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TV sound volume.
Old 07-01-2006, 03:48 PM   #1
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TV sound volume.

I have a 43" rear projection TV, and am having more trouble
hearing the dialog than I used to.* While I don't think I'm
having hearing problems, there is that possiblility.

I've always had some problems with sound on televisions . . .
ie: commercials blaring out, while the programs are much softer.* I've tried the various sound leveling features on the TV's, but they seem to make the symptoms worse.

Watching a typical TV show or movie, I'm adjusting the volume up and down over and over.* If it is especially hard to understand, I will use the closed captions to help me pick up the dialog because of the uneven sound even during the program.* It seems that for me to pick up everything, I have to play it so loud, that it bothers me and likely anyone else around.
The closed captions seem to solve that problem, but they
do distract me from the video, as I find myself reading them
even if I can understand and hear the dialog.


So my questions for some of you are . . .

Could my problem be that the background music is stepping
all over the dialog, because the sound is setup to be
played via "dolby 5.x and I'm just listening through the
stereo speakers?

Would I likely have better luck in understanding / hearing
the dialog if I installed a surround sound system?* (The speaker system would be a pain to setup in my house, and I've not been impressed with friend's systems, although they were very likely crappy and untuned.)

Are current movies / tv so focused on special sound effects
and such, that everyone has problems with understanding the dialog?* (Kind of like video special effects replacing story line in current movies).

Should I go and get my hearing checked? (note: my wife is having the the same problems, so maybe it should be phrased "we")
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-01-2006, 04:00 PM   #2
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Re: TV sound volume.

No, its not you. For some reason a whole lotta shows and movies have the dialog drowned out. Our setup has to have the center speaker dialed up to hear the dialog, same for a lot of people I know.

My dad actually bought a cheap dolby reciever with three speakers to do a dolby 3-channel setup so he could turn up the dialog and hear it.

Some newer televisions and dvd players have 'smart sound' options or 'dialog enhancers' to help resolve this.

Louder commercials are long time issues. You see, if you have a crappy product, the best way to get people to buy it is TO YELL AT THEM! :

Does your cable/sat box have any options for stereo output? Can you add a third 'dialog' center speaker to your setup? Feel like spending a couple of hundred bucks on a cheap setup to solve the problem?
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-01-2006, 04:07 PM   #3
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Re: TV sound volume.

My wife and I are 51 and 52 and are starting to lose our hearing.

We will watch anything on TV at least once in order to check out the new TV shows. This means we watch a lot of young people's TV because they are the advertiser's target audience. Most of these young person's TV shows are crap and have a lot of music during the dialogue. This means we can't understand what they are saying. I don't think we are missing anything.

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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 12:51 AM   #4
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Re: TV sound volume.

What a relief!
I thought it was just us with the main dialogue being drowned out on most shows and movies. Even with my 7.1 system I have to crank up the center speaker and I am thinking about getting a second one to make the center sound source louder.

Why do the sound engineers do this? I notice it especially on Discovery shows where the backround music is so loud you can't hear the narrator. What's with that? I know I have a hearing problem due to tinitis in one ear but I can still hear pretty well; except TV and movie dialogue. I see this becoming a major issue as us Boomers get older and can't hear as well. Maybe there is a market for secondary center channel sound enhancers as an after market add on to TVs.
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 02:56 AM   #5
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Re: TV sound volume.

So, what happens if you route your TV through an A/V box and tell the box to render the sound in, say, 2.1 instead of 5.1 or 7.1?* * Personally, I've never liked the sound mix I get with surround-sound enabled, so I almost always watch vids in 2.1, and it sounds fine to me.
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 08:50 AM   #6
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Re: TV sound volume.

This is what I figure:

1. Sound engineering is difficult, and/or the sound engineers aren't good.

2. Producers/directors seem to feel that you have to have music as a background all the time. Even our local news plays music during some of the reporting! We go to a local rodeo around here every year, and they always blare music during the events.

3. Many people don't care if they miss some of the dialog here and there. That's why producers get away with 1 and 2.
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 08:52 AM   #7
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Re: TV sound volume.

P.S. We have one set of speakers right on the end tables next to the couch -- that seems to help a lot.
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 08:56 AM   #8
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Re: TV sound volume.

Is it just me or are the friggin commercials way louder than the program?
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 10:33 AM   #9
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Re: TV sound volume.

I think what it is is that the movie theaters use multiple gigantic "center speakers" mounted behind or in the screen. These are probably tuned to provide optimum dialog volume for the "room" they're in, in conjunction with all the music and whizbangy sound effects.

Unfortunately, the guys who spin the stuff out onto a dvd apparently dont bother remixing the levels to satisfy the average 5.1 or 7.1 (or 112,342.1, whatever floats your boat).

We dropped the surround sound during baby proofing and frankly except for a few helicopter/jet flyover things or large shootout scenes, we dont miss the rear speakers. The subwoofer is nice. The center speaker is nice to have to switch to a dolby 3 channel if I cant hear the dialog in something. Most everything else, like wab, is done in 2.1 and its fine.

You can get an el cheapo dolby prologic or dolby digital receiver and a few cambridge soundworks speakers, do a nice little 3.1 setup thats crappy but probably still twice as good as whats built into your tv.
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 10:39 AM   #10
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Re: TV sound volume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
We dropped the surround sound during baby proofing and frankly except for a few helicopter/jet flyover things or large shootout scenes, we dont miss the rear speakers.* The subwoofer is nice.* The center speaker is nice to have to switch to a dolby 3 channel if I cant hear the dialog in something.* Most everything else, like wab, is done in 2.1 and its fine.
You can get an el cheapo dolby prologic or dolby digital receiver and a few cambridge soundworks speakers, do a nice little 3.1 setup thats crappy but probably still twice as good as whats built into your tv.
Geez I'm glad my spouse isn't reading this thread; I'd feel obligated to fix the shorted wire to the 20-year-old right-hand speaker fed from the 32" CRT TV...
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 10:49 AM   #11
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Re: TV sound volume.

