ZVOX Blog

Movies So Loud, You Can't Hear Them!

Posted by Dave Pettibone , Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Ever since I was a kid, my family has bonded over watching, re-watching, quoting and re-quoting many of our favorite movies. We’ve seen Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, and Forrest Gump so many times that our nightly dinner conversations or summertime car trips rarely occured without me or my Dad temporarily becoming “Forrest, Forrest Gu-ump”, or perhaps Vizzini from The Princess Bride (“Inconceivable!”) for an interjection of a classic one-liner.  If your family is like mine, then this Holiday season will have you heading to the theater with the hopes of seeing a new flick that could join the ranks of your family’s favorite quotable movies.

Unfortunately, the prevailing trend in Hollywood films may render this tougher than ever as directors and sound mixers routinely relegate dialog clarity to the back seat in favor of giving center stage to thunderous special effects and hyper-realistic environmental ambience (Think: action dream scenes in Inception and a crowded cocktail party scene in The Social Network, respectively).  In either case, the sound mix makes it incredibly difficult to catch every word, and could force you and your family to continue to quote Forrest Gump for another two decades (ok, maybe that’s just my family…)

A quick Google search for the phrase “movies too loud” reveals that this problem is not imaginary and has been creeping steadily for at least a decade. A curious reader could easily find a dozen or so articles, all intending to expose bad Hollywood sound mixes that seem to favor a director’s artistic vision of power and emotion over the audience’s listening experience.  Reportedly, audiences for Christopher Nolan’s new space epic Interstellar were left buzzing from the sheer onslaught of sonic power while simultaneously whispering to their neighbor, “What did they just say??”  Jeff Baker from OregonLive.com reports that, according to Nolan, the sound is “mixed just the way he wants it.”  If that’s true, and we still can’t hear the movie’s dialog in the very environment for which the soundtrack was designed, is there any hope for clear dialog when Interstellar makes it to BluRay in our living room?

Luckily, there is hope! Our SoundBase systems are equipped with AccuVoice™ dialog clarity technology, a feature that quiets the background noise and boosts the vocals and dialog so you can actually hear what is being said. It does wonders for people who suffer from hearing loss, but also comes in handy when you are watching movies with poorly-mixed audio soundtracks.

If you find yourself on the couch with family this holiday season complaining that Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean fame sounds like he’s truly three sheets to the wind, maybe there should be a ZVOX system under the family Christmas tree this year.​

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