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Volume levels and dialog

posted by serializer on - last edited - Viewed by 158 users

So, I seem to have this problem with each new episode. Basically, I *love* Jared's music, but the default settings of the game have background music on around volume level 1, whereas the dialog is on about volume level 10 (I can't remember how much it goes up to).

The net result is that, if I turn my speakers up so the music is as loud as it deserves to be, then the dialog is just way *way* too loud.

So I usually spend the first 10-20 minutes of each episode regularly going back to the menu to tweak the volume settings trying to strike a balance between music volume and actually being able to hear and understand the dialog!

Of course I could just switch on subtitles - but for me, that kind of spoils the immersiveness of the game, and I always find myself just staring at the text instead of watching the characters (I know quite a lot of my friends also get this, for instance with movie subtitles).

Basically it seems to me there's something really wrong with the volume levels if they have to be set to such extremes to properly hear what the characters are saying.

There are a could of ways to improve this:

1. Put all dialog through audio compression (I don't mean like MPEG compression, I mean proper studio compression as I'm sure many will know, this is an audio technique used for balancing out an audio track so it's at a reasonably constant decibel level, the problem with live recordings otherwise is that the overall decibel level varies so much)

2. Lower the background volume while characters are talking. I'm not sure, this seems to happen sometimes, but certain bits of music are still too loud and overpower the dialog. So maybe it needs to be lowered more.

The problem is, even when I've found satisfactory levels that give me that loudest music possible, there will be occasional characters or lines that I can't really hear. An example of this would be European Guy, the volume of his voice varied quite a bit so some lines got really badly drowned out, even though Sam's voice was perfectly crisp and clear. At this point if I turned the dialog volume up more, Sam's voice was way too loud and bassy and shook my desk.

A third option that would at least partially help, is if the game remembered my settings from one episode to the next. This worked pretty well in Season 2, but for some reason in Season 3 the settings are just reset at the beginning of each episode, so I have to go and change my resolution and quality settings each time, as well as repeating the process of trying to sort out the volumes. The resolution menu is particularly troublesome because there's a huge list of resolutions, and I have to click down forever to find 1080p. Couldn't the game at least default to the current desktop resolution?

Just some minor suggestions of course, but I think it would make the game experience that bit better if I didn't have to spend so much time in the menus!

7 Comments - Linear Discussion: Classic Style
  • I agree about keeping the same settings throughout the season, but the sound levels were fine for me anyway. Guess it just differs for each individual.
    I think my levels were set to something like 3, 10, 4. Never changed it.

  • @adventureaddict said: I agree about keeping the same settings throughout the season, but the sound levels were fine for me anyway. Guess it just differs for each individual.
    I think my levels were set to something like 3, 10, 4. Never changed it.

    Because I have a proper stereo system plugged into my PC, I'm a bit more sensitive to these things. Normal computer speakers tend to compress the audio a bit by themselves.

    I still think that default settings where the dialog is on "full" and the music/sfx are on "minimum" are a bit ... strange!

  • I guess it is a little strange. :p
    It's never affected me I spose because I'm always using headphones. Perhaps if more people spoke up TT might do something about it.

  • @adventureaddict said: I guess it is a little strange. :p
    It's never affected me I spose because I'm always using headphones. Perhaps if more people spoke up TT might do something about it.

    Actually this time I was mostly playing on headphones, and still had the same problem. If I had the music as loud as I wanted it, then the dialog had to be mostly ear-hurtingly loud to ensure I could hear some of the quieter lines.

    I'm kind of surprised nobody else has experienced this ... maybe something wrong with my ears? :confused:

  • That's why I always turn on subtitles. Then I just force myself to watch the characters, until I didn't catch a word or phrase, then I look at the subtitles. That works pretty well for me :)

  • Well, the default positions of the sliders seem odd indeed. One would expect something more like all in the middle or something. Nevertheless, they work fine for me as they were. I played with both, an adequate stereo amplifier and with headphones, depending on time of day. Linear response, ie. no EQ'ing. My computer is in the center of the room, and my speakers on pillars for optimal positions. (I also use this system for mixing and mastering music.) I never touched the sliders in season 3.

    @serializer said: 1. Put all dialog through audio compression

    If there ever will be such a feature, by all means, make it optional! I hate being forced listening to compressed music.

    @serializer said: I agree about keeping the same settings throughout the season

    This was so well done in season 2. I wonder why it isn't in season 3.

  • @LogicDeLuxe said:
    If there ever will be such a feature, by all means, make it optional! I hate being forced listening to compressed music.

    Real-time compression is far too processor-intensive to use in a game, and they can't exactly distribute with two versions of the audio tracks. In any case I was suggesting using it for the dialog not the music.

    Having thought about it, I'm sure a lot of the audio already goes through compression during various stages of the production process, or the volume levels really would be all over the place. But maybe some dialog needs it a bit more than others?

    @LogicDeLuxe said: That's why I always turn on subtitles. Then I just force myself to watch the characters, until I didn't catch a word or phrase, then I look at the subtitles. That works pretty well for me :)

    I really have tried this, but the subtitles are just too much of a visual distraction for me. No matter how hard I try, my eyes are always drawn back to them. It kind of ruins the fun of the game if I'm constantly having to concentrate on not looking at a particular part of the screen!

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