Why do I have to turn my DVD player volume way up?

Please forgive me if this is the kind of question an A/V idiot asks…

Is it normal for the sound difference between a DVR and a DVD player to be so vast? I’ve got them both connected to my TV through an HDMI switch, but I need my volume at around 60 when I’m watching movies (vs. 25ish when I’m watching TV).

On top of that, the sound is poorly equalized, or something; even at that volume the dialogue is hard to make out and sometimes drowned out by the music/sound effects.

Where does the problem lie, in the DVD player? Should I go poking around my TV for some kind of audio adjustment settings?

Bumping this because I have the same problem and would like to know what the issue is and how to rectify it.


Sounds like two separate issues. I don’t know why the overall level of the DVDs would be way lower than TV. It’s normally a bit lower, but not hugely (I think it’s usually around a -10db difference). Some DVD players do have volume adjustments, but I’d be surprised if that applies to HDMI outputs. Your TV may also have a per-input volume offset, but none of mine do, so I’m not sure.

The other issue is really dynamic range. In a well made DVD, just like a movie in the theater, there’s a lot of dynamic range. When you watch a movie in the theater, explosions really are much louder than dialog, which is more realistic. A good DVD will replicate that. However, as you’ve noticed, it can be kind of a pain for day to day viewing at home. Most decent A/V receivers have features to help compress the dynamic range and alleviate the problem (e.g. “night mode” or “dynamic volume”). I don’t know if any TVs have that, though. I’d be a little surprised. The audio processing on most TVs is pretty basic.

FWIW, most receivers I’ve seen also do have per-input audio level adjustments. So if you wanted to add a receiver to your setup, you could probably fix both problems pretty easily (but I certainly understand why you may not want to do that).

Same issue as discussed in this thread?

That was my first thought.

If your DVD player is sending a 5.1 audio signal to a stereo speaker setup, you may lose the dialog as the centre speaker, which normally handles dialog, doesn’t exist. A good receiver will automatically distribute the signal based on your actual speaker setup but your TV may not be clever enough to do that. The solution is to change the DVD audio settings to stereo (maybe listed as 2.0 or 2.1.) This can often be done both in the menu of the DVD movie itself and sometimes the remote has a specific button to cycle through the different audio streams.

The other issue of dynamic range has been neatly covered by sharding. A compressed dynamic range is the reason that many advertisements sound louder than the TV show they’re interrupting.