How-To Geek

Increase Dialogue Volume Without Blowing Your Neighbors Away

We’ve all been there: you’re watching a movie, you can’t hear what the actors are saying, so you crank up the volume. Moments later, the bombs go off. Work around the dialogue/action disparity with a simple speaker hack.

Unpluggd, a home-centric technology blog, shares a really simple hack that makes a big difference. When movie audio is mixed for DVD/Bluray playback the dialogue is almost always piped through the center channel.

By doing one of two things (or both) you can increase your ability to hear the dialogue without risking the next fight scene in the movie shaking your neighbors (or kids) out of bed. First, you can temporarily move the center channel closer to you. Second, you can–if your system allows for channel-by-channel tweaking–set the overall sound at an lower volume and then increase the center channel so you can hear the actors better.

For more information, including a calculator to help you figure out just how near or far you should place the center channel to get the sound boost you desire, hit up the link below.

Maximizing Dialogue Without Maxing Out the Volume [Unpluggd]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/5/11

Comments (6)

  1. Марфа


  2. GBot

    Don’t forget dynamic range compression; many receivers have a setting for it, just check your user manual.

  3. MrAsk

    Heck mates, Why don’t you place A Tweet button???

  4. letsrock

    Thanks! I never thought of either of those suggestions, I just set my HT audio system up, let it run it’s built-in tests for where I had the speakers placed and took it as best.

  5. Enzer Milliard

    This is only really effective on a 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1 surround sound setup. So my question would be what would be the most effective way of doing this without a center speaker? Every speaker system of 4.1 and below that I’ve seen has no box for it, so would there be a separate device one could buy to solve the same issue on a less speakerful system?

  6. John q

    Seriously?!? Move the speaker closer to you and increase the volume of the center channel? I was hoping to read something a little more scientific.

    Utilize dynamic range compression on your receiver.

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