This 11.5 Slashfilm article about Interstellar‘s bassy, soupy, dialogue-obscuring sound mix indicates that people are bitching about it all over the world. I was the first guy to complain about this (i.e., right after the 10.23 TCL Chinese elite-media screening), and a fair-sized percentage of HE commenters suggested it was because I have bad hearing. In any event today I heard from a venerated projection consultant about this issue, and he told me that a “qualified service technician” had applied a fix to the problem in a certain situation. He wouldn’t say what theatre or even what city, but here’s his report:
“On the subject of audio on Interstellar, I have been getting reports that the sound track is mixed such that the dialogue gets lost in scenes of dramatic sound effects,” he said. “This problem does not seem to be related to just the TCL Chinese. In one location the alignment tech boosted the center channel higher than [the] normal cinema spec to bring the dialogue up in relation to the Left/Right channels where most of the effects come from. This made the dialogue more prominent and therefore more distinguishable.
“Normally I would (and might still) argue against changing anything from established industry practices. In this case, I’m withholding judgment. My heart says he did the right thing, but my head tells me he did not.”
Wells to projection consultant: “If this guy made it easier for people to hear the Interstellar dialogue, how could he have possibly done wrong? Today’s [11.5] Slashfilm article makes it clear that this sound-mix issue is being complained about all over. The man stepped into a tough situation and presumably helped average folks to hear the movie. Indications are that Chris Nolan‘s mix is doing audience no favors but this guy fixed it, at least in this one location.
“Nolan’s mix is going to piss people off and probably hurt business to some extent because people are going to be bitching about these issues all over the place, and guys like your ‘qualified service technician’ friend are clearly heroes in this respect.”
In his Interstellar review, Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet writes that “the sound mix is rather horrendous as some of the quieter scenes are layered with a throbbing bass that is so distracting you’ll have a hard time focusing on what is being said, caring more about when the rumbling will ever end than what’s being said on screen.”
Here’s an Interstellar review excerpt from Boston Herald‘s Jim Verniere:
The Interstellar sound-fix situation is the reverse of what happened back in ’67 between Warren Beatty and a London projectionist. Beatty noticed that the sound was muffled and ran upstairs to the booth, and the projectionist told him he’d fixed what he felt was an atrocious, too-loud sound mix in Bonnie and Clyde regarding the gunshots.