How to Amplify Dialog (aka Dialogue) on TV

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

Sometimes when watching TV shows and movies on an HD or 4K Ultra HD TV, the background music is louder than the voices on the TV. You can help mitigate this problem by learning how to use your TV's equalizer settings for dialogue. It may also be possible to adjust the sound on external devices like Blu-ray players.

Instructions in this article apply to TVs and devices made by various manufacturers, including LG, Roku, Sony, Samsung, Vizio, Apple, and Amazon.

LG Clear Voice II Settings Example

How to Amplify Dialogue on LG TVs

Clear Voice for LG TVs makes voices more distinct. You can turn it on and let it handle the audio level automatically. If you have Clear Voice versions II or III, you can manually adjust the voice emphasis as well.

To get to the Clear Voice settings, go to the Home Page and select Settings > Sound > Sound Mode Setting > Sound Mode > Clear Voice.

How to Amplify Dialogue on Roku TVs

Roku TVs have several audio modes, including Normal, Speech, Theater, Big Bass, High Treble, and Music. If you have trouble hearing voices, use the Speech option.

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

How to Amplify Dialogue on 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 the LG version), which brings up the voice level while lowering the background sound levels.

Another option is Amplify, which makes the TV sound louder overall.

How to Amplify Dialogue on Sony TVs (and DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray players)

Since Dolby audio is the primary source of the improper voice and sound effects balance, Sony's dynamic range settings address this specifically. The exact steps vary depending on the model. From the home menu, go to Settings and look for Display & Sound.

How to Amplify Dialogue on Vizio TVs

Vizio TVs offer a Volume Leveling setting. Some TV models may also provide Dialogue or News settings to improve voice levels. If the TV has a surround sound setting, turning it off may provide a better balance between voices and the rest of the sound.

How to Amplify Dialogue on Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV has a built-in feature that directly addresses problems with Dolby Digital. Go to the Home Screen and select Settings > Display and Sounds > Audio > Dolby Digital Output > Dolby Digital Plus (Off).

How to Amplify Dialogue on Apple TV

Apple TVs have a setting called Reduce Loud Sounds. To find it, go to Settings > Video and Audio > Reduce Loud Sounds.

Control Dialogue Options on DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray Players

Some Blu-ray and DVD players either have a dialogue enhancement or dynamic range control (DRC) setting. If you have other sources connected to your TV, such as a TIVO, cable, or a satellite box, check your specific model to see if there are audio settings that may help.

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.

Manage TV Dialogue on External Sound Systems

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

Voice Clarifying Speaker

A Voice Clarifying Speaker is an example of an external device that amplifies dialogue and voice frequencies for those who have difficulty hearing. A wireless transmitter connects to a TV (or a 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 hear the TV better.

TV Ears Voice Clarifying Speaker
Amazon

Sound Bars

Zvox Audio soundbars include Accuvoice technology. An Accuvoice on/off button is provided on all ZVOX Audio remote controls. Other sound settings, such as Output Leveling and Surround Mode, may also help. Depending on the ZVOX soundbar or base model, the Accuvoice feature may provide up to six voice boost levels.

The Sonos Playbar, PlayBase, and Beam have Speech Enhancement and Night Sound settings. Speech Enhancement emphasizes audio frequencies associated with the dialogue. Night Sound makes dialogue clear and reduces the intensity of loud sounds when listening at a low volume.

Home Theater Systems

If your TV and source devices are connected to a home theater receiver or speaker setup, adjust the volume of the center speaker channel separately from the other speakers so that voices and dialogue are clearer. Once the sound levels for each channel on a home theater receiver are set, you don't have to reset the levels continually.

Soundbars that include center-channel and external surround speakers may provide similar sound level settings as a home theater receiver.

Why You Can't Hear Dialogue on a TV

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 dialogue, music, and sound effects doesn't always translate well for home viewing.

Most studios adjust the sound for streaming, DVD, Blu-ray, or Ultra HD Blu-ray disc. Some studios pass along the original theatrical mix. This often results in low volume dialogue and other inconsistencies. Another issue is that there isn't enough interior room in today's thin TVs for adequate size speakers.

Dynamic Range Compression to the Rescue

Due to differences in human hearing ability, there isn't one precise TV voice enhancement solution. A common technique that provides a level voice balance is dynamic range compression.

Not to be confused with shrinking digital file sizes, this type of compression entails shortening the range between the loudest and softest portions of a soundtrack, known as the dynamic range.

Dynamic range compression lowers loud sounds (music and sound effects) and raises softer sounds (vocals and dialogue) so that all sounds are at a similar level. Depending on the brand and model of TV or another device, dynamic range compression goes by several names such as:

  • 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)

The steps to amplify voice or dialogue vary between manufacturers. Consult the user guide for your device if you run into problems with the steps above.

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