TV background music overpowers the speaker. Why do they do this?

Posted by raykraemer @raykraemer, Oct 1 8:54am

So often on a TV show or commercial they play background music to sensationalize what the speaker is saying which instead overshadows what the speaker is saying. An instance is the 5:30 pm NBC news show headlines. As they announce the headlines the sensationalizing music is so loud you can't hear what the headlines are. This also happens on TV shows, movies where they play such loud sensationalizing music in the background that it blocks out what the speakers are saying; the background music becomes foreground music. Anyone else notice this?

Perhaps it's part of the belief that everyone now has a max of 8 seconds that they're able or willing to think about anything. That's why we're "treated" to a series of 30-second commercials–some of them repeated during the same break–instead of a couple of longer ones. Has the entire population been "dumbed down"? Sometimes decisions made by those in charge (locally and nationally) make me wonder!

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Several years ago legislation was considered that would require commercials to remain at the same decibel level as everything else. In fact, I think that passed. It was not enforced. It's as bad now as it was then. I guess that people with typical (as in normal) hearing adjust to that and think it's fine. Those of us with hearing loss find it overwhelming. My husband tends to start a conversation with me during commercial time. He also like to have control of the remote control; typical male. I've worked hard to teach him that if he wants to say something to me he needs to mute the TV. That simple mute button can save a marriage! Captions also help a lot. I don't attend a lot of movies in theaters, but when I do I'm always amazed at the high volume experienced there. We all know that excess noise, over 85 decibels is inclined to cause hearing loss over time. Far too little is done to educate the public on that issue. Music, mechanics, motors, and even TV are factors. And, the more our hearing deteriorates, the more we find excess noise troubling.

Liked by barbb, lucky1038

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@julieo4

Several years ago legislation was considered that would require commercials to remain at the same decibel level as everything else. In fact, I think that passed. It was not enforced. It's as bad now as it was then. I guess that people with typical (as in normal) hearing adjust to that and think it's fine. Those of us with hearing loss find it overwhelming. My husband tends to start a conversation with me during commercial time. He also like to have control of the remote control; typical male. I've worked hard to teach him that if he wants to say something to me he needs to mute the TV. That simple mute button can save a marriage! Captions also help a lot. I don't attend a lot of movies in theaters, but when I do I'm always amazed at the high volume experienced there. We all know that excess noise, over 85 decibels is inclined to cause hearing loss over time. Far too little is done to educate the public on that issue. Music, mechanics, motors, and even TV are factors. And, the more our hearing deteriorates, the more we find excess noise troubling.

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@julieo4 Are you saying that movie theaters tend to have a decibel level higher than 85???

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Download a decibel meter app on your cell phone. Next time you attend a movie see what it registers. I do think some background music is over 85 dB. That is true with the previews and commercials you see before the movie begins too.

Liked by lucky1038

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Absolutely movie theaters can be too loud. Besides the music there are the sound effects (sirens, motors racing and tires squealing, shooting, explosions, screaming, etc.) and then someone in the movie whispers. We're expected to hear that?????

Liked by lucky1038

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@barbb

@julieo4 Are you saying that movie theaters tend to have a decibel level higher than 85???

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I really wasn't talking about loudness in movie theaters, although, they do play movies excessively loud at times. What I was referring to was the background noise that the TV news for instance plays while they are giving the headlines of what we're going to see. That background noise or music they play to sensationalize the headlines all but obliterates the headlines themselves. Even if you are not hearing challenged, it would be difficult to hear the headlines. Also in movies, they so often do the same thing with sensationalizing scenes with sound that overpowers the dialogue. I am surprised that more people, hearing challenged people and those who are, are not complaining about this. At home I use captions all the time. At a theater I ask for a caption machine that I take to my seat with me.

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Lots of things are too loud, especially when we have hearing loss. People think we can't hear because of volume so they shout at us thinking that will help. It doesn't. Most of us with hearing loss become quite sensitive to extreme volume. Tell us more about the 'caption machine' you use at movies. There are a few different devices available but very few people know they exist. Please share that with us.

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@raykraemer

I really wasn't talking about loudness in movie theaters, although, they do play movies excessively loud at times. What I was referring to was the background noise that the TV news for instance plays while they are giving the headlines of what we're going to see. That background noise or music they play to sensationalize the headlines all but obliterates the headlines themselves. Even if you are not hearing challenged, it would be difficult to hear the headlines. Also in movies, they so often do the same thing with sensationalizing scenes with sound that overpowers the dialogue. I am surprised that more people, hearing challenged people and those who are, are not complaining about this. At home I use captions all the time. At a theater I ask for a caption machine that I take to my seat with me.

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@raykraemer, I know exactly what you are talking about. It is a pet peeve of my husband's. He gets quite irate when background noise obliteriertes dialogue, sometimes it's music, but often times it's loud ambient background noise. We find this increasingly common in high drama movies. The more suspenseful the scene, the more the actors whisper and the background sounds increase. Infuriating. Thank goodness for closed captioning.

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I do not go to movies, at the theaters, mainly for this reason. Interestingly though, I use closed caption on my TV's and my family uses it also (although they have excellent hearing) to follow dialogue that background sounds distort!

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The caption apparatus I refer to is at a theater where they have recliner seats, and the apparatus fits or mounts to the cup holder with a flexible cable so you can actually have the caption device positioned directly in front of your face with it positioned just below your view of the screen. It's really a wonderful thing for me. Speaking of captions, there is the situation on the TV news or any live show where the captions lag so far behind the actual spoken words. I look for the day when the captions can keep up with the spoken word on live shows. Btw, the captioning is done by court reporters, of which I was a court reporter for my entire working career.

