While watching a DVD I realized that in certain scenes there was some very annoying high frequency hiss. Logic's analyser told me, that they were at about 14kHz and 16,4kHz.

Since this is not the first DVD that has this kind of hiss I wonder if it is some error that happend while getting the film onto DVD or some other kind of error.

Does anybody of you have a clue?

9 Answers 9


Does it sound anything like HMI lighting? I hear that now and again. But I suppose that's more of a whine.

Recently I just watched a DVD with EXTREME hiss in some scenes coming from the center channel whenever dialogue was present. It was clearly being expanded downward between lines. Let's just say this film was about clocks and orphans. Anybody else notice this?

  • If you're referring to the film I believe you're referring to, I heard that in the theater too. Took me out of almost every scene. Apr 23, 2012 at 15:51
  • Wow I can't believe it was in the theater as well, I thought it was just a mistake in the DVD mix. I'm sure we're talking about the same film.
    – Max H.
    Apr 23, 2012 at 18:05
  • Given what was going on in some of those scenes the hiss was understandable. But certainly not all of them. I was just surprised at the decision to expand it so heavily. In a few cases, simply letting it play out between lines would've drawn less attention to it. Apr 24, 2012 at 16:23

It's highly possible the tone wasn't detectable on the stage if it was large enough to be running an X-Curve. And thus if the film wasn't re-mixed for DVD/BluRay as they normally are, it's possible that tone which was always present is now audible in a near-field/mid-field home theater environment. Don't know this for a fact, could be a possibility though.


Maybe it's your decoder?

  • Since it's not the first DVD to have the hiss, the lowest common denominator sounds like your DVD player, decoder and playback system. Have you tried these discs in another setup? Apr 23, 2012 at 15:46

Hmmmm... what was the DVD about? I mean, concerts? films?

  • It was a (at least I think) pretty known feature film. Not the biggest budget I guess, but I don't think that this is the explanation for it. Apr 19, 2012 at 21:31

It was just for reference :), I don't think that is the explanation either. However, it's useful to know it is a feature film.... Films are usually mixed in environments similar to those of a movie theatre; if I am not wrong, speakers in theaters usually don't go up very high in the frequency spectrum, they are quite dull, so it very probable that the hiss that you can hear in those frequencies wasn't very, or maybe at all audible in the mixing stage, so maybe they didn't re-mixed it for the DVD release and that's why you get some hiss, specially if you are listening in some -pretty good- quality monitors.

I hope that my knowledge is pretty accurate, and that this helps :).

  • 1
    Cinema speakers are full range, ie 20hz-20khz+ Although the response is not always as flat as those on the dubbing stage, the idea is to reproduce it as closely as possible. A theater would not be THX certified if not. Apr 23, 2012 at 13:35
  • Thanks for the info! I was indeed incorrect, I googles some cinema speaker brands and their specs do point out a frequency response up to 20khz. Thanks for correcting me (h5)! Apr 24, 2012 at 8:01

Was the hiss noticeable during the louder parts, too? Or just soft parts. Could be a result of improper dither. Compressing audio for DVD, you have to dither down to 12 or 16 bit, which can cause an audible hiss in the lower levels. Just a thought. My guess is residual tape hiss if it's an older film that's been put to DVD without re-mastering (as was mentioned) if not that.

  • the hiss was very audible between dialog parts. And the film itself is from 2005, so maybe it ain`t tape hiss. The info about DVD dithering is great, I never actually knew so far.Thanks Apr 20, 2012 at 0:01

Or maybe it's all about the original location sound recording :) There is so much needed to be done while shooting. Muting HMIs, Camera noise, HD noise of RED and such, killing reverbs etc... And sometimes location recording team don't get the chance to do their job properly, unfortunately. And maybe those productions don't appreciate clean dialog so much that they'd ADR such problematic scenes...

Bye / Tumppi


Have you tried ripping the DVD to see if it's actually on the disc? This would be the best way to determine if it's your equipment or not.


I've noticed this as well in certain films, big and small budget. Generally seems to only happen when dialogue is played, which leads me to believe it is from the location sound. I've even once noticed it only for one actors dialogue. Seems like it would be easy to filter out with a narrow band eq or a noise remover plugin. Then again if your hearing doesn't exceed 12K, you're not getting that information.

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