How to Make Movie Dialog More Clear (and Explosions Quiet)

This feature is going to change the audio in ways the creators didn’t intend, and you might not want to leave it on all the time. It’s a handy feature when you’re putting on some random Marvel movie on a Tuesday night, but remember to turn it off if you’re planning to have people over when you watch Dune on opening night.

Upgrade Your Sound System to Something Better Than Stereo

If you don’t have a center speaker, then it might be worth upgrading to a better audio system. You don’t even necessarily have to get an expensive system–there are many soundbars for every budget. That said, if you have only a stereo soundbar, then all the audio from your movies is getting pumped into left and right channels, and that can be a problem.

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Since stereo systems don’t have a dedicated center speaker, the dialog audio will have to go to the left and right speakers. Most stereo systems will reduce the volume of the center channel before sending it to each speaker. However, if the dialog was already quieter than the rest of the movie’s soundtrack, then the result can be a poor mix where you can’t hear dialog very well.

When you look for a better sound system, try to get something that at least has a 3.1 setup. This refers to three speakers–left, right, and center–as well as one subwoofer. A 5.1 surround system. which adds two surround speakers, is even better in terms of immersion, but anything that adds a center channel will be a great improvement to your home theater.

Consider the Acoustics of Your Room

Most people don’t think too much about how sound bounces around their living room, because it’s not really the priority for a room you want to relax in. However, the room you’re in can have a huge impact on how you hear the movies you’re watching. If you have a lot of hardwood and bare walls, for example, the sound from your speakers can bounce around more easily and feel even louder. And potentially disturb your neighbors even more.

We don’t expect anyone to start installing acoustic panels in their living room just to dampen the sounds from a movie, but there are simpler adjustments that can help. Air conditioning systems, for example, can be very loud, but people tend to tune out these noises when they hear them every day. 

If you find yourself turning the TV up to overpower the AC, a fan, or a loud computer or console in the area, then you could try moving the TV away from those noises. You can also try turning off loud appliances while you’re watching. With less sound competition, you can turn the TV down a bit more and still have an easier time hearing the dialog.

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