Totally agree with you about the audio on modern stuff. I too can watch DVDs of old TV shows, Star Trek, Doctor Who, M*A*S*H etc and hear everything the characters are saying. With modern material I mostly end-up switching on the subtitles for the hard of hearing. (I'm not deaf!)
As for the cinema, did improvements in sound just mean everything GOT LOUDER?
Impressed by the sounds of: helicopters flying overhead in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The litter being blown about the streets in Batman.
Also the cinema I first saw Star Wars in had the film in focus for the whole showing. It's gone now of course.