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Hackers (1995) DTS 5.1 Restoration

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This project is in the very early stages, so this thread is little more than a placeholder for now. I just want to gauge interest and see if anyone is able to assist.

The goal is to restore the original DTS 5.1 soundtrack for “Hackers”. The recent 20th anniversary bluray release only included a 2.0 soundtrack, and previous 5.1 mixes (DVD, digital download/streaming) appear to have been incorrectly mixed, possibly recreations. Theatrical DTS 5.1 audio discs are confirmed to exist for this film and are the planned source for this project.

Please contact me via private message if you are able to assist. Please DO NOT make public posts in this thread about where to source the DTS discs (speculative or otherwise)! I appreciate any efforts to help, but let’s do this the right way.

General posts about this project and the film itself are quite welcome!

HACK THE PLANET

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UPDATE: Thanks to a kind donor I have acquired a copy of the original theatrical DTS 6ch audio! I am now beginning work on converting it to an appropriate format. I will update here with my progress.

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Congrats.

Odd that the Laserdisc didn’t have a Dolby track.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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SilverWook said:

Congrats.

Odd that the Laserdisc didn’t have a Dolby track.

The US laserdisc seems to have had a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, though the JP laserdisc was stereo only. Without having access to the laserdisc 5.1 audio, I would guess it’s essentially the same as found on the later DVD (released in 1998).

DTS and Dolby Digital were relatively new and competing formats in the mid-90s, and they handled surround sound mixing differently. I can only imagine that the issues with the 5.1 mixes used in home releases were a result of having to remix the DTS soundtrack into Dolby format (assuming it wasn’t actually a ‘fake 5.1’ upmix from stereo).

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 (Edited)

Neither LD has Dolby Digital it seems. You can see the back of the U.S laserdisc here.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/HACKERS-LASERDISC-LASER-DISC-DELUXE-LETTERBOX-EDITION-VERY-GOOD-EXTENDED-PLAY-/191758198065

The movie poster only shows DTS, (and DTS stereo) so it might be one of those releases that had no Dolby Digital theatrical mix at all. Non DTS theaters would have played it in DTS Stereo, which was Dolby surround compatible.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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SilverWook said:

Neither LD has Dolby Digital it seems. You can see the back of the U.S laserdisc here.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/HACKERS-LASERDISC-LASER-DISC-DELUXE-LETTERBOX-EDITION-VERY-GOOD-EXTENDED-PLAY-/191758198065

The movie poster only shows DTS, (and DTS stereo) so it might be one of those releases that had no Dolby Digital theatrical mix at all. Non DTS theaters would have played it in DTS Stereo, which was Dolby surround compatible.

I guess LDDB is wrong about the US laserdisc. In any case, you’re right - there was no Dolby Digital theatrical mix, only DTS.

Progress update: I have successfully converted the DTS files to seperate mono WAVs for each channel. Slow and steady…!

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Very nice project for the cult film of the 90s, YES. Awesomely quotable and featuring a very cool soundtrack, hence despite the “cheese”, it’s still one of my favourites in terms of computer-related movies.

Recently, I already saw an ongoing discussion about the new Blu-ray release and the odd decision to include Stereo only:

https://www.shoutfactory.com/film/film-crime/hackers-20th-anniversary-edition1

Whereas the distributor claims that 2.0 would be the original mix and all others inaccurate upmixes, this is a contradiction to the fact that a few lucky people apparently got their hands on the DTS discs, allegedly containing superb 5.1 audio.

Besides that, interestingly, some obscure WEB-DL release (ahem) contains a 5.1 mix as well, which - for me - sounds way better than the Stereo-track provided by the official Blu-ray, which is why I synced it to the BD-video which worked pretty flawless. I’m not sure what it was derived from or if it has been artificially upmixed, but if so, they did a damn good job.

There were some theories about the surround channels simply delayed a bit to create the impression of surround sound, but in this case, I highly doubt it, as it’s simply too good for that.

In terms of Hackers on LaserDisc, for the sake of comparison, I even took the effort to import the Japanese version. The great as usual nice cover left aside, it turned out to be a disappointment. While the audio is decent (but comparable to the 2.0 mix from the Blu-ray), it unfortunately even contains a short crackling noise in the scene where they are sitting in front of Acid Burn’s “super-duper” laptop (with a PCI bus, not to forget 😉). Since it occurs on both tracks, analog and PCM, I assume it’s a mastering error. Sadly, not everyone gives movies such a careful treatment like we do. 😦

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schn4rk said:

SilverWook said:

Neither LD has Dolby Digital it seems. You can see the back of the U.S laserdisc here.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/HACKERS-LASERDISC-LASER-DISC-DELUXE-LETTERBOX-EDITION-VERY-GOOD-EXTENDED-PLAY-/191758198065

The movie poster only shows DTS, (and DTS stereo) so it might be one of those releases that had no Dolby Digital theatrical mix at all. Non DTS theaters would have played it in DTS Stereo, which was Dolby surround compatible.

