Monday, 20 February 2017

Ranticles, with thanks to Two Blondes

Two Blondes posted on this subject today - "The Ranticle":

http://www.twoblondeswalking.com/author/dartmoor-365/

Okay, it's a new word they've invented with an obvious meaning. Here is the ranticle I made on their blog:


Last night I watched SS-GB because it is based on a Len Deighton book and I am a great fan but had not read that book. I gave it nearly a full hour and then switched off. I had only the vaguest idea of what was going on, and had only been able to understand about forty percent of the dialogue which was mostly whispered, and as for that elderly Scottish guy…. There seems to be a fine line here between acting in this method style and at the same time making the words comprehensible.
“Frustrated”, from Arnside.


6 comments:

Roderick Robinson said...

Time to investigate the possibility of playing your TV sound through your hi-fi system. We'd be pleased to give you a demo, though not during the next fortnight (Borderline, 23 titles booked)

Sir Hugh said...

I've been doing that for years.

Stuart Jeffries in the Guardian had the same complaint along with many others from the comments on his review.

Roderick Robinson said...

Hmmm, I thought your present system was comparatively new. In that case why not revert to TV sound through TV loudspeakers; the sound is shriller but may be clearer (if not as faithful to reality). I can show you the difference at the flick of a remote. Unusual to see you quoting the anti-Brexit Guardian. Five out of six areas in Cumbria voted for Brexit, only South Lakeland went for Remain. Moral: stay where you are, don't be tempted north.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - Complaints about the audio on that programme have now hit the national news so it wasn't just me in geriatric decline.

I did vote to remain and I do read the Guardian on-line regularly - in fact I now have a guilt complex and intend to make the voluntary regular subscription. Going north is my pleasure regardless of the politics. My MP is Tim Farron so make of that what you will.

Roderick Robinson said...

Memo to self: don't do comments before lunch (which is when I read The Guardian). You seem to be part of a critical consensus. Although I too am a Deighton fan,
there was no chance I would have watched SS-GB; the subject didn't appeal.

What surprises me is that this subject has taken such a long time to emerge. Perhaps because TV and movie critics have imagined, like you, that their hearing was defective and they didn't want to admit this in public.

For me poor audio has been around for at least a decade, especially in sound tracks associated with US movies and TV series. I started wondering whether there was some technical reason for this. TV sound, as I understand it, has a fairly narrow bandwidth (or it had during the pre-digital era) and this was necessary to prevent signals from one channel overlapping signals from another. In effect the original sound was topped and tailed (high and low frequencies chopped) and thus there was no point in linking a TV to a hi-fi amplifier since the input signal wouldn't be good enough to be handled.

It was my impression that the switchover from analogue to digital TV transmission, finally achieved by the BBC a few years ago, cured this problem. But I am not sure about the situation in the USA. Nor do I know what role cable TV (big in the USA) plays in this.

What I am sure of is a blurring of speech in US movies, in technical terms as if the signal-to-noise ratio had narrowed, as if the stuff you wanted to hear was subsiding into the background noise. And it was widespread although there were exceptions. I wondered if the technical specifications for sound recording in the US differed from those in the UK, perhaps dictated by the huge area occupied by the US. I wondered too if UK movies intended for export to the US might now favour US specs. And that this might apply to SS-GB, together with problems of accents and of whispering.

One other thing. Playing TV sound through a hi-fi amp and loudspeakers does have disadvantages. The sound can be "too real"; excessive wind roar is one problem, interviews in streets with heavy traffic may be hard to follow, acoustics in different buildings vary widely - from dead to hopelessly resonant. That's why it's useful to be able to switch back to the TV's comparatively lo-fi amp and speakers to check that your ears aren't failing.

Music I'm glad to say doesn't suffer. The new amp allows me to receive FM radio from the antenna or online. Both are superior to the previous hi-fi amp, thirty years old.

And that's probably enough.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - I find the sound for tv through my hi-fi is limited in quality, but still better than the tv's own, but it is nowhere near as good as the sound I get from DAB radio - that is excellent.