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@raykraemer

The caption apparatus I refer to is at a theater where they have recliner seats, and the apparatus fits or mounts to the cup holder with a flexible cable so you can actually have the caption device positioned directly in front of your face with it positioned just below your view of the screen. It's really a wonderful thing for me. Speaking of captions, there is the situation on the TV news or any live show where the captions lag so far behind the actual spoken words. I look for the day when the captions can keep up with the spoken word on live shows. Btw, the captioning is done by court reporters, of which I was a court reporter for my entire working career.

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That movie caption system is called Captiview. I agree, it works great. Sony has also created some 'glasses' that provide captions. I've only tried them at a booth at an HLAA convention, but they worked quite well. We have captioning for our HLAA Chapter meetings that is provided by a court reporter who primarily does Computer Assisted Realtime Tranlation (CART). It's verbatim. She does an excellent job. How interesting that court reporting was your profession….then you definitely know what a specialized skill that is! We wish that more court reporters would get certified to provide CART. It is considered a reasonable accommodation by the Americans with Disabilities Act. But, it is difficult to find a provider. HLAA has been using court reporters at its national conventions since the early 90s. Has been fun to watch the progression. Hey, I would not even attend a movie that didn't provide the Captiview device. 🙂

Liked by lucky1038

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Hi Ray – We have been struggling with the same issue here. It's really disconcerting for me, as an almost-normal hearing person to try to pick out the dialogue. My husband misses much of the speaking and I have to repeat. We are trying something new – there are speakers which allow you to raise the dialogue decibel level while muting the background sound. It is supposed to have a feature that levels the volume so commercials and promos are do not increase in volume too.
Ours should arrive tomorrow, so after we set up and try it, I'll report back on how it works.
Sue

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@julieo4

Several years ago legislation was considered that would require commercials to remain at the same decibel level as everything else. In fact, I think that passed. It was not enforced. It's as bad now as it was then. I guess that people with typical (as in normal) hearing adjust to that and think it's fine. Those of us with hearing loss find it overwhelming. My husband tends to start a conversation with me during commercial time. He also like to have control of the remote control; typical male. I've worked hard to teach him that if he wants to say something to me he needs to mute the TV. That simple mute button can save a marriage! Captions also help a lot. I don't attend a lot of movies in theaters, but when I do I'm always amazed at the high volume experienced there. We all know that excess noise, over 85 decibels is inclined to cause hearing loss over time. Far too little is done to educate the public on that issue. Music, mechanics, motors, and even TV are factors. And, the more our hearing deteriorates, the more we find excess noise troubling.

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Julie – I get it! "That simple mute button can save a marriage!" The volume is raised so he can hear – to the point I often put in my earphones just to mute it. And when I ask "Will you please mute the TV?" the reply is "Never mind!" See my reply to Ray – we are going to try a dialogue clarity enhancer…
Sue

Liked by lucky1038

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@sueinmn

Hi Ray – We have been struggling with the same issue here. It's really disconcerting for me, as an almost-normal hearing person to try to pick out the dialogue. My husband misses much of the speaking and I have to repeat. We are trying something new – there are speakers which allow you to raise the dialogue decibel level while muting the background sound. It is supposed to have a feature that levels the volume so commercials and promos are do not increase in volume too.
Ours should arrive tomorrow, so after we set up and try it, I'll report back on how it works.
Sue

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I'll be interested to hear more about those speakers you ordered. What are they called? Where did you get them? One of the best ways to make home TV accessible is to install a hearing loop in the TV room. It sends sound from the TV directly to a person's hearing aids IF those hearing aids have telecoils. Loop systems are amazing. Many performing arts centers have installed hearing loops. All you do is push the button on your telecoil equipped hearing aids and the sound comes directly to you. It's like having binoculars for your ears! In 2018 the national HLAA convention was held in MInneapolis. We attended a musical at the Guthrie Theater. They had installed a hearing loop in the theater. It was incredible. It is so frustrating that this communication access accommodation isn't standard. Other systems work too, including FM and Infrared, but it requires picking up a receiver and using either a headset or personal connector. Much easier to just push a button on a hearing aid!

Liked by lucky1038

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@julieo4

I'll be interested to hear more about those speakers you ordered. What are they called? Where did you get them? One of the best ways to make home TV accessible is to install a hearing loop in the TV room. It sends sound from the TV directly to a person's hearing aids IF those hearing aids have telecoils. Loop systems are amazing. Many performing arts centers have installed hearing loops. All you do is push the button on your telecoil equipped hearing aids and the sound comes directly to you. It's like having binoculars for your ears! In 2018 the national HLAA convention was held in MInneapolis. We attended a musical at the Guthrie Theater. They had installed a hearing loop in the theater. It was incredible. It is so frustrating that this communication access accommodation isn't standard. Other systems work too, including FM and Infrared, but it requires picking up a receiver and using either a headset or personal connector. Much easier to just push a button on a hearing aid!

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I'm a natural-born sceptic, so I am waiting to report until we have tried the speakers. The hearing loop idea is a great one, except I think it will be helpful to me to have the discriminating speakers too, and I am not "yet" ready for aids according to my audiologist, whom I trust. I'm looking forward to trying the speaker, as the high volume of commercials when the TV is turned up is eventually going to make me throw something at it and break it!
Sue

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