Publish at February 15 2023 Updated February 15 2023

Why has listening with subtitles become common?

A growing need as the audiovisual industry works with sound differently

At one time, subtitling technology was only for the hearing impaired and was very expensive, so it was not widely available. Since then, subtitles have become accessible; even movie theaters offer subtitled screenings, even for dubbed films.

More and more people without hearing pathology admit to putting on subtitles while watching a movie or series on their TV or phone to understand some dialogue. A feeling confirmed by this Vox capsule (in English with choice of subtitles ).

In fact, microphone technologies have changed on the sets. Now, actors don't have to exaggerate the way they deliver their lines. As a result, some actors whisper more in their acting and unlike in the past, the film industry tries to use as little dubbing over clips as possible to cut costs. So it is the sound editors who have to adjust the dialogue. However, they can't edit them too much either to keep the sound dynamic. If a lyric has the same volume as an explosion, it loses dramatic force.

Finally, these editors mostly work on the audio according to the best technologies for well-equipped theaters. Afterwards, this is compressed to fit on 7, 5 or 2 speakers.

What's more, our modern TVs often project the sound behind, muffling it. So, to get understandable dialogue, you either have to go to a good theater, get a substantial home sound system, or just turn on subtitles.

Time: 10min42

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