How to Fix Movies with Loud Action Music and Low Dialogue Volume

Have you ever been bugged by the fact that the dialogues in the movies are quiet, but the action scenes and sound effects are LOUD? We have all noticed this at one point in time. You pop in a DVD for your favorite movie, load it up in VLC to play it and as soon as there are some sound effects, they ring your ears. Well, there is a solution for fixing the loud action and quiet dialogue volume using VLC Media Player. We use the compressor tool under the audio effects and filters to fix this issue. We can also do it using the normalize volume option but the compressor’s better.

So, how do we fix the loud action and sound effects vs the soft-spoken low volume dialogue?

Here are the steps:

Using the Compressor

  • Go to Tools > Effects and Filters [CTRL + E].
  • Switch to the Compressor tab under Audio Effects.
  • Activate the Enable checkbox.
  • Drag the individual sliders to these settings.
    VLC Compressor Settings
  • Hit Close, when you are done.

What did we do?

  • Threshold Slider: Threshold determines when the compressor begins to act. The sound wave doesn’t go above this point. Our example has -23.8 dB. As the signal goes above -23.8 dB, the compression will happen.
  • Ratio: It is the ratio of the input to the output of the signal that crosses the threshold. Our example shows a high 20:1 ratio. That means, for every 20 dB over the threshold, the compressor will output 1db of that signal. That’s a lot of compressions. 1:1 means no compression.
  • Attack and Release: These two are used to determine the speed of the compression. When the signal reaches the threshold, the attack will dictate how fast it will start. The release is when it goes back to the original tone after the compression ends.
  • Makeup Gain: Sliding this will make the quiet parts (those with the dialogues) louder.

Note: The settings might depend from movie to movie and scene to scene. But remember that the makeup gain slider is moved so that you can hear the quiet parts and ratio and threshold slider will affect the action parts with heavy sound effects. Play with these settings a little more to get the best output.

22 thoughts to “How to Fix Movies with Loud Action Music and Low Dialogue Volume”

  1. nope. The dialogue and the high part of the music seem to be tied together; the music still blares and I can’t hear the dialogue. Thanks for the suggestion, but do you have any other ideas?

  2. This really helps. But only problem is it cut out bass from the track. Is there a trick for this issue

  3. Seriously helpful 🙏 Idk how movies get it off the editing rooms like that but every f-ing one I can’t hear the dialogue and the explosions make me deaf. This is a simple, exact same fix that worked. I sound like I’m hired for an infomercial.
    Thanks for the greatest fix since bread came sliced in a plastic sleeve

    1. The audio we listen to most of the time is 5.1 audio that has been compressed to stereo. The aggressive compression of the one center channel dealing with dialogues over the 4 other environmental sound is what leads to the dialogue coming to us at a lower volume when watching in a typical setup, whether it is a TV, laptop or phone.

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