I guess LDDB is wrong about the US laserdisc. In any case, you’re right - there was no Dolby Digital theatrical mix, only DTS.

Progress update: I have successfully converted the DTS files to seperate mono WAVs for each channel. Slow and steady…!

I’m really surprised that hackers was not one of the early titles released on Laser Disk with AC-3 ( aka. Dolby Digital ). The decoding hardware arrived in stores fall of 1995 while the software arrived early in that same year with Clear and Present Danger, True Lies, Forrest Gump, StarTrek: Generations, and Stargate. All of those being 1994 releases. Hackers was released in theaters fall of 1995, so in my opinion it was in a perfect position to get the AC-3 treatment for Laser Disc. Studios were really picky in those days.

Also, movies are not mixed in Dolby Digital, DTS, or SDDS. The studios contract the digital sound companies to make recordings of the studio masters. In the early days, studios only contracted one and some times two digital sound companies to make recordings, wich was why Hackers, was just a DTS only Movie. In the later years most all 35mm movie prints featured all three digital sound formats- Dolby Digital, DTS, and SDDS.

The DTS cinema format is pretty simple and straightforward. It is a 4:1 waveform compression codec very similar to what radio stations use in their
music servers. The audio is encoded in 16-bit 44.1kHz form with 5.0
channels encoded at a data rate of 820kb/s. The LFE signal is actually
recorded in the surrounds and filtered to the “.1” output via a crossover
filter. Since commercial cinema surround arrays are usually very limited in
low frequency response, this method works okay and makes the audio
compression of the format more efficient.

Venerable member of the “Red Eye” Knights

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Just finished syncing the Cinema DTS audio to the official Blu-ray release.

Since I don’t have any experience yet when it comes to visual syncing, I used the DTS 2.0 audio, which is provided by the Blu-ray instead as reference and speeded it up to 24 fps with eac3to so it nominally matches the speed of the Cinema DTS files.

It’s very interesting that the different parts of the soundtrack (AUD) are actually overlapping with some announcement on one channel that the reel is going to be switched.

I decoded the AUD files with foobar and an ATP-X100 decoder which compared to the Winamp plugin, has the advantage to provide 5.1 “out of the box”, thus it apparently generates the LFE channel and hopefully also applies the proper level adjustments according to the DTS standard.

I haven’t compared this decoder’s output with that of Winamp yet but it sounds fine so far.

It’s quite nutty that Hackers comes in stereo only on LaserDisc and the recent Blu-ray, having such a movie predestined for a 5.1 release.

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Yeah it’s crazy that it didn’t have AC-3 on laserdisc. I scratch my head at some of the titles they did release in AC-3 on laser disc that didn’t deserve it. Perhaps MGM didn’t bother to supply shout factory with the 5.1 master. All shout factory had to do was up-mix the stereo PCM to 5.1. It’s been done on tons of other movies that were only made in dolby stereo.

Looking forward to the finished product.

Venerable member of the “Red Eye” Knights

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 (Edited)

Today, I watched the result which I had synchronized and the following may be noted:

The 5.1 DTS audio is a big upgrade from the 2.0 DTS one provided by the offical Blu-ray-release, including the end title score “Grand Central Station” (one of my favorites) which heavily makes use of the surround channels as well.

The Stereo-Mix (or maybe ProLogic at best) naturally not just lacks that, but also the dynamic range which is considerably higher on the Cinema DTS. Hence shame on Shout!Factory that they let themselves be fobbed off with some lame downmix for this movie.

However, despite all the praise of the Cinema DTS, Hackers acoustically despite the fun it makes in general, is far from being perfect:

The dialog suffers from some kind of slight distortion throughout the entire movie (on all versions so I assume it’s in the mix), which for me is quite typical for undubbed US-movies. I don’t know why, but no matter what efforts they take nowadays to create some super-duper 7.1 and DTS-HD MA and Atmos and what not, the dialogs often enough still sound like they had been recorded with mikes from the 50s.

Besides that, unfortunately, the Cinema DTS isn’t totally flawless itself either. At 01:33:54 realtime (24fps, original 44.1 kHz of the source), there are two slight crackling sounds on both surround channels (SL, SR). Easy to fix with any audio editor (the sequence is essentially containing nothing but almost silence so it can be easily replaced with about 800ms which came before) but a bit disappointing nonetheless.

