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It is hard for me to find the right volume for my computer to watch my dvd's on because it seems like most reasonable volumes become overwhelming at the loudest parts of a movie and it is hard to even make out the dialog at the quietest parts. I find I'm constantly adjusting the volume during the course of a movie.

Are there ways to make the difference between the louds and the quiets not so extreme? (both computer related solutions and non-computer related solutions welcome). Like moving my speakers across the room and increasing the volume? or the opposite? Or would would the extremes be less noticeable if I used headphones? Are there movie players that might have more complex sound adjustment features?

If there is a software solution out there for linux that would be great too.

Thanks,

Dan

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To be sure, you need a Windows program, and maybe a Linux one too? –  Gnoupi Apr 19 '10 at 14:57
    
I mostly watch movies in Linux, so a Linux solution is preferred. –  Dan Apr 19 '10 at 15:01
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possible duplicate: superuser.com/questions/26998/real-time-sound-leveler ... note the comment on the accepted answer recommending JACK which is cross-platform and open-source. –  quack quixote Apr 19 '10 at 15:03
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5 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You want JACK and a set of plugins to do some combination of signal compression, equalization, mixing, and/or normalization.

JACK is like a software patch bay; it takes audio output from a program, routes that signal through VST plugins to do signal processing, and finally sends that signal to your destination of choice (your soundcard, or another program's audio input).

I expect you mostly want a compressor plugin for this usage, but based on Shivek's answer, you could also use it to apply your own mixdown and equalization from 5+-channel audio to 2-channel audio instead.

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Do you only have 2 speakers attached?

This may be part of the problem.

If you are watching a DVD with multi (5.1) channel audio on only 2.0 speakers then the player and/or sound card will have to compress all of the 6 channels into the 2 you have, and will not know how the mix should be made

If your hardware has 5.1 or greater capacity then you could try connecting up a 5.1 (or better) speaker system which will then allow you to hear all the channels in the correct spatial locations.

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This only half answers your question as I only know of a Windows application but I think what you need is the Linux equivalent of Breakaway Audio Enhancer

Breakaway Audio Enhancer dramatically improves the quality of the listening experience by digitally remastering audio in real-time with the same technology used by the pros in the music and broadcast business. Any media player playlist can sound like a professionally produced CD with automatic adjustment of volume dynamics and spectral balancing.

Breakaway Audio Enhancer incorporates state-of-the-art 4, 5, 6, or 7 band dynamics processor (depending on selected preset) that examines and adjusts the audio thousands of times a second. Low levels are intelligently raised and loud signals are kept under control, all in real-time. Anything playing in the media player or web browser, including MP3s, Video, Internet radio, or CDs will be digitally remastered for consistent volume level and spectral balance. Files are not scanned or modified. All the audio processing takes place in real-time while the audio is sent to your speakers or headphones.

With Breakaway Audio Enhancer there is no longer a need to purchase separate audio enhancement plug-ins for each of your media players. Breakaway Audio Enhancer will enhance the audio for all Windows audio & video players. It provides audio processing for the complete computer system.

(my emphasis)

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I use an audio compressor (hardware) between my source and my speakers. Depending on how it's set, this flattens the dynamic range by lowering the loud sections and raising the quiet sections.

It's also great for television where commercial breaks are so much louder than the show.

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god i'd love to have a hardware compressor to hook up between my tv and amp. i might just have to break down and build one DIY-style. –  quack quixote Apr 19 '10 at 16:00
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Some movie playing applications will have a "night mode" or similar. Basically it makes the loud parts quieter, and the quiet parts louder, to even out the overall volume.

What media player do you use to watch your DVD's? If you tell us the exact one, then we can see if that player has that option. For Linux, I'm sure 'mplayer' must have an option to do this, it has like 10000 options in it.

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