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Comcast SportsNet Bay Area sounds horrible

Discussion in 'DIRECTV Programming' started by videojanitor, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. videojanitor

    videojanitor DBSTalk Club Member

    412
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    Oct 8, 2006
    I am usually alone on this these things but I must start a thread about it. Sometime between the end of the Giants last season and the start of this one, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area has installed a massive amount of audio processing that completely ruins the game. To me, it is completely unlistenable.

    The crowd noise is pulled up to maximum volume at all times -- you can't tell the difference between a pitching change and a grand slam -- the excitement never dies down. This is ear pollution of the highest order. The games are not being MIXED this way, because the highlights on MLB.TV sound fine. In fact, I ended up dropping $125 for MLB.TV (even though I already have MLB/EI) just so I can watch these games without this butchering of the audio. It is SO much better -- I can relax and watch the game instead of feeling like my nerves are inside a blender.

    I can't believe they can do this and nobody complains. I HAVE complained, as have a few friends. I would urge anyone else who is irritated by this to go to their website, csnbayarea.com, click the "contact" link and send them a note. This is crazy and has to be stopped.

    ** To be clear, this isn't a DirecTV problem -- it's an issue from the provider.
     
  2. the future is now

    the future is now AllStar

    266
    18
    Jun 9, 2010
    Los Angeles
    thanks for this, the Giants are why i get MLB Extra Innings.

    i will complain and hope for the best.
     
  3. videojanitor

    videojanitor DBSTalk Club Member

    412
    2
    Oct 8, 2006
    Thanks. The more complaints the better. I've been trying to drum up support for this on various forums, and it's kind of astonishing (at least to me) that the vast majority don't notice this problem, or don't care. I don't expect everyone to be an audiophile, but this really does sound bad.

    For those who would like a visual representation of the issue, here is comparison of about thirty-seconds of audio from MLB.TV, and Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. As you can see, there is virtually zero variation in the level on CSNBA. It's just a constant wall-of-sound. On MLB.TV, the crowd noise is visibly lower than the announcers, and then comes up higher when things start happening. This tells the whole story:


    [​IMG]
     
  4. videojanitor

    videojanitor DBSTalk Club Member

    412
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    Oct 8, 2006
    Received a response today from Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. They acknowledged the problem and said they are working to fix it. Here's what they said, reposted by permission:

     
  5. lokar

    lokar Icon

    742
    12
    Oct 7, 2006
    That's cool you got such a detailed response from them and they admitted the problem. Most companies these days just deny everything or blame the problem on the user. I am very surprised they didn't tell you that your surround sound settings were wrong or something.
     
  6. videojanitor

    videojanitor DBSTalk Club Member

    412
    2
    Oct 8, 2006
    Yes, this was definitely not the kind of response I normally receive. I certainly applaud them for admitting there is a problem and that they are working on getting it fixed. That's all I can ask.
     
  7. the future is now

    the future is now AllStar

    266
    18
    Jun 9, 2010
    Los Angeles
    thank you for this update.
     
  8. Laxguy

    Laxguy Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense.

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    Dec 2, 2010
    Winters,...
    Nice info, and kudos to CC for forthrightness and a willingness to get things right.

    I do wonder how many folks bother with surround sound for a ball game?
     
  9. rotohead

    rotohead Legend

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    Nov 28, 2007
    Reno, NV
    I've muted the TV and listen to my radio during Giants games for awhile now. The audio from Comcast is so unbearable that my dog leaves the room. The LFE out of my subwoofer even hurts my ears. Hope Comcast fixes this soon.
     
  10. Laxguy

    Laxguy Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense.

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    Dec 2, 2010
    Winters,...
    Yes, I used to do that when announcers rubbed the wrong way, but Kruk and Kiup are all right by me. However, I record and FF through a lot, so radio won't work for me.
     
  11. Woochifer

    Woochifer Cool Member

    14
    0
    May 11, 2009
    This sounds like it could be a 5.1 to two-channel downmix issue. It's no different than playing a DVD (with a 5.1 surround audio track) using a two-channel audio output such as the TV speakers or a two-channel stereo, rather than a 5.1 surround system. I know that the Giants broadcasts are produced using 5.1 soundtracks, so the issues could emanate from the conversion process to two channels, assuming that you are in the majority that listens to TV audio using two speakers.

