Dialog Emphasis -- Greatest Feature Ever On A TV Sound System?

Posted by Tom Hannaher , Friday, November 4, 2011
When we introduced our first single-cabinet surround sound system in 2004, we were surprised by how many customers bought it for one simple purpose: they wanted to hear the spoken voice on TV shows. They didn't care about surround sound effects, great bass or musical fidelity. They just wanted to be able to understand the news announcer -- or the actor on the sitcom or cop show.
So when we were designing our new ZVOX 555 and 580 sound bar systems we put a special focus on voice reproduction -- introducing a revolutionary "Dialog Emphasis" control. This "DE" setting is makes voices more clear and easy to understand than any other audio system we have ever heard. A 555 or 580 with the DE control on makes voices just "jump out at you."
DE works much the way a hearing aid works. It de-emphasizes non-vocal sounds, and emphasizes the frequency range where voices occur. The feature also makes the voices uniformly loud, without a lot of variation in volume from one person to another.
The folks in our Massachusetts call center (all trained ZVOX employees by the way, no script-reading mercenaries), tell me that DE is hugely popular. Sometimes it seems like it's all anybody wants to talk about. This is a feature people really, truly like.
We've been making a big deal about vocal clarity for years, because TV speakers keep getting worse and worse. So it's interesting to note that some TV manufacturers are now paying some attention to the issue. The latest TV we got has a "Clear Voice" audio setting that actually helps a little. But there's only so much you can do with little tiny speakers that are aimed at the floor (yes, they are pointed straight down -- heaven forbid that consumers be forced to look at a speaker grille!). The first step towards clear voice reproduction is a using high quality speakers and amplifiers. Step two -- like the electronic magic we work with our DE feature -- only works right when applied to good speakers.
If you've ever had trouble hearing dialog on a TV show, you should try one of our new home theater systems. DE is kind of like cell phones. Before you have it, you think it's an unnecessary and maybe just-plain-stupid luxury feature. But once you've lived with it for a week, it becomes a necessity.


Anonymous said...

I just ordered a ZVOX 550 for my parents to replace their current soundbar. The "DL" feature will be very useful.

The family room is "live" with hardwood floors, and a vaulted ceiling. (Not exactly good for audio.) They'll need all the help they can get!

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