Here’s Why You Can’t Hear Dialogue Clearly in Movies Anymore

There’s nothing quite like a good movie to help you unwind at the end of the day, but many are complaining that they can’t really hear the dialogue in films and television all that clearly anymore. It might seem like a bug, but it turns out that it might actually be a feature with all things having been considered and taken into account!

Vox recently put out an explainer that sheds some light onto this auditory phenomenon. With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that a lot of filmmakers are leaning into inaudible dialogue, and it’s not for the reason that you might think.

For one thing, modern technology has created microphones that detect a wider range of frequencies. That gives actors the ability to go for a more naturalistic approach than might have been the case otherwise instead of having to acquire a specific vocal register to get picked up by the mics.

What’s more many filmmakers actually like that their dialogue is this natural. After all, we don’t speak with a perfect cadence in the real world, so why should movies offer anything different?

Christopher Nolan has often spoken about how his audio style is intentional. He wants to give his actors the space to perform however they like, and using subtitles can make up for the relative difficulty that you might experience in picking up the dialogue.

Another factor that might be at play here is the kind of device you are watching the content on. Movies are mixed for a movie theatre, so if you are trying to watch on a smartphone you might not end up hearing the full range of sound that was intended.

Going to the theatre instead can make for a better experience because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up allowing you to take advantage of the superior audio output that they can provide. Movies are usually mixed for Dolby Atmos, and it is pretty unlikely that you’d have anything of that sort at home!

Finally, you might be wondering why audio mixers for film and television don’t just turn the levels up. Well, one thing that might stop them is that you can only make audio so loud before it begins to clip and distort.

What’s more, there are other aspects to the audio mix that need to be taken into account as well. If there is an explosion of some kind coming up, the mixer will need to keep the dialogue at a specific volume setting otherwise the loud noise will lose its punch.

All of this seems to explain why you might be having a hard time listening to the dialogue in your favorite video content. You’re not alone in experiencing this either. According to a poll conducted by Vox, over half of its subscribers tend to use subtitles even if they aren’t hard of hearing!

If you want to avoid subtitles, you might want to consider going to the theatre. They can make the dialogue clear without making the other noises lose their specific place in the mix.

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