How many times have you tried to watch an action movie at home, but it was hard to hear the dialogue because of all the background noise? For me, this happens a lot! My family loves action flicks, but I found them hard to enjoy until I discovered a unique work-around—noise-cancelling headphones. The noise-cancelling helps block the gunfire and car chases making the dialogue easier for me to hear. When combined with captions, I can usually follow along quite well.
I love my noise-cancelling headphones and even use them at movie theaters, despite the strange looks I sometimes get.
But now there is an even better solution. Dialogue Boost on Amazon’s Prime Video.
Dialogue Boost Enhances Speech Understanding
Amazon introduced Dialogue Boost in April on select programs and movies on Prime Video. It is expected to roll out to more shows over time. I finally had a chance to try it and it worked great! Dialogue Boost lets you set the volume level of the dialogue making speech easier to understand.
To activate Dialogue Boost, select the “Closed Caption or Subtitles” icon while playing a title. You can choose High or Medium boost in the Audio settings. Read more instructions here.
For me, both choices raised the clarity of the dialogue, but High Boost removed too much of the background ambiance for my taste. Luckily, it is easy to toggle back and forth to find the one that works best for you. The optimal setting may also vary by program.
For now, dialogue boost is only available when streaming on the web, on Amazon devices and on mobile devices. Because of this, it did not work on my Smart TV, but did work on my computer and iPhone.
If you try it and have feedback, please email [email protected] to share your comments.
High Demand for Feature Expected
While developed to provide better accessibility for people with hearing loss, I expect Dialogue Boost will be popular with everyone! Recent studies show that following dialogue on streaming platforms is challenging for many of us. For example, in a May 2022 survey of 1265 Americans by language learning app Preply, 55% of respondents said it is harder to hear dialogue in shows and movies than in the past. The reasons why are fascinating.
Eighty percent blamed background music for blocking the dialogue, while 44% said that recent productions are less well lit, making dialogue harder to discern. A further 35% said it was harder to understand dialogue because actors and TV presenters spoke faster than in the past. Read more about the survey in my post If Everyone Loves Captions, Why Are They So Misunderstood?
No matter the reason, this mainstream trend bodes well for expanded use of captioning, but also for increased demand for enhanced listening tools like Dialogue Boost. Let’s hope other streaming services will soon follow suit.
**a great explainer video describing why so many people have trouble following TV dialog today can be viewed below:
Shari Eberts is a passionate hearing health advocate and internationally recognized author and speaker on hearing loss issues. She is the founder of Living with Hearing Loss, a popular blog and online community for people with hearing loss, and an executive producer of We Hear You, an award-winning documentary about the hearing loss experience. Her book, Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss, (co-authored with Gael Hannan) is the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, she will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues. Connect with Shari: Blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.