I also took the chance to compare the 5.1 AC3 mix, I already had from some obscure WEB-DL version, and as far as I can tell on a quick check, the mix is essential the same except for the stronger bass from the AC3 version (minus the crackling error). I was already tempting to use the famous term “ironically” here but I don’t know which version is the correct one. The AC3 one might be “cooked” or maybe the foobar APT-X 100 plugin is not the best decoder to use, I’m not sure.

I doubt it but I can’t rule out that the crackling is caused by the decoder either though it would be weird because the rest is flawless, but one never knows until we checked either an official APT-X 100 hardware decoder or the Winamp plugin at least.

I’m aware that some suggest the former 5.1 versions to be nothing but weird upmixes from the stereo source but at least the AC3 file I have sounds too good for me to be just that. Rather that someone already took the cinema source and put it into an AC3 encoder.

Anyway, good news is that the synchronization part is rather easy. The AC3 file, which might have been officially released through a DVD version already, only requires a simple offset. Same is true for the Cinema DTS although here one has to fiddle with the overlapping parts of course.

For the latter, I decided to take the BD video, treat it as 24fps instead of 24/1.001fps and let it run with the Cinema DTS at the unaltered sample rate of 44.1 kHz. This might not be BD-video compatible, but should work flawlessly on most network players or HTPCs.

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I agree in regards to hackers, seems like most of the mixes I’ve heard on many copies of Hackers doesn’t get the feel I remember right when I heard it in the past. I saw this movie at first on VHS format in the past and I remember the sound having a lot more punch and more dynamic range which made you feel the impact more. Hackers suffers from the same issue that many films have with this nearfield clean cut lifeless sound mixes being packed with movies nowadays. Most of the mixes for Hackers feel like they were designed for subpar speakers/headphones or even worse, soundbars. Hackers bluray version definately looks its best as compared to previous versions even if the colors are off a bit, but the Stereo Mix included in DTS-HD MA format doesn’t cut it for me. Probably the best mixes of the film Hackers I’ve heard is probably the HDTV SKY channel rip with its own AC3 version and the older original NTSC DVD AC3 version for the movie. No matter how many times I hear all these mixes doesn’t compare to the lush sound I remember from VHS Hi-Fi during those days in 1990s. VHS players obviously do something to the sound but I felt Hi-Fi sound from them, especially Hackers just sounded right to my ears, but it was analog after all.

I’m very interested in the Cinema DTS-HD mix of the film and would love to have it with a bluray rip. Hackers is still one of my all time favorite films and the soundtracks are great as well. This is a film that knew how to have fun with its characters and it showed, don’t care that it wasn’t realistic.

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I would verify the crackle using the winamp plugin (Eclipse) but it won’t read either set of my Hackers DTS discs (reads several other DTS discs I have just fine). At first I thought it was because of the encryption, but Hackers is from 1995 so shouldn’t be encrypted. Plus these are .AUD files…not .AUE.

The foobar plugin works, but that doesn’t help since you used that already. I don’t have speakers hooked up to the computer I was using, but I’ll try to listen to my discs with foobar and see if the same crackle is there.

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Were you already able to get it running in the meantime? Unfortunately I don’t even have a PC at hand now, otherwise I’d test it myself.

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Is there any update on this project? I’d love to have it as I feel like we got cheated with the Shout Factory release. Definitely should have been in 5.1 and they could have at least cleaned up the scratches and imperfections on the film for the blu-ray. Thanks!


**😮ver&out:
**mumbles

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Any update on this project? I’d love to see it some day so any update you can give us would be awesome!


**😮ver&out:
**mumbles

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@mumbles_:

Not sure whether schn4rk is still working on this but for the time being I could provide you the “raw” DTS APT-X100 footage so on a rainy day you could go ahead and sync it together on your own which in the case of Hackers luckily isn’t that difficult.

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little-endian said:

@mumbles_:

Not sure whether schn4rk is still working on this but for the time being I could provide you the “raw” DTS APT-X100 footage so on a rainy day you could go ahead and sync it together on your own which in the case of Hackers luckily isn’t that difficult.

That would be cool. Does it include the DTS track?


**😮ver&out:
**mumbles

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What do you mean by DTS track? The track I talk about contains the cinema DTS audio which is a completely different codec than the home video DTS variant but can be easily decoded via a Foobar plugin to 5.1 PCM. Hence no “classical” DTS involved here which could be decoded by AV-receivers directly.