What's the best dvd to test out my new system?


I just replaced all speakers and my reciever and want to watch a movie with a soundtrack that will really just blow me away. also...i am somewhat of a movie critic, i don't like action movies just for the explosions, sounds, gore, etc... there are only a few action movies in the past that i really liked (T2, Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, Indiana Jones) how bout any ware movies? also...anyone have a preference DD or DTS?

John Allen

Get "Ronin" starring Robert De Niro and directed by John Frankenheimer (did the French Connection). It has one of the best car chases I have ever seen and it is a superb action movie. Perhaps the best spy thriller ever. Better still, the dialogue during the chase scenes was actually recorded in the car, not dubbed later in the studio. Thus, it will really test your system if you can hear all of the dialogue. If you can hear it all, you have a good system.

BTW, since the studio never promoted it when it was released, you can get it at Target for less than $10.

The Matrix is a great sci-fi film that has solid sound effects and wonderful video. The green "tinge" that slightly colors all the shots while the characters are in the Matrix as opposed to the less filtered filming when they are in the real world is a subtle but excellent touch. Nevermind the various philosophical questions that the movie poses from "what is reality and how can you be sure?" to the danger of reliance on machines to do many of our tasks.

"The Fifth Element", while considerably silly in much of the plot, is visually and sonically great. On a good sound system and a top flight monitor the "DIVA" scene in the last third of the movie is a knock-out. The movie is worthwhile just for watching the great sound and editting between the Diva singing (which is amazing) and "The Perfect Being" fighting to the jazzy operatic soundtrack.

"Amadeus" is a great story that is both visually and sonically stunning. "Chicago" that was just released is also visually and sonically a knock-out. While the music is certainly the jazz of the late 20's, the issues the movie deals with are just as current today as they were then. It is unavoidable in watching the movie not to draw parallels to O.J. Simpson, Jerry Springer Show "just notice me at any price" genre, and various issues that go back many centuries.

I agree. The Fifth Element is always the first DVD I pull out when testing a system. Its audio and Video are a feast for the eyes and ears.

Saving Private Ryan and Fight Club are also good for testing Audio.

My usual test dvd's are Terminator2[the beginning especially],Unforgiven[the last 4 chapters in the bar and as Eastwood is leaving town and the scene in Crimson Tide when Hackman introduces himself to the crew and the rain and thunder are circling around you. For color there is a scene in Vertigo in a flower shop that is amazing. The scene in Private Ryan when the tank rumbles towards the soldiers almost blows my walls apart. I also like Dark City for color, darkness etc.

"Koyaanisquatsi" has been released on dvd and definately will let you see and hear how good your system is. It is visually and audibly stunning.

John Allen
The Fellowship of the Ring extended edition (not the 'theatrical release') has DTS and great sound, very demanding of your system. The Mummy and Mummy returns is tosh but has DTS and huge special effects. Gladiator has great sound. The Bourne Identity has some nice subtle things. If you really want to test sound, try the DVD audios (5.1 DD and DTS) from Naxos. No distracting video! Beats SACD. Yes, the Matrix is a good one. Air Force one was a surround test disk a few years ago.

John Allen
Got kids? Harry Potter's mandrake potting and swooping owls are fun. Re sci fi Minority Report is good.

Pearl Harbor is good for testing too

Shaving Ryan's Privates!

A bang a minute!

Really good point re; the car chase in RONIN.

I don't agree with LOUD soundtracks necessarily being the best demonstration of a sound system.

As an example - when I test audio amps and CD players I use a mixture of Jazz, Classical (particularly strings for the top end) rock, spoken etc.... Even though I listen to a rock more than classical - it shows the system in all areas.

if you only ever watch action movies then test with an action movie etc.

just my 2p (I am in the UK)

John Allen
It will be 2c when UK joins the Euro...
DVD-audios will really test the sound. Take one to the dealer for the demo. Choose DTS.
I have just discovered NAD's EARS surround mode. Fantastic. Don't forget you probably have many CDs and video tapes, too.

You gotta get the Lord of The Rings, The Two Towers. It is a work of art and sonically it will blow your house down. My walls were shaking and all I have is an old Nak stereo receiver an NAD T532 and a pair of Monitor Audio B2's!

This is the first DVD I ever bought and tried and I think it will be hard to beat until the 3rd Lord of The Rings comes out of course.

If you are getting The Fifth Element, get the superbit version (silver cover).

