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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Question: Does a proper 5.1 surround system with a dedicated center channel automatically make dialogue easier to hear? (or at least control?)


I have two family members (one about 62 the other about 80) who consistently complain about their ability to hear dialogue on newer DVD's. Neither has this problem with regular TV or cable, just DVD (and in the one case Blu-rays). Neither has a surround setup or AV amp. One is just using an 8-year old DVD player with RCA outputs to the a regular tube TV, the other is using an 2nd gen Blu-ray player with HDMI directly to a low end Vizio.


I'm guessing this might be a case of the center channel info getting pushed down to low into the two channel signal when it leaves the DVD/Blu-ray player. I have noticed my own surround system made dialog much easier to hear than my old 2-channel stereo system through which I used to run my home theater audio. I suspect that even an inexpensive HTIB might give more control over the dialog levels than what they have right now but are there other less pricey alternatives I should pursue first?
 

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What is probably happening is that due to the dynamic range of DVDs as opposed to broadcast TV they aren't able to hear softer dialog because the volume is set lower to not blast themselves during louder scenes. Broadcast TV is compressed a bit more than DVD so it doesn'r have this issue to as great an extent.


A HT system could help, but it will need to be properly calibrated. Engaging a dynamic reduction mode or a so-called "night" mode on any AVR they get would also help.


I would check into a lower cost HTiB.
 

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... or before you go to any expense, check the manuals/setup of their TV's and/or DVD players and see if they may have an audio compression mode to "even out" the dynamics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I just discovered my TV has something that lets you adjust "vocals" in relation to "ambience". I'm guessing it boosts the frequencies associates with the human voice a bit. So I'll see if the Vizio has such an adjustment. I'm pretty sure the old Tube TV will not.
 

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As suggested... check for "night/midnight mode", audio dynamic compression, or something similar in both TV's and DVD players.


If they have problems with dialog, under no circumstances use any audio features/effect that states "surround", "ambience" or any enhancement.


Actually... you may better off setting their TV's to "mono" instead of "stereo". They probably won't know the difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The 80 year old is not technology savvy so I definitely don;t want to complicate things by adding a 5.1 system. The 60 year old is reasonably comfortable with tech so a simple HTIB might be just the thing for him.
 
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