Hard 4 – the movie with bass, deep and chest thumping stuff
I frequently use the scene where the four Frenchmen attack Justin Long, lots of mid-bass and deep impact and slam. Then in the tunnel scene, there is a scene with very deep bass as the car overturns and flies over their heads.
This is another good movie, the duel between Donnie Yen and Jet Li has lots of music, ambient sounds of raindrops and some impact and slam too. Also look out for the Blue Scene in the book room, where Jet Li flies around, and cuts the strings on the books. There is a lot of surround transitions, and when the books fall, the bass is very solid.
27. Dragon Hunter (French Cartoon)
The start of this movie has a very deep bass as the dragon comes in, and in many parts of the movie, the surrounds are constantly at work, with lots of little ambient sounds, and when the vampire T Rex appears near the end, it puts the Jurassic Park T Rex to shame.
I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.