Why You Cannot Understand Movie Dialog Without Subtitles

January 17, 2023

Watching shows, especially movies at home, can be a frustrating experience these days. For many shows I find myself turning up the volume to understand the dialog. Then an action scene or commercial will nearly blow out my speakers with an aggressive sound level. I have often found myself turning the volume up and down throughout a show.

Why It Matters

Besides annoying the neighbor when the sound blows out, it is not fun to watch a show without understanding the dialogue. When you encounter lots of movies or shows that do this, you might start to wonder: is it me? Well the answer is, it’s not you, it’s Hollywood.

My Tricks for Dealing with Dialogue

  • Use a sound bar. Besides separating out the dialog channel of the audio for improved clarity, many have special volume balance and voice boost modes.
  • Use headphones. With spatial audio I find my AirPods Pro do a great job of making audio more clear.
  • Turn on Closed Captions. They look annoying but they do work.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.