Marvel’s summer superhero epic ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ just hit video on Friday (or two weeks earlier for those in Europe), and it’s already turning out to be one of the most controversial Blu-ray releases of the year. Not for the movie itself (though I think many viewers will agree that it’s a big disappointment), but for the audio quality of its soundtrack. Have you listened to the disc yet?
When our Blu-ray reviewer raved about the disc’s audio quality in his review, that generated a big debate in our site forum. Other viewers who’d watched it complained that the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack has very poor bass and little to no dynamic range. With this feedback in mind, he went back to rewatch portions of the disc, but still stands by his opinion. I’ve seen similar conversations happening on other home theater sites.
I watched the disc myself, and sadly I have to side with those who think it sounds poor. In fact, I’d go further and say that it sounded truly awful in my room. I can’t recall another big-budget movie of this caliber that has sounded so bad. The opening action scene is pretty representative of the rest of the movie. Although a few selected sound effects hit with big bass, the majority of other explosions and crashes and laser blasts and so forth are extremely weak. The musical score has no depth at all. In general, the soundtrack is very flat and dull and, in my opinion, sounds terrible.
Having said that, I will admit that I’ve been feeling lately that I need to upgrade at least one of the subwoofers in my home theater. However, I watched ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ immediately before this movie, and that one rocked my house at a much lower volume setting. In comparison, ‘Ultron’ is wimpy and bland. Even cranking up my master volume higher than my usual defaults did nothing to improve it.
In support of the review, this is not the only published article that has praised this disc. The very knowledgeable and respected Blu-ray critic over at AVSForum gave the disc’s audio a solid 86 out of 100. While he expressed some disappointment with the track’s dynamics, he didn’t feel that was a deal-breaker so long as you play the movie at a louder than normal volume.
A staff member at data-bass.com, a site devoted to an obsession with deep bass, measured the frequency response of this soundtrack and rated it 5 stars for dynamics. Extension only rated 3 stars, but still seems pretty respectable at 18 Hz. These results leave me perplexed, because they simply do not represent what I experienced when I watched the disc.
Since this controversy erupted, I’ve been conversing with two of my friends who are Blu-ray reviewers for other sites. Both of them are equipped with primo sound gear. One sides with me that the disc sounds awful. The other found it a little underwhelming but didn’t think it was terrible.
I find the wide range of opinions about this disc to be interesting. As someone who’s written a fair number of Blu-ray reviews, judging sound quality is perhaps the most subjective part of the process. Not only will each person have different ideas of what constitutes “good” or “bad” audio, but the experience of what you hear can be strongly affected by your speakers and sound equipment as well as the acoustics of the room in which you’re watching.
If you’re had a chance to watch the ‘Age of Ultron’ Blu-ray, what was your experience with it?