How should Les Miserables sound?
December 27, 2012 6:47 AM   Subscribe

What kind of sound does (or should) the film Les Miserables have?

My GF and I saw Les Miserables last night at a Showcase cinema. It sounded awful.

Here's what I noticed:
  • All sound seemed to be coming from the screen. At no point during the entire film could I hear anything from the theater's surround speakers.
  • If I closed my eyes, I couldn't detect any stereo effects. No gunfire from the left or right, or different positions for the actors.
  • The orchestra sounded tiny, particularly in the big numbers like One Day More.
  • Vocals were clear.
  • No strong bass. Even the cannons, which were at least loud, didn't produce a deep rumble.
Afterwards, I assumed that for some reason we only got the center channel, but I've now heard similar reports from people who saw it in at least two different theaters.

How "should" it have sounded? Could what we experienced have been just the center channel? Or is that just how it sounds?
posted by justkevin to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We saw a digital print and the sound was slightly better than what you had described but I still found it pretty lackluster for such a film.
posted by Captain_Science at 6:58 AM on December 27, 2012

Les Miserables was recorded live, rather than having the singers/actors record their songs in the studio and lip-synch to a soundtrack while being filmed. Therefore, the vocals sound much "thinner" than what people are used to in musical film.

That said, most of the vocal performances were pretty crappy, which didn't help.
posted by xingcat at 7:00 AM on December 27, 2012

Another country heard from: we saw it on Christmas Day and the sound was lackluster at best. Vocals annoyed the crap out of me so I just assumed I was loathing the film. Glad (?) to hear it wasn't just me.
posted by FlamingBore at 7:52 AM on December 27, 2012

Just to be clear: this is not a complaint about the vocals being recorded live. We could hear the actors' voices (and their flaws) fine. What was missing was any audio position, deep bass, and (what seemed like) most of the orchestra.
posted by justkevin at 8:30 AM on December 27, 2012

It sounded lovely where we saw it; definitely stereo, but I'm not sure about surround.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:33 AM on December 27, 2012

This happened to us too in a theater in Tucson AZ. Front speakers only, no surround sound. It was so distracting that I almost called the theater to complain.
posted by platinum at 4:02 PM on December 27, 2012

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