Another short but thrilling scene can be found in "Behind Enemy Lines", when two American pilots in a F18 are trying to evade two SAMs (surface to air missile)!

John A.
The Two Towers. Great. But don't buy. Wait!
We have rented the "theatrical release". Yes, it is really something. But if you like sound (and Tolkein) wait until November to buy the extended edition. It will have DTS sound, and many scenes Peter Jackson reluctantly had to cut to bring the cinema release down to just over three hours. We have both versions of The Fellowship of the Ring (same pattern: theatrical realease, August; extended, November). The extended version is a different movie, and much, much better, with "Concerning hobbits", "Galdriel's gifts" and many other essentials. Commercial pressure spoiled the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar. IMHO. Off topic, sorry.

John A.

Whats the difference? I thought the "theatrical release" only means the aspect that the film originated in. Is there other differences?

Extended editions are gimmicks to boost sales IMO. They gather the cut film and stick it into the movie here and there but really dosen't create a better version, also IMO.

Not in this case, if it follows suit to FOTR which it appears it will, then its going to be a totally different movie. Also the extended DVD of FOTR was 6.1 DTS where the Theatrical release was not, Two Towers should also be. IMO Peter Jackson hit the nail on the head with his "extended versions", its not just cutting room floor material, this stuff was shot with the DVD in mind. I will never watch the theaterical release again once the extended one comes out.

U-571 and the depth charge scene, I know its loud but there are alot of ambient sounds (echos) that go on before and after the attack.

John A.
Anonymous; Anonymous II has it. Fellowship Extended Version takes another 30-40 minutes but then comes much closer to the book, a much better movie, no question, and the theatrical release is already great, I agree. But the Extended Version is more than great. And the DTS is a step ahead of DD. The scam is spinning along the customer with different releases. Surround speakers and an active sub warmly recommended in any case!

I found Final Destination 2 to have good surround effects. also it was shot in my home town! A big plus. The first car crash is the best part.

Yeah, but right now all I have is an old receiver and two speakers and I don't really want the DTS or even 5.1 that this version has. I won't be buying any other version of this release but for the next "last" TLOTR I will keep your "extended version" in mind.


The intro to A Bugs Life is great! The opening by THX just surprises me everytime, you hear the hammer in one rear, then the saw in the other rear, a bee flying from speaker to speaker- its insane.

Also, A Bugs Life was supposedly the first movie to have a sound track that was recorded digital and remained digital throughout it's entirety, therefore not losing ANY of its quality by conversions to analog and then to digital.

Thats what I was told by someone at the local home install shop, before they showed off they're $500,000 home theatre room to me. :)

Monsters Inc is good for audio and video, those power outage seens will startle ya if your not ready...another good choice is Diana Krall's dvd, Live in Paris

New release of Scarface.


I'm one of the lucky ones that have it already.

John A.
Chicago has just come out where I am. I second G-man's recommendation of Aug 27, both as regards sound and the movie itself. Stunning. I noticed in DTS my sub was on standby for chunks of the movie. They use LFE sparingly and I think it is all the more effective.

If you liked the music in Chicago, then, just for totally fantastic sound, consider the DVD-Audio:-

Shostakovich Jazz Suites Nos. 1 and 2 etc. Naxos 5.110006

It is not at all "heavy" stuff. Nearer the real 1920s mark, imho. Actually written nearer the time (1934). Totally amazing sound. It includes "Tahiti Trot" aka "Tea for Two". One of the Jazz Suites was used in Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut", apparently (I haven't seen that).

If, like me, you don't have "true" DVD-Audio, compare DTS 5.1 with Dolby Digital on that DVD-Audio disc. No contest. Really. Wish I could compare "true" DVD-Audio, too. Some say it is a leap forward in sound quality. I cannot imagine any further improvement on that disc.

I like DVD-Audio better than SACD. The DVD-Audio seems to control the subwoofer much better as it has digital steering of all frequencies, even when they convert to analog. Supposedly Sony is working on upgrading SACD to permit this.

John A.

Thanks. Since my newbie DVD-A posts I have at least read some reviews on players. I will have to try a DVD-A player and not waste people's time. But even without it, that Shostakovich (actually every DVD-A disc I've got - six, now, I think) is amazing.

I still think a lot of people are shy of DVD-A discs because they do not know they can already play them. If you tell me DVD-A gives much more than DTS I accept your view and it makes me even more curious to try it.

