Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

General questions or discussion about HandBrake, Video and/or audio transcoding, trends etc.
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StPatty33
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Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by StPatty33 » Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:18 pm

Hey, all!
I've been using Handbrake for my personal backups for about 5 years now, and don't know what I'd do without it. So I don't get too long-winded, I'll get right to it:

Background: While I thoroughly enjoy the most modern technology, I've been having to jump from rental home to rental home pretty much yearly over the last 5 years, and because of that, am just using a soundbar w/a wireless sub instead of running a full surround system. I'm just not motivated to come up with wire-stringing solutions for a new room every 12 months or so. I love surround, and want my files to have them for future usage, but in running my videos through my AppleTV and soundbar, I'm using stereo at the moment.
The Question: I just started backing up my newest television series Blu-ray purchase, and have done so with my usual settings, which includes an AAC mixdown of the 5.1 track, as well as an AC3 surround of said track. I've noticed that when watching these episodes post-encoding, that the stereo track has very quiet dialog, and super-loud sound effects. I also noticed that in the raw disc data, there is a 2.0 track available on the episodes, and while I haven't encoded it, it seems to have a much louder dialog (like, 3 times louder). So the question is--for a 2.0 track, should I be using the 2.0 track as the source, or do you find an AAC mixdown from the 5.1 (as is typically the default for preset settings) to be better the majority of the time?

Thanks in advance!

mduell
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by mduell » Thu Jul 21, 2016 12:39 am

Are you sure you're listening to the HB 2ch mixdown on your soundbar, not the 6ch AC3 track? AFAIK most soundbars support AC3.

rollin_eng
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by rollin_eng » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:33 am

Could you please post your logs, instructions can be found here:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=31236

StPatty33
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by StPatty33 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:47 am

Really? I'm supposed to provide logs when asking about others' personal encoding preferences? The logs aren't going to tell you how one track aurally compares to another. I'm asking people of their opinions and best practices.

StPatty33
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by StPatty33 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:50 am

mduell wrote:Are you sure you're listening to the HB 2ch mixdown on your soundbar, not the 6ch AC3 track? AFAIK most soundbars support AC3.
I use handbrake / Plex / Apple TV to get to my TV -> soundbar. All my Plex files default to stereo unless I manually specify otherwise when playing. I'm sure the bar will support AC3, I just use the AAC stereo because I know of course that 5.1 piped through 2.0 while playing certainly screws up the dialog volume.

mduell
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by mduell » Thu Jul 21, 2016 4:45 pm

StPatty33 wrote:Really? I'm supposed to provide logs when asking about others' personal encoding preferences? The logs aren't going to tell you how one track aurally compares to another. I'm asking people of their opinions and best practices.
Yea, absolutely. Users are notoriously bad at accurately and completely describing their platform, version, source, and settings.
StPatty33 wrote:
mduell wrote:Are you sure you're listening to the HB 2ch mixdown on your soundbar, not the 6ch AC3 track? AFAIK most soundbars support AC3.
I use handbrake / Plex / Apple TV to get to my TV -> soundbar. All my Plex files default to stereo unless I manually specify otherwise when playing. I'm sure the bar will support AC3, I just use the AAC stereo because I know of course that 5.1 piped through 2.0 while playing certainly screws up the dialog volume.
The soundbar may do a mixdown closer to what you're looking for, I'd give the AC3 track a try.

StPatty33
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by StPatty33 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 6:30 pm

Even pre-handbrake, just playing the Blu-ray source file on my PC, the 5.1 has low volume dialog, the 2.0 has loud (and seemingly more appropriate for stereo systems). After encoding, w/a 2.0 mixed down from 5.1, and a 5.1 AC3, both those audio tracks have the low volume dialog. As I've always just mixed down from the 5.1 for my 2.0 track, I'm curious as to whether other people have seen similar situations--where the 2.0 track (when available) appears to be preferable to the 5.1 for an encoded stereo audio. The question, then, has nothing to do with encoding other than what I asked:

Do you guys typically find that an encode from 5.1 or 2.0 into a 2.0 track gives you more appropriate results for 2.0 playback? There is no data to glean from logs in that question.

I thank you both for responding. If you don't have experience specifically in encoding 2.0 and playing back 2.0, then I fear there isn't much to add to this particular topic.

mduell
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by mduell » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:50 pm

I typically use the 5.1 source for my 2.0 outputs because the 2.0 tracks are often commentary or descriptive audio instead of clean audio.

There are possibly some settings in HB that could help with the volume difference between voice and sound effects. But without seeing the encode logs for a problematic encode, you'll find this forum very hesitant to try to provide specific advice given the risk it's a waste of everyone's time.

You can safely assume the regulars responding to you either have the specific experience or sufficient generalized audio/video encoding knowledge that they can address your questions if they choose to reply. This is why they absolutely insist on the encode logs, since the advice can be so fact-specific.

StPatty33
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by StPatty33 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 8:20 pm

mduell wrote:I typically use the 5.1 source for my 2.0 outputs because the 2.0 tracks are often commentary or descriptive audio instead of clean audio.
This is exactly why I never bothered rummaging through the various audio tracks of a source. I've always stuck with the default and mixed it down, save for the times when I specifically want to include a commentary track.

I basically just wanted to know if I'd been doing my files a disservice by using the same 5.1 source for both my 2.0 and 5.1 tracks. Given that you (being well versed) use the 5.1 track for your 2.0 outputs as well, I feel more comfortable sticking with what I've been doing all along.

I don't believe it's a problematic encode. This particular source is a full remaster of 25+ year old video, so it's possible the 2.0 track is an included "un-remastered" track, and the 5.1 is the newly remastered track, and that would explain the difference in the mix. It's not a major issue here, I just noticed while watching the files at night (with others sleeping), turning the volume down to the minimum while still being able to hear dialog results in still very loud sound effects.

Thanks again for your input. I think I'll stick with them as is and not re-encode 150+ files just to utilize that 2.0 track, haha.

mduell
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by mduell » Thu Jul 21, 2016 8:56 pm

StPatty33 wrote:I don't believe it's a problematic encode.

It's not a major issue here, I just noticed while watching the files at night (with others sleeping), turning the volume down to the minimum while still being able to hear dialog results in still very loud sound effects.
I'm so confused why you don't want help with this issue you keep complaining about.

But glad you're satisfied.

StPatty33
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by StPatty33 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:00 pm

It's not an issue with the encode itself--the raw files themselves, before ever touching handbrake, have that volume difference. All I'm asking is if that's NORMALLY how it is (since I don't usually mess with 2.0 source tracks).

mduell
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by mduell » Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:03 pm

It's not normal for me, since it's at least partially fixable in some cases with the right settings.

Woodstock
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Re: Preference for Stereo AAC Audio - 5.1 Mixdown or 2.0 Track?

Post by Woodstock » Thu Jul 21, 2016 10:05 pm

There was an explanation posted here a few months back that AC3 does audio dynamic range compression differently than AAC, and that there was a 3-4db apparent volume difference when decoded, with AC3 seeming louder. I've noticed it when switching between AAC and AC3 sources on my TV. So I try to do AC3 pass through when I can.

Edited to add: Ah, here it is....

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