Home Theater & Entertainment TV & Displays How to Amplify Dialog (aka Dialogue) on TV What to do when the background music/effects is louder than voices on TV by Robert Silva Writer Robert Silva has written about audio, video, and home theater topics since 1998. Robert has written for Dishinfo.com, and made appearances on the YouTube series Home Theater Geeks. our editorial process Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Robert Silva Updated on February 12, 2020 LG Electronics TV & Displays Samsung Projectors Antennas HDMI & Connections Remote Controls Tweet Share Email 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. 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 EnhancementVolume LevelingClear 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 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 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. Another option is Amplify, which makes the TV sound louder overall, and may or may not assist in balancing the voice level. 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. 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. 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). 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. 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. 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 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. 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. 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.