Found yourself struggling to understand a person speaking on TV? You’re not alone. Inaudible dialogue has become a growing issue for many viewers in recent years.
Happy Valley and Jamaica Inn were both victims, and more recently similar complaints have been aimed at Taboo and SS-GB. “10 mins into SS-GB and had to resort to subtitles,” one frustrated viewer vented.
But with 80 years of television experience under the BBC’s belt alone, surely the broadcasters aren’t to blame?
Some experts actually believe that the problem may actually reside in your TV sets, not poor audio from broadcasters nor the actors.
“The sound that comes out of most flatscreens is appalling,” sound recordist Wolf Hall told The Guardian.
“What is recorded by myself and my colleagues is always an absolutely precise representation of what happens on the set, so it ain’t us.”
Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright has previously shared similar sentiments and saying that audio quality for the series was “absolutely fine” during editing.
“I don’t think it’s rubbish that people can’t hear it, I think it is about your equipment rather than what we do. If you’ve got a big flat-screen TV and put it up against a wall, it muffles the sound.”
Space for adequate speakers is one of the downsides to flat screen TVs. Mounting your TV on bumpy walls or near curtains will restrict the distance soundwaves travel - smoother walls will help it bounce.
How I do to improve my TV’s audio?
The best way to improve the audio quality and hopefully put an end to mumbling dialogue would be to invest in a sound bar.
Why? Sound bars drivers face you, meaning the soundwaves will go in your direction.
You can also get them in varying sizes to suit the amount of space you have.
Prices also vary drastically – you could spend a couple of hundred on a sound bar such as the Sony HT-CT180 Sound Bar with Wireless Subwoofer (£139 from Amazon), all the way up to thousands, such as Samsung’s HW-K950 5.1 Wireless Sound Bar (£1299 at Currys).
Image copyright: BBC/Laurie Sparham