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Taming Dynamic Range in Soundtracks

by August 30, 2004

Q: I have noticed when I have played DVD movies that when the actors are talking that I can barely hear them. The background music and effects come through good but the voices do not. Is there a setting on my DVD or receiver that I need to set? I have an older Panasonic DVD , Model "DVD-A310/ca and A new Denon Surround Receiver, Model AVR-2802/982. Can you help?

A: I assume your problem occurs mostly when listening to movies at lower volume levels. What you are hearing is a large dynamic range that makes the loud scenes sound much louder than quite vocal passages. There are several things you can do to minimize this effect:

  1. Make sure speaker levels are properly calibrated. Refer to the following articles for further elaboration:
  2. Turn on dynamic compression (via your DVD player or Receiver) when listening to movies at low volume levels. This will reduce the dynamics of the sound allowing the loud passages and quite passages to play at similar levels.
  3. Boost the center channel a few dB. This may help for the dialog, but you may find the loud scenes to overbearing at times.

Enjoy the music!


About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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