Much has been written about apparent problems with sound levels and dialogue on modern shows including Doctor Who. So, what is the best way to enjoy TV shows recorded with multi-layered soundtracks comprising dialogue, special effects, and music?
Note: if you have a genuine hearing issue, this article isn’t aimed at you.
How to Listen, Watch, and Enjoy Your Favourite TV Shows
Whether it’s a general difficulty distinguishing voices from the incidental music and audio FX, or something more visual (surprise BBC continuity or Graham Norton) we think the time has now come to attempt to address a creeping malaise affecting television for the past 20 years that simply refuses to go away.
Let’s face facts: this isn’t about accents. Jodie Whittaker is from Yorkshire; Peter Capaldi from Scotland. They’ve both been working in the industry long enough to know that if dialogue isn’t satisfactorily presented, it’s time to go back to college.
So, what can we do? What will make the Doctor’s delivery more listenable, and following the latest adventure much easier? Here’s a list of things that might help you to enjoy your favourite TV shows tonight.
1. Invoke The Silence
There is no reason to speak when Doctor Who is on. Questions? Ask them later, preferably online.
2. Close the curtains
Doctor Who has always been better in the dark, even “comedy” episodes like Robot of Sherwood benefit from this. Cut all light from your viewing area.
3. Turn the volume up
This is the first of several hardware-related tips. Make sure Doctor Who is at an appreciable volume. If you’re annoyed that you have to change the volume on your TV, don’t be – it’s adjustable for a reason.
4. Check your audio settings
Problems hearing the TV correctly might not be down to the broadcast show, but rather the sound reproduction on your TV or home theatre system. Make sure you have everything set up correctly. You may need to read the manual, check online for your TV model or generally fiddle around with the settings to get a result here.
5. Use headphones
Whether you’re watching on a computer or tablet or on your TV, if headphones are an option, use them. The depth of sound will be a revelation, and all channels should be clear (and easier to adjust correctly if they’re not).
6. Switch off Twitter and Facebook
To most of us, this might be dizzyingly obvious, but to the rest of you: if you’re watching Doctor Who, then bloody well watch it instead of tapping away on your smartphone/tablet/laptop/desktop/Smart TV etc.
Whinging about not being able to follow the show on your chosen social networks because you’re not paying attention seems self-defeating.
Don’t do that.
(With thanks to mrjohnm and DonnaM)