Old TV’s had speakers facing the front, now they are smaller and face the back of the TV. Added a soundbar to try and make voices clearer. This adds dynamic sound effects but even after reducing bass and increasing treble voices still not clear. Hearing test had good result.
We have noticed the same and now use subtitles.
Like @June I too have begun to use subtitles so as not to miss the things people say. I havent had a hearing test but I don’t think I need one, given that at other times, the voices are clear as… I think its more about production than the TV speakers
The introduction of modern slim line TVs necessitated the ‘miniaturisation’ of speakers to fit into the TVs. Consequently the quality of sound reproduction has diminished. Sound bars are one answer, but they too may have small speakers even if they are amplified. For this reason, as indicated above a sound bar may not help.
An ‘old school’ solution is to connect the TV to an amplifier and speakers as found in stereo systems. Even modern ones often have an input socket that could be utilised. A stereo system should supply clearer and louder sound reproduction so the voices are intelligible.
Voice frequencies are in the middle to low treble range which are reproduced well by small speakers. The frequency required for many consonants to be heard properly are about 2-4 kHz and those sounds are directional, which is why the sound bar is better as they face forward not back or sideways as the cabinet speakers do.
I think production might sometimes be the cause also. Some channels are softer than others so I always have remote handy to adjust volume. Would like choice to review the best TV’s for voice sound quality They have reviews regarding ,whizz bang ones, I’m interested in one that is average size and has better voice control. It would be hard to check this out at the store.
I think you are right. Also some programs are ‘muddy’ and increasing volume has little effect on the sound.
when testing TVs we include an assessment of voice sound quality which contributes to the Sound score. Many TVs have a sound setting designed to boost the vocals, and we refer to this feature as Speech emphasiser. It can be selected to filter those TV models that have it.
Unfortunately, a speech emphasiser is not going to be of much help if the program/movie producer has recorded or mixed the vocals poorly. At home, I use a home theatre system that has large front and centre speakers, yet still encounter material that makes voices very difficult to understand, and have come to the realisation that, at least sometimes, it is as the maker intended.
Oh the tired grey cells are preventing me from finding it but I recently read an article that explained that this is a trend in modern cinematography. Once lighting was bright and microphones hung over the head of the actors to ensure images and soundtracks were clear - if a little unreal. Now some directors are going for ‘realism’ which may mean in some situations the dialogue is hard to follow. Sadly we cannot ask ‘beg your pardon’ as we do in life.
I read a similar article in the Wall Street Journal, but it’s behind a paywall.
Doing a search online for “why you can’t understand voices on tv” returns a lot of links to pages saying many of the same things as the WSJ.
Hopefully, just like with the very dark episode of Game of Thrones, the message will keep getting back to producers that they are making content that is unwatchable/unintelligble.
I recall reading something similar. The idea was that movie makers are increasingly targeting cinemas and high-end sound systems; this leaves behind anyone with a ‘standard’ (affordable) home setup.
Not sure that this is a recent phenomenon though. I remember Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet making a mess of the voices as actors screamed into the wind, and thought at the time that the director had entirely missed the entire point of Shakespeare - the words.
Here’s one article that discusses a lot of the problems.
I have gone with subtitles for a long time now.
I watched one of the recent batman movies, the one with the nasty being Bale wearing a mask, and I could not understand a word he was saying. Then I read one of these articles that it was a deliberate choice made by the director to muffle the voice.
Our observation is that certain TV programs stand out as audible/easy to understand.
Try the ABC News or any of the News services as a point of reference. The ‘one and only famous acting school’ stalwart ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ is also a great point of reference for clear audio.
On the same TV’s and channel selections we certainly struggle to follow conversation, especially where there are a variety of speaking styles or accents. Increasing the volume is only helpful some of the time.
Much of the being able to understand is also affected by the music and sounds that often accompany the voices. The voice stream seems to fade behind the other audio noise in the program. Some software in the DACs Digital to Audio Converters) tries to enhance the voice stream over the other streams to produce clear voice audio, we have found it to be at best a marginal improvement…
Mr Z says he misses every second word, but I hear our TV OK. The sound improved when we moved to our new place and it stood in the corner, away from the walls. The sound seems to bounce off the walls, rather than be muffled by being flat against them.
As his hearing deteriorated we tried a bluetooth speaker, but our dumb TV needed a cord to connect it, which was then lying across the busiest part of the lounge floor. Sound was good, but disorientating because it came from the speaker next to him rather than from the TV (he refused to put it near the TV) and the TV speakers were muted. He won’t have a sound bar, and given the age of our small TV - we were one of the first areas to go digital - he wants to wait till it dies before upgrading.
Recently I noticed the sound quality has improved. Nothing changed our end, but where I could distinguish between birds etc on the TV (slightly distorted), I was now hearing sounds that appeared to be in the room, so sharp & clear. Either the signal is better or I have cleared the wax from my ears?
I totally agree with grahroll. The editing staff need a good talking to. The music often drowns out the voices. It’s definitely the program not the TV settings. The news and life TV are perfectly fine until prerecorded programs come on. I also get very annoyed with the different volume levels between TV channels.
I agree! Some TVs, provide various sound profiles. I’ve tried them. Yes they sound a bit different, but I couldn’t say that any are particularly clear. If you ask me, these so called smart TVs are pretty dumb. They are overly complicated and not smart at all.
One issue, unrelated to the speakers, is the difference in quality of certain stations.
I watch the Bolt Report on Sky from time to time. Bolt’s audio is particularly indistinct / muffled, but when he crosses to a panellist in a different studio the audio is crisper with better clarity.
Maybe the producers need to listen to their program at home and do something about it.
More recent Star Trek series < “I’m looking at you!” I get it Director, they are whispering, we see this, the actors, sound mixing does not actually have to subdue the dialog soooo much that we need to run up the volume to 10 for the scene - to then be bowled out of the room by weapons fire or an explosion…
I might agree. I try hard not to feel a lesser being by not investing in a home theatre. The 12 way adjustable home movie seats, drink and pull out tray holders, 97” 8K OLED flat screen with seperate surround sound system, etc, etc.
My simple take is there is one group of marketing genius out to convince all of us we’re deficient if we do not want that earth moving “ka-boom & ka-pow” full on experience.