If you’re having trouble hearing dialogue on your TV, an amplifier is usually the best and cheapest solution. Not only will the soundbar improve your TV’s sound quality, but it will also give you the option to boost dialogue or normalize volume levels.
It’s a timeless complaint—you can’t hear the dialogue on the TV, and turning up the volume doesn’t really help. Everyone faces this situation at some point in their lives. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to fix this problem.
Why does the dialogue look so quiet on my TV?
Televisions are thinner and lighter than ever before. It can’t accommodate large speakers, so it produces a very thin sound. Volume up should It helps, but instead, the sound distorts and echoes inside the lightweight TV, creating a blanket that muffles dialogue.
In addition, modern TVs usually direct their own speakers far away from the viewer. And as you know, speakers sound better when they’re pointed toward your ears, rather than against the floor or wall.
But TVs aren’t the only problem. Movies tend to have very “quiet” dialogue because they are intended for a theatrical setting. Dialogue might sound crystal clear in a cinema with the proper Dolby Atmos setting, but sound fuzzy or muted when played through a TV’s stereo speakers. (New shows are also headed in this direction, for better or worse.)
We must also admit that hearing loss and tinnitus are fairly common, especially among men. Mild hearing loss may reduce your ability to hear certain frequencies, including the high and mid frequencies that give sounds their clarity. And although tinnitus does not contribute to hearing loss, severe tinnitus can interfere with your hearing.
Adjust the settings on your TV or Streaming Stick
TV speakers have never sounded so amazing. But if you play with your TV’s settings, you might be able to boost the dialogue in shows and movies. It’s worth a shot, and if you’re happy with the results, you can avoid buying a speaker or pair of headphones.
Open the TV settings and go to “Sound”. Before messing around with anything, find the Surround Sound option and make sure it is disabled. Platforms like Netflix Is that true It’s bad at guessing what audio format you need, and by disabling this setting we can guarantee you’ll only get stereo sound.
Now, check your TV’s settings for “Audio Presets” or “Listening Modes”. If you’re lucky, you’ll see an option labeled Enhance Dialogue or Clear Voices. Enable this option if available. You can also try adjusting the TV’s equalizer – your best bet is to boost in the high-mids (although not all TVs have this option).
Do you use a broadcast stick? Look in its sound settings to disable ambient sound, and see if it offers some kind of dialogue-enhancing mode. Don’t skip this step, as there’s a good chance that your live stream (instead of your TV) is the root of the problem. (Android TV is the worst in my experience.)
You may also find the Loudness Adjustment, Auto Volume, or TruVolume mode on your Smart TV. This setting reduces the dynamic range of a show or movie – quiet parts sound louder, while noisy parts become quieter. I suggest you give this setup a quick test, but you might not like how it looks. (Night mode can also level volume levels, by the way.)
After taking these steps, the dialogue should It looks much clearer on your TV. But improvement may not be enough. If you’re still not happy, I suggest buying the speakers.
Or just buy an amplifier
Again, modern TVs have pretty awful speakers. The quickest and easiest fix is with speakers—almost any speaker will provide an immediate improvement in sound quality and dialogue clarity, even if it’s a cheaper model.
People get intimidated by loudspeakers, but really, it’s pretty easy to set up. Most soundbars connect to your TV via HDMI, optical cable, or Bluetooth. I suggest using HDMI, as it provides a seamless experience and provides the highest quality audio. (Don’t worry, soundbars usually have an extra HDMI input, which makes up for what you lose on the TV.)
Once you plug in the speaker, don’t Need to do any setting. However, you may want to read the instruction manual to see if there are any settings to enhance dialogue.
If you’re buying speakers with Dolby Atmos virtualization, make sure surround sound is enabled on your TV, streaming stick, and game consoles. The default Dolby Atmos simulates a surround sound system, and may provide greater audio clarity than stereo.
Any brand of soundbar will work with the TV. However, speakers from your TV manufacturer will provide a smoother experience. If you’re on a budget, I’d suggest avoiding no-name brands and buying speakers from VIZIO or YAMAHA, as these brands tend to offer the best quality for under $200.
Note that some soundbars come with additional speakers, which will improve the sound quality of your TV. Also, brands like Bose, Sonos, Sony, and Klipsch sell additional speakers for select soundbars.
Try wireless headphones or a neck speaker
Some people have no problem hearing dialogue when their TV volume is on high. But let’s face the facts. Turning up the volume is not always an option. Your spouse or family may not appreciate the noise, and if you have children, you may find yourself bending over backwards to avoid profanity.
A personal audio solution, such as a pair of wireless headphones or earbuds, can eliminate this problem. When you want to enjoy something on TV, just put on a pair of headphones and enjoy the ride.
Most smart TVs support Bluetooth, and it will work with any pair of Bluetooth headphones or earbuds. For a smoother experience, I’d suggest using a set of RF headphones – they offer better sound quality than Bluetooth with much lower latency. In addition, the RF headphones do not have the difficult pairing process that plagues Bluetooth devices.
You can also try a wireless neck speaker. Basically, it’s a speaker that sits around your shoulders and directs sound toward your ears. Neckband headphones are more comfortable than headphones, and allow you to listen to your surroundings without disturbing the people around you.
If you are a movie buff, build a home theater system
Do you watch movies regularly at home? If so, consider building a home theater. This may seem like a big investment, but the components you use in your home theater are easy to upgrade and resell. Plus, you can start small and slowly work your way up to something incredible – no one forces you to go out with guns blazing, and even the most basic setup gives you a better viewing experience.
Since we’re starting small, let’s focus on audio. You will need an A/V receiver and a set of passive amplifiers. These things can be bought new or used. If you’re shopping on eBay, doing a garage sale, or hanging out at a thrift store, you might be able to set things up for $150 or less.
Your A/V receiver is basically the brains of your home theater. It features multiple HDMI ports for all of your devices, as well as audio inputs for CD players, record players, etc. Your A/V receiver may also feature Bluetooth or Wi-Fi audio support, which allows you to stream audio from your phone to your home theater speakers.
Because the AV receiver provides the amplification, you can (and usually should) use passive speakers in your home theater. Passive speakers do not require power from an outlet, and are usually more affordable than active speakers. (Note that passive amplifiers haven’t changed much over the past few decades, so they’re easy to find at any thrift store, garage sale, or flea market.)
The only hard part is the wiring. You will need a spool of speaker wire to connect all of your speakers to the A/V receiver. You might also need some cable runners to keep everything nice and tidy. (If you’re feeling bold, you can run these wires through your walls.)
If you choose to go this route, I’d suggest buying a modern A/V receiver that supports 4K video and HDMI ARC (to save you upgrading later). You should also pay close attention to how many audio channels a receiver supports—if you want something simple, a 5.2-channel system is fine. It will offer a lot of upgradeability and will support Dolby Atmos surround sound.
You can buy home theater speakers anywhere. It’s usually best to start simple, so my advice is to buy a pair of bookshelf speakers from a brand like Klipsch. Adding a center channel speaker to the mix will give dialogue more clarity, but a simple pair of tweeters may be all you need.
And as I mentioned earlier, you can buy used speakers at any flea market, thrift store, or garage sale. Keep an eye out for speakers that feel bulky or heavy, as this is usually a sign of quality.
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