Classic Hacks: How To Fix Movies With Really Inconsistent Sound

Classic Hacks: How To Fix Movies With Really Inconsistent Sound

If you’re planning on settling in for a weekend movie night over the next few days, you want to make sure that you’re not having to change the volume every minute as the scenes change between quiet dialogue and REALLY LOUD action sequences. Here’s how to fix that problem in a few different ways.

Our original story and the video above mainly focused on the manual way to control audio normalisation in VLC Player. There are a few different ways to tackle this problem below, but here’s the main one:

  1. Head to Tools > Effects and Filters and click on the Compressor tab.
  2. Without changing your TV’s volume from its usual spot, find a quiet scene in the movie and raise the Makeup Gain slider until the volume is at a comfortable level. This will boost the volume of the entire movie so you don’t have to change your TV or computer’s volume from its usual setting.
  3. Raise the Ratio slider all the way up. This will ensure that any sound over a certain volume threshold will be turned down to a level you set.
  4. Without changing the volume, find a loud scene in the movie and start playing it. Lower the Threshold slider