Netflix/Hulu low dialog audio loud music/explosions
I've been dealing with this for years with no solutions on Windows XP and 7, complete denial from Netflix customer support, and workarounds which caused problems.
When I watch Netflix or Hulu, everything but the dialog sounds adequate; the dialog is too quiet, if I turn up the volume, now music and explosions are way too loud and the dialog is still hard to hear, so I have to turn it back down and use sub-titles. This problem doesn't happen on YouTube, or Vimeo, or DailyMotion, or normal antenna TV, or DVD. It is just Netflix and Hulu.
I've read that the way they encode/compress/stream their video, the center channel is used for dialog, and because I'm on a 2-channel speaker (output from PC is also 2-channel and computer is configured for two-channel), the dialog is muffled/quiet, and I'm supposed to use 5.1-channel. Well, I have zero other reason to use 5.1-channel, they'd all just sit in a row on the TV shelf next to each other anyways, serving zero other purpose. Also it could cost me hundreds of dollars that I don't have right now to get a system as good or better than the one I have. This same problem happens over headphones.
Is Netflix and Hulu doing it wrong or am I? I'm on Windows 7 and I've turned on Enhanced Audio in settings that seems to fix the dialog issue, but it causes my music volume to jump up and down and sound really bad; it will sound normal, a loud part comes, and then it sounds like someone literally turns down the volume, then a quiet part comes, and it sounds like someone turns up the volume again. It's not a good experience.
Can someone offer any info/advice? I haven't configured my computer in any unusual way other than the enhanced audio adjustment, which I'd prefer to leave disabled.