Re 1920s "Jazz" style, there is another Naxos by an American called Grofˇ. He didn't get it. Shostakovich did. And from Moscow. No wonder Stalin denounced him. He was dangerous.

John A.
The Lion King. Extended Home Theater Release.

John A.
OK, seriously esoteric. But this has to be the ultimate test of high fidelity surround sound. And if it doesn't resolve any audible differences between SACD and DVD-A, then nothing will.

Thomas Tallis (c1505-1585) wrote a 40-part motet, "Spem in alium". It is for eight choirs, each of five voices.

It has been recorded in the round. The singers form a circle around the listener. Choir 1 is front left; choir 2 front centre; choir 3 front right; and so on. It makes eight, if you think about it. One human voice to a part. Forty parts. The director, Harry Christophers, told the singers that none had anywhere to hide. None of these singers needs anywhere to hide.

The recording is available either on SACD/CD hybrid or DVD-A/DVD-V (the video is PAL only).


BTW 1. Just thinking about it, what would be the point of a rear centre channel, or a front centre for that matter? If you want each choir to have its own speaker (why? - even the five voices in each choir are spread out) you would need 8.1, at least.

BTW 2. There is lots more on the disc, including a setting of "Spem" in English, with instruments replacing voices in some of the choirs. The arrangement was made for the investiture of Henry (eldest son of James 1) as Prince of Wales. Henry died at 16, in 1612. His younger brother, Charles (later Charles I) inherited the dedication; "Henry" was crossed out and "Charles" written on the title page. I suppose that, too, is off-topic.

My DVD is on order. Just one response, and I'll post again when I've heard it.

I said it was esoteric.

"Wrong turn" find this dvd. this one will blow you away. both the audio and the video are excellent.

The movie I find to be the coolest in Surround Sound (its still 5.1 though) is Final Destination 2. In the car crash scene, it will blow you away when you first see it. Almost every car goes over your head then the sub(s) go crazy with the semi truck blowing up and you hear metals go flying past you. Its awsome. Also it was filmed on my local highway :-) a big plus!

John A.
1. The Two Towers, extended edition. For video, theatrical sound, special effects. And content.

2. I hear deafening silence after November 16, no suprise. But the thread is called "What's the best dvd to test out my new system?" so here it is, anyway. For audio only; and only if you can cope with the idea of testing your audio system to its limits, for sound reproduction. No further musical comments or judgements, just the facts. Off the cover.

Spem in Alium

Side 1: DVD-Video (audio tracks and video interviews)
Dolby Digital 4.0 Surround Sound
DTS 4.0 Surround Sound
Video interviews, extra features

Side 2: DVD-Audio (High definition audio)
96 kHz 24 Bit 4 Channel Surround Sound
96 kHz 24 Bit 2 Channel Stereo.

I will re-post that, and add some audio-only comments, on What does"DVD-audio" mean here?, a better location.

Unregistered guest
One of the best movies for testing your sound system would have to be The Haunting. It is in full Dolby Digital EX.

New member
Username: Amadeuz

Post Number: 1
Registered: 12-2003
I can't believe no one has mentioned the Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones. C'mon they aren't Oscar winners, but in terms of visual and sound they rock. The Pod Racer scene really tests your system. And if you want to test your subwoofer the beginning of Attack of the Clones and the meteor chase scene are also reference material. Beginning of Saving Private Ryan is definitely reference material. I'd also have to say the entire Mines of Moria sequence with the ogre and the Balrog in Fellowship of the Ring will really rock your system. Which scenes in Two Towers are really demanding? I really didn't find it to be that great. I thought Fellowship had better sound then Two Towers. Anyway just my two cents.

New member
Username: Kegger

Post Number: 8
Registered: 12-2003
oh man you see and hear th dts descrete version of blade2 the sound is incredable and there are plenty of lighting effects this will test your whole system it is amazing.

not to mention the movie is pretty cool too.

New member
Username: Michaelslb

Post Number: 3
Registered: 12-2003
Here's a few I've found to have stunning surround
sound effects:

-Finding Nemo (killer bass scenes and expectional
surround effects)
-Ronin (already mentioned above)
-Titan A.E. (get ready for a sub workout in the
Ice Fields scene!)
-Gladiator (an incredible movie also)
-Cast Away (especially the plane crash, and when
he's at sea - battling the waves)


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