The action/comedy Night at the Museum is a Jumanji-type film set in the New York Museum of Natural History where literally, history comes alive and chases after Ben Stiller. More to the point, its sound design is as creative as its computer-generated visual effects. Chapter 5 presents a terrific subwoofer test: When the T-Rex exhibit comes out to play; the combination of the sound effect of the fossil foot hitting the ground and the double-bass notes of the orchestral score produce quite a jolt. The CVHD-12S subwoofer kept the two sounds separate and distinct as the dinosaur was chasing around the museum. The sub's musicality was evident throughout the film as it pumped out the bottom octave of the orchestral score.
The satellites were as lively as the museum's exhibits; the dynamics of both score and effects sounded appropriately punchy. As in music-only listening, the sats were more aggressive in the upper midrange than I usually prefer, but they were also exciting to listen to. And the same excellent dispersion I heard on music was evident here in the system's enveloping sound field. The center speaker's intelligibility was spot-on, contributing a little coloration on male voices but nothing that really got in the way. Its horizontal dispersion was about par, with typical treble roll-off and increased coloration on the edges of my sweet spot. And though it's true that direct-firing surrounds such as these can't provide the same degree of nonlocalized ambience as dipoles, these weren't bad. If you hear hot spots, a little creative re-aiming should solve the problem.
The best showcase for the CVHD system was in Chapter 22 of Night at the Museum, as the exhibits return to their proper places within the museum. This scene demonstrates the importance of having satellite speakers that can handle a little bit of low end without relying entirely on the subwoofer. When the massive elephant walks across the balcony, the impact of its footsteps is panned across the speakers to follow the action. On some systems that don't achieve smooth blending of the subwoofer and satellites, all of those low frequencies would come from the sub, and the panning effect would be lost. But the CVHD satellites are nicely integrated here and handle just enough upper bass to allow the elephant's deep, pounding footsteps to follow his (her?) movement across the screen.
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