    The industry standard for downmixing a 5.1 soundtrack to two-channels will direct 71% of the sound from the surround channels into the main L/R channels. Basically, this downmixing is what your TV and/or cable/satellite receiver automatically do if you feed a 5.1 digital audio track and play it back in two-channel mode. If the Giants broadcast was produced with a lot of crowd noise in the surround channels and in the main L/R channels, then the crowd noise can easily drown everything out since the downmix will combine the crowd noise from both the surround channels and main channels. With most sports programming in 5.1 surround, I don't hear a huge amount of constant crowd noise, probably because of how lousy it would sound when played back through two channels.

    Since the announcers are probably not going to be mixed into the surround channels, this has the net effect of boosting the crowd noise when played back using two channels. This will likely sound fine on a 5.1 audio system, but totally out of balance using two channels. This also explains why the dialog on a lot of movie soundtracks is difficult to hear when played back on a TV. However, DVDs will often provide a separate 2.0 stereo track, which avoids this issue. With broadcast TV, there is no provision for including a separate 2.0 soundtrack, so optimizing the audio for 5.1 playback will likely compromise the two-channel playback.
     
  12. videojanitor

    videojanitor DBSTalk Club Member

    412
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    Oct 8, 2006
    Those are all reasonable thoughts, but it doesn't seem to be case here. If it was just a downmix issue, it wouldn't explain these things:

    1. The games are not mixed in 5.1. Fake 5.1 is created from a 2-channel mix.

    2. You can HEAR the compression on the announcers voices. There is no mistaking the sound of audio compression, when it is applied too heavily -- nothing else sounds like that.

    3. Sounds that have varying volume levels don't vary at all. Case in point: During the games in NY, airline flyovers were frequent. As the jets got farther away, the level of the jet noise remained constant, because the compressor (and AGC) was pulling it up. On the MLB.TV feed (truck mix), the level of the jet noise decreased as a function of distance.

    4. All peaks have been removed. There is no sharp attack on the crack of the bat. You can't hear it, and you can't see it (if you examine the waveform) -- it's all shaved off. On MLB.TV, it's still there.

    So, this is more than just a "crowd is too loud" issue. That's just the most obvious problem that the heavy compression causes.
     
  13. Laxguy

    Laxguy Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense.

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    Dec 2, 2010
    Winters,...
    Thanks in part to your posts, I've become more aware of sound, and just now, watching Premier League Soccer (206) I am hearing the thump! when the ball is kicked hard, a slight strum when kicked softer, but no voices from the field, and you know the players are mouthing off from time to time. Lots of crowd noise, especially jeering whistling!

    Is that done by low-pass or other wave-form filtering or enhancement?

    Also, love your handle.... and assume you are in the biz?
     
  14. videojanitor

    videojanitor DBSTalk Club Member

    412
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    Oct 8, 2006
    Yes indeed. I am now in my 38th year of working in TV. Yikes! I have always been interested in TV sound, even back when TVs did not have audio outputs. Back in the '70s, I got the schematic for the Sony TV I had, then went in and figured out where I could tap off the audio from the tuner -- I put my own "audio out" on the back and hooked it up to an amp and some speakers.

    It was miles better than the built-in speaker, but magnified the fact that the actual audio being transmitted was pretty dismal. Up until 1978, the frequency response of audio from ABC, NBC, and CBS had an upper limit of right around 5 kHz -- not much better than a telephone! This was due to the delivery method used to get the feeds to the affiliates -- the only place where you could hear the full frequency response was in LA or NY, as the local stations there were co-located with the network operations. When the new method of distributing audio went into effect, all stations starting receiving 15 kHz feeds -- for me, that was HUGE!

    In the mid-80s, stereo TV came to pass, though that was a mixed-bag. The consumer tuners by-and-large sounded terrible, with a restricted high end and odd-sounding artifacts. Not to mention the number of stations that employed horrible sounding stereo "synthesizers" which made everything sound hollow and phasey.

    In any event, over the years in the course of my job, I've fought battles with Paramount, Sony, Warner Bros., FOX, Universal and many others over audio issues. Although they fought hard, I never lost one -- I was always proven right in the end. :D

    Now, over-processing is my enemy, and this has been the most difficult battle of all. It is popping up everywhere and it seems there is no stopping it, mainly because very few people seem to notice or care. That is sad.

    As for your question about the soccer "thumps," I can't say for sure, but more than likely they do have some mics out that are EQ'd so that they mostly just pick up the lows. Mix that in with the rest of the crowd noise and you would get a nice little "kick" out of it.
     

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