Week 17, 2016: Background sound drowns out voices


Sound Advice

By Don Lindich

Week 17, 2016

Q> In your review of the new ZVOX soundbars you used the statement, “matched perfectly to the source.” Does this mean the sound and the lips match? Does this improve the problem with the background music drowning out the speaking, which seems to be so prevalent when we watch programs/movies?

-Douglas M., Rodeo, CA

A.  The lips and the voices always matched no matter what I listened to, but that is not what I meant. What I meant by that statement is when used as a home theater sound system, the soundbar did a good job reproducing the experience of a movie. When watching television, it did a good job reproducing TV shows and making them easy to understand. When used to play music, it reproduced the music accurately. Though this may seem a given for any decent speaker or soundbar, in reality it is not. When it comes to home audio, some speakers are said to be “good rock music speakers” or “good classical music speakers.” The very best speakers, such as the Ohm Acoustics and GoldenEar Technology speakers I favor, sound fantastic with any kind of music and reproduce it accurately, often creating the illusion of the performers actually being in the room with you.

Many home theater speaker systems that use tiny speakers do a decent job of reproducing a movie soundtrack, but when you play music the music sounds thing because the speakers can’t move much air, and there is a gap between the sounds made by the small speakers and the sounds made by the subwoofer. That the ZVOX soundbar worked well with everything I used it with is a testament to its good design and excellent quality.

Whether you have a soundbar or not you can raise the volume of the voices in relation to the soundtrack. Go into your TV, cable box or disc player audio menu and look for the dynamic range control. It is sometimes also called, “Night Mode” or “DRC.” It may not completely solve the problem, but it will definitely help. I explain the poor TV sound problem in more detail on my website. http://tinyurl.com/poortvsound