Raise your hand if you’ve found yourself recently rewinding your movie or episode back 10 seconds over and over again to pick up a line of dialogue you simply can’t make out, only to give in and finally turn on the dang closed captions. It’s a topic that’s been Googled and explained to death, and Amazon is finally doing something about it.
Introducing: Dialogue Boost, a new function from Amazon that lets you actually understand what’s being said on its shows. The AI-powered feature will let you increase the volume of dialogue relative to background music and effects, and you can customize it to your personal preference, all to create a “more comfortable and accessibly viewing experience.”
Amazon says Dialogue Boost was designed with the hard-of-hearing audience in mind to make their programming more accessible (open captions might be preferable). But this has been a complaint for many audiences in the digital era and should help address a more pervasive problem. For instance, say you’re watching “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.” You presumably now won’t be in a position where you’ve cranked the volume to hear what John Krasinski is saying, only for your eardrums to be blown out when there’s a sudden loud explosion. And we’re hoping this doesn’t become an issue like “Motion Smoothing” on your TV where filmmakers plead with you to watch their movie “the way it was intended to be seen.”
For now, the feature is only available on a handful of Amazon Originals, including “Jack Ryan,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Harlem,” and movies “The Big Sick,” “Being the Ricardos,” and “Beautiful Boy.” Others will be added later this year.
“At Prime Video, we are committed to building an inclusive, equitable, and enjoyable streaming experience for all our customers,” said Raf Soltanovich, VP of Technology at Prime Video and Amazon Studios. “Our library of captioned and audio described content continues to grow, and by leveraging our technological capabilities to create industry-first innovations like Dialogue Boost, we are taking another step to create a more accessible streaming experience.”
According to a blog post announcing the news, Dialogue Boost works by analyzing the original audio in a movie or series and identifying points where dialogue may be hard to hear above background music and effects, at which point speech patterns are isolated and audio is enhanced to make the dialogue clearer. The AI targets spoken dialogue rather than a typical speaker or home theater set up that only amplifies the center channel of audio. It’s something that exists on high-end theater set-ups and certain smart TVs, but Amazon is the first streamer to roll out such a feature.
You can find it and adjust it during playback within the audio and subtitles drop down menu and can pick between “Medium” and “High” settings.
Now if only Amazon can address the other trend of muddy, dark looking pictures.