Wait until she finds out that you've only been hearing half the dialog and sounds. Might explain a lot, like why Tom Cruise keeps talking to people and they dont talk back...
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 11:48 AM   #12
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Re: TV sound volume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle43
Is it just me or are the friggin commercials way louder than the program?
No its not you Eagle43. The friggin' things are louder than other programming to get your attention... even if you're in the next room! I don't have a stereo setup or a cable box. My new Sharp 27" has multiple inputs and outputs. What can I buy to hear the damn thing?


(don't say hearing aid )
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 11:51 AM   #13
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Re: TV sound volume.

A few folks at my Dad's sun city place have bought wireless headphones of various price points and technologies, and most have a volume control right on the earpiece or some other handy control. Tivo and its ilk are also helpful for "what the heck did he just say?" moments, although my wife and I usually find one piece of dialog in every movie or show that is completely unintelligible without closed captioning.
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 03:57 PM   #14
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Re: TV sound volume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by riskaverse
I have a 43" rear projection TV, and am having more trouble
hearing the dialog than I used to.* While I don't think I'm
having hearing problems, there is that possiblility.
This could have been my post, 43 in sony rear projection TV . Wife still works ,and I can't hear well. Something about rock concerts, guns, and loud work places. She is always yelling for me to turn down the TV. Part of the problem is the TV faces our bedroom. I've been thinking about those wireless headphones as well. Everyone of my friends who have got hearing aids hate them, so I'm not going that route just yet.....shredder
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Re: TV sound volume.
Old 07-02-2006, 03:59 PM   #15
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Re: TV sound volume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle43
Is it just me or are the friggin commercials way louder than the program?
I complained about this to two former TV producers.* They say that the volume isn't increased, the pitch is changed.* It seems to me that a sound tech could create a the handy-dandy gaget that would fix this trick.*

FYI, as we get older our ears are less able to hear some pitches (As my grandson said yesterday, "Grandpa put in your ears!").* The situation will be worse for those who attended rock concerts and disco joints.* If some sounds are tough to hear try having your hearing tested. *Make sure you fix the right problem.

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Old 07-02-2006, 08:01 PM   #16
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Re: TV sound volume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat
I complained about this to two former TV producers. They say that the volume isn't increased, the pitch is changed.
Actually, it's not the pitch, it's the average volume that they raise.

Warning: technobabble ahead.

TV stations normally adjust the volume of their programs and commercials so they have the same "peak volume" level. In other words, they'll adjust the volume of the show so that the loudest sound in the show is the TV station's maximum volume. Likewise, they'll adjust the volume of the commercial the same way, so the loudest sound in the commercial is also the TV station's maximum volume.

The problem is, we humans perceive loudness based on the average volume, not the maximum volume. People who make commercials take advantage of this by compressing the dynamic range of their audio - making the quiet parts louder and the loud parts quieter - so the average volume of the commercial is as close to the peak volume as possible.

So what happens is when the TV station adjusts the volume of the commercial, so that the peak volume of the commercial is the same as the peak volume of the show, the AVERAGE volume of the commercial ends up being much, much louder than the average volume of the show.

The first few pages of this paper have some background info-

http://dolby.com/assets/pdf/tech_lib...udness_AES.pdf

SC, former audio guy
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Old 07-02-2006, 11:19 PM   #17
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Re: TV sound volume.

Thanks, their excuses didn't make much sense to me but I didn't know how to evaluate it.
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Old 07-03-2006, 12:44 AM   #18
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Re: TV sound volume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shredder
I've been thinking about those wireless headphones as well. Everyone of my friends who have got hearing aids hate them, so I'm not going that route just yet.....shredder
We have a couple sets of Acoustic Research AW-771s.

By the time you get wireless headphones big enough to work well & fit comfortably, and assuming they're not dead out of the box, they're heavy & uncomfortable.

So spouse & kid are sticking with their wired headphones, even if the bunny chews the occasional wire...
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Old 07-03-2006, 01:25 AM   #19
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Re: TV sound volume.

I have a wireless headphone for bedroom use after DW goes to sleep. My insomnia keeps me awake far later than she so they come in handy when I want to watch TV or a movie in bed. She uses a sleep mask to keep the light out and it works great for both of us. The headphones are several years old and require a smack once in a while to get rid of the noisy volume control (analog); but otherwise I can even roam around the house and still hear the TV.

As for the main movie set up in the family room...even with all the side and rear speakers the front mains are not getting it done most of the time despite tweeking with the amp setup to boost the center speakers. I am still trying to keep it all in balance but the remix for home DVDs can often lead to too little signal going to the center speaker.

The article on average sound levels was interesting but until movie makers and TV broadcasters back off on the backround music and the boosted ambient sounds (most of which are added in after the initial dialogue was recorded) we will continue to experience a loss in clarity.

Sometimes I think we would be better off with the old TV single front 7 inch oval or round midrange speaker and mono sound. At least we could hear Wally and the Beaver talking.
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Old 07-03-2006, 09:31 AM   #20
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Re: TV sound volume.

TV Ears.
Got them a few months ago.
Love them.

http://www.tvears.com/

pp
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