It’s a complaint we’ve all heard by now and maybe one you’ve vented about firsthand: voices and conversations are often too difficult to understand when watching TV. I know many people who routinely enable closed captioning — even if they’re not hard of hearing — to be sure they don’t miss anything. Many soundbars and some TVs have added various speech enhancement modes to overcome this, but if you’re stuck with shoddy built-in TV speakers, unintelligible conversation can become very aggravating.
With Prime Video, Amazon has decided to do something about this dilemma at the software level. Today, the company is introducing a new Dialogue Boost mode that can be toggled on from any device that offers the streaming service. “Dialogue Boost lets you increase the volume of dialogue relative to background music and effects, creating a more comfortable and accessible viewing experience that cannot be found on any other global streaming service,” Amazon wrote in a blog post detailing the new feature.
Dialogue Boost is rolling out globally beginning today for select English language Amazon originals.
Rather than apply voice enhancements across an entire movie or TV show, Dialogue Boost uses artificial intelligence to identify the specific moments in content where it might be challenging to make out what’s being said. “Then, speech patterns are isolated and audio is enhanced to make the dialogue clearer,” the blog post reads. “This AI-based approach delivers a targeted enhancement to portions of spoken dialogue, instead of a general amplification at the center channel in a home theater system.”
You can choose between two options (medium and high) for the intensity of Dialogue Boost. These settings will appear on the audio / subtitles drop-down menu when watching content, and detail pages for movies and TV shows will be updated to show whether they support Dialogue Boost.
And it’s that latter bit where we run into the downside of Dialogue Boost: availability is rather limited at launch. “Customers can now access Dialogue Boost on select Amazon Originals including Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Harlem, as well as movies including The Big Sick, Beautiful Boy, and Being the Ricardos,” Amazon said in its blog post. The feature will expand to more titles this year, so hopefully it’ll proliferate across a fair selection of Prime Video’s streaming catalog by the end of 2023.
I haven’t gotten a chance to test out Dialogue Boost yet, but I’m eager to experience what difference the new feature makes. If it pulls off its purpose, maybe other streamers will follow Amazon’s lead.