Sound Advice: Tweak center channel to fix dialogue

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 3, 2013 - 1:12 PM

Q: We have great difficulty hearing the dialogue when watching television and movies. I have a substantial surround system, including an expensive receiver, a Blu-ray player and a six-speaker surround-sound setup with a large subwoofer. Can you suggest a product that will help?

A: Since you have a sound system with a receiver, you don’t need to add any products to fix your problem. Making some adjustments will suffice.

What you’re experiencing is a common issue, typically experienced by those without a separate sound system. If you don’t have a separate sound system, you approach the problem by turning on the TV’s dynamic range control, which helps somewhat. If you have a surround-sound system, you can not only turn on the receiver’s dynamic range control, but you also can increase the volume of the dialogue independently of everything else. This should solve your problem.

Go into the receiver’s speaker setup menu, and turn up the center channel volume in relation to the others. Do this by leaving all the speakers at the same settings except for the center, which you should bump up a bit from where it is now. Start with an increase of 3 decibels (dB), which is considered the smallest increase that is easily noticeable. Start there, and, if you need to, bump it up bit by bit until you can hear the dialogue clearly when listening at your normal volume level.

Flat speaker wire

Q: Some time back you wrote about a super-flat speaker wire that is about as thin as plastic tape. What is the name of it?

A: It’s Sewell Ghost Wire. Find out more at www.sewelldirect.com.

More on home recording

Reader Brian Pennington wrote to say, “Two thumbs up for the curiously unidentified HHD/DVD recorder from Wal-Mart.”

He’s right. I should have mentioned the specific model of home recorder available at Wal-Mart for those who are interested. The best choice has 1 terabyte of space, and the model number is MDR537H/f7. It sells for $278.

There are a couple of other Magnavox HDD/DVD recorders with smaller hard drives that sell for less, but Brian thinks the 1 TB version is the way to go. After reviewing the others, I agree.

Please note that “HDD” stands for “hard disk drive” and is not an abbreviation for “high definition.”

More than a few readers thought that since they saw HD in the mention, the player records in high definition. The website says “faithfully high-definition recording” and “1080p up-conversion,” which is kind of using weasel words to skirt the fact that it isn’t actually recording in true high definition.

Send questions to donlindich@gmail.com. Get more recommendations and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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