How to Amplify Dialog (aka Dialogue) on TV

What to do when the background music/effects is louder than voices on TV

LG Clear Voice II Settings Example

LG Electronics

Watching TV shows and movies on an HD or 4K Ultra HD TV looks great, but usually doesn't sound that good. Sometimes the music and/or sound effects are louder than the voices. Keep reading to learn how to amplify dialogue on TV.

Why You Can't Hear Dialogue on TV

Dialogue is best described as a traditional conversation between people, whereas in consumer electronics, Dialog usually refers to a dialog box on a computer screen or voices reproduced via a TV or home entertainment sound system as discussed below.

Sound Mixing

Original sound mixes for movies are designed to be heard in a movie theater rather than a home setting. Since movie theater acoustics are different, the balance between dialog, music, and sound effects, doesn't always translate well for home viewing.

Major studios try to adjust this for streaming, DVD, Blu-ray, or Ultra HD Blu-ray disc, but some studios just pass along the original theatrical mix. This often results in low volume dialog and other inconsistencies.

Thin Cabinets

There isn't enough interior room in today's thin TVs for adequate size speakers or for the speakers to vibrate enough air to produce good sound quality. 

Thin TVs
Getty Images, Luismmolina, Collection E+, 97891262

Dynamic Range Compression to the Rescue

Due to differences in human hearing ability, there isn't one precise TV voice enhancement solution, but the most common technique used to provide a more level voice balance is Dynamic Range Compression

  • Dynamic Range: The "distance" between the loudest and the softest sounds in a TV, movie, or music soundtrack. 
  • Compression: Not be confused with shrinking digital file sizes, compression is the shortening of the distance (range) between the loudest and softest portions of a soundtrack

Dynamic Range Compression lowers loud sounds (music and sound effects) and raises softer sounds (vocals and dialog), meaning all sounds are at a similar level so they can be heard more comfortably at both normal and lower volume.

Depending on the brand/model of TV or another device, dynamic range compression goes by several names:

  • DRC (Dynamic Range Control)
  • Speech or Dialog Enhancement
  • Volume Leveling
  • Clear Voice (LG)
  • Dolby Volume (Dolby Labs)
  • Accuvoice (Zvox Audio)
  • Audyssey Dynamic Volume (Audyssey)
  • Reduce Loud Sounds (Apple)
  • Studio Sound and TruVolume (DTS), etc...

TV Dialogue Voice Settings

The Voice Settings controls for every TV is a little different. Below are some of the most common TVs and how to manage Dialogue Voice Settings.

The steps to amplify voice or dialog vary between manufacturers, and the terms used, as mentioned above, may be different. Consult the user guide for your specific TV or device for details if it doesn't fit the steps and illustrations below.

LG TVs

Clear Voice for LG TVs makes voices more distinct. You can turn it on and let it handle the audio level automatically, but if you have Clear Voice versions II or III, you can adjust the voice emphasis up or down six positions.

LG Clear Voice III Settings Example
LG Electronics

To get to the Clear Voice settings, go to Home Page > Settings > Sound > Sound Mode Setting > Sound Mode > Clear Voice (II or III).

Roku TVs

Roku TVs (not applicable to Roku Streaming Sticks or Boxes) have several audio modes typically labeled: Normal, Speech, Theater, Big Bass, High Treble, and Music. If you're having trouble hearing voices, use the Speech option.

On your Roku TV, go to the Options Menu > Sound Mode > Speech

Roku TV Options Menu – Sound Mode – Speech

Samsung TVs

Samsung TV sound setting options vary by year and model.

One option a Samsung TV may provide is Clear Voice (not the same as LG's version), which brings up the voice level while lowering the background sound levels.

Samsung KU6300 Series TV – Clear Voice Setting

Another option is Amplify, which makes the TV sound louder overall, and may or may not assist in balancing the voice level.

Samsung KU6300 Series TV – Amplify Setting

Sony TVs (and DVD/Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray players)

Since Dolby audio sources are the primary source of improper voice/sound effects balance, Sony's Dynamic Range settings address this specifically. 

There may be some variation in the exact steps, but the general steps are outlined below. 

Press the HOME button on the Sony TV or device remote. From the on-screen menu, select Settings > Display & Sound (TVs) or Sound (DVD/Blu-ray/Ultra HD player) > Sound or Sound adjustments > Advanced Settings > Volume Level Adjustment or Input > Dolby Dynamic Range > Standard or Compressed.

Vizio TVs

Vizio TVs offer a Volume Leveling setting that may help. Also, if the TV has a surround sound setting, turning it off may provide a better balance between voices and the rest of the sound.

LeEco TV Sound Settings – News

Some TV brands/models may also provide a Dialog or News setting to improve voice levels. Try these settings to make voices clearer.

Control Dialogue Options on External Sources

You may be able to hear dialog and voices fine from programs you receive via Antenna and built-in streaming apps (if you have a smart TV), but sometimes have trouble hearing voices and dialog from external devices connected to your TV, such as a DVD/Blu-ray player or media streamer.

DVD/Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray Players

Some Blu-ray/DVD players either have a Dialog Enhancement or Dynamic Range Control (DRC) setting. Here is an example of what look for in the player's sound or audio setup menu.

Samsung UBD-K8500 Sound Settings – Dynamic Range Control ON

Apple TV

Apple TV devices have a setting called Reduce Loud Sounds. To find it, go to Main Menu > Settings > Video and Audio > Reduce Loud Sounds (On/Off as needed).

Apple TV Settings Menu – Reduce Loud Sounds

Select Apple TVs, such as the Apple TV 4K, allow you to press the microphone button on the Apple remote and tell Siri, "Reduce loud sounds."

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV options revolve around the fact that receiving a Dolby Digital surround signal doesn't always translate well when mixed down to the stereo speakers on the TV, resulting in soft voices.

Amazon Fire TV – Dolby Digital Plus Off Setting

To provide a possible solution, go to Home Screen > Settings > Display and Sounds > Audio > Dolby Digital Output > Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital Plus (Off). 

Chromecast

If you have trouble hearing voices from content streaming from Chromecast, there are no settings to address this, so you'll have to depend on your TV's audio settings. 

If you have other sources connected to your TV, such as a TIVO, Cable, or Satellite Box, check your specific model to see if there are audio settings that may help. Otherwise, just as with Chromecast, you'll have to use the settings available on your TV. 

Manage Dialogue on External Sound System Solutions

Another option to enhance dialog is to connect the TV to an external amplified speaker, soundbar, or home theater/speaker setup.

Voice Clarifying Speaker

The Voice Clarifying Speaker is an example of an external device that amplifies dialog and voice frequencies for those who have difficulty hearing. A wireless transmitter connects to a TV (or cable box, satellite box, DVD player or Blu-ray Disc player) equipped with either analog or digital optical output connections.

The transmitter sends a wireless audio signal to the speaker that can be placed near your seating location to better hear the TV, or near the source device using the speaker or plugging in headphones. 

TV Ears Voice Clarifying Speaker
Amazon

Sound Bars

Here are two examples:

ZVOX Audio: Zvox Audio soundbars include Accuvoice technology. An Accuvoice on/off button is provided on all ZVOX Audio remote controls. Other sound settings are provided, such as Output Leveling and Surround Mode that may also help.

Depending on the ZVOX Sound Bar/Base model, the Accuvoice feature may provide two to six voice boost levels.

ZVOX Audio Remote Control – Accuvoice Setting
ZVOX Audio

SONOS: The Sonos Playbar, PlayBase, and Beam have Speech Enhancement and Night Sound settings.

  • Speech Enhancement: Emphasizes audio frequencies associated with the dialog. 
  • Night Sound: Makes dialog clear while reducing the intensity of loud sounds when listening at a low volume.
Sonos Speech Enhancement and Night Sound Settings

Home Theater Systems

If your TV and source devices are connected to a home theater receiver/speaker setup, this provides settings allowing you to tweak the sound levels of each speaker. This means you can adjust the volume of the center channel separately from the other speakers so voices and dialog are clearer. 

Once the sound levels for each channel on a home theater receiver are set, when using the master volume control, those level relationships are maintained, so you don't have to continually reset the levels.

Onkyo TX-SR705 Home Theater Receiver – Center Channel Level Setting

Soundbars that include center channel and external surround speakers, such as several from Vizio, may provide similar sound level settings as a home theater receiver.