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.

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 Home Page > Settings > Sound > Sound Mode Setting > Sound Mode > Clear Voice.

LG Clear Voice III Settings Example
LG Electronics

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'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

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 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.

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

Since Dolby audio is the primary source of improper voice/sound effects balance, Sony's dynamic range settings address this specifically. The exact steps vary depending on your 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.

LeEco TV Sound Settings – News

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 Home Screen > Settings > Display and Sounds > Audio > Dolby Digital Output > Dolby Digital Plus (Off).

Amazon Fire TV – Dolby Digital Plus Off Setting

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.

Apple TV Settings Menu – Reduce Loud Sounds

Control Dialogue Options on DVD/Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray Players

Some Blu-ray/DVD players either have a dialogue enhancement or dynamic range control (DRC) setting. Here is an example of what to look for in the player's sound or audio setup menu.

Samsung UBD-K8500 Sound Settings – Dynamic Range Control ON

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. 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/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 better hear the TV.

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 Sound Bar/Base model, the Accuvoice feature may provide up to six voice boost levels.

ZVOX Audio Remote Control – Accuvoice Setting
ZVOX Audio

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 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, you can 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 continually reset the levels.

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

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 try to adjust the sound 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 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, but the most common technique used to provide a more level voice balance is dynamic range compression

Not be confused with shrinking digital file sizes, this type of compression entails shortening of 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/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 specific device if you run into problems with the steps above.