How to fix the LOUD and the quiet on my TV?
April 30, 2013 6:58 PM   Subscribe

When I watch a movie on my TV, the audio is very LOUD and the dialogue is often quiet. I have to turn up the volume--way up--to hear dialogue and then BAM! An action scene with lots of explosions and heavy music forces me to turn it way down. The constant switching drives me nuts!

I have a Toshiba Regza HDTV with (I am assuming) the built-in, basic stereo speakers. My player is an LG Blu Ray player. I don't think either are necessarily the culprit as I have friends with different TVs and players who have the same problem.

I don't have any speaker setup or audio equipment. Just the player and the TV.

This is really apparent when watching movies, whether they be Blu Rays, DVDs, or backed up movies on my computer's hard drive (that my player can handle as a media player as well). This soft/loud problem happens with all of them. Regular TV shows, oddly, don't really have a big issue with this--those volume levels are pretty even (not including commercials, but that's a whole other issue).

What advice have you, masters of AV products? I imagine it's the settings on both the TV and the player...what should I be doing?
posted by zardoz to Technology (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: See if your Toshiba has Voice Enhancement mode somewhere in the settings>sound menu and turn it on (it's usually OFF by default).
posted by jamaro at 7:06 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It could be that your TV is set up to drive a 5-speaker surround sound system when you only have 2 speakers. It would be like playing music recorded in stereo when you only have a left speaker: weird volume shifts that don't happen when you play glorious mono music. It may be possible to change some setting on the TV to put it in 2-speaker mode.

(ETA: my in-laws' TV had this problem.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:06 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Make sure your TV and DVD player are both set to stereo, not surround.
posted by empath at 7:25 PM on April 30, 2013

Many movies and TV shows are just mixed like this these days. Besides the above advice, check to see if there is some kind of sound leveler option in your TV or disc player. It’s a pretty common feature, but it can be under a variety of names.

You can make sure the bass is not turned up too loud. That can sometimes overwhelm the other frequencies and make the loud parts seem louder as well as muddy up the speech. Most of the speech information is in the midrange, but you can get some definition and intelligibility boost from the treble.
posted by bongo_x at 8:33 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

See if there is a night viewing mode on either your TV or player. What you are looking for is "compression" which makes the quiet louder and the loud quieter.
posted by bensherman at 9:02 PM on April 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not that this helps the sound, but you can turn on closed-captioning/subtitles. I find a miss a lot less dialogue with them on.
posted by ShooBoo at 9:21 PM on April 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

This happens to me, and I have a nice Onkyo A/V receiver and 3.1 speaker setup (left, right, center, sub). I send the appropriate surround mix to the speakers. I mention this to clarify that it's not necessarily an issue with the TV or with using the wrong audio output mode. As bongo_x notes, it's pretty much just the way movies are mixed on Blu-Ray/DVD (never a problem with broadcast channels), and you may need to enable a leveling mode on the TV or player.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:57 AM on May 1, 2013

It definitely sounds like your system is set-up for surround sound, when you only have two front stereo speakers. There's probably a menu somewhere to make the adjustment back to stereo. Check both the tv and the Blu-ray player's menus.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:07 AM on May 1, 2013

This is what is called the "dynamic range" for the audio. Bensherman was right, you'd need to attach an external audio compressor (or find a receiver with one, not sure if they have them) to squeeze the range. Dynamic range is a GOOD thing, but this is the downside to it. Without going out and getting a compressor you're just going to have to rely on that volume button.
posted by packfan88c at 12:55 PM on May 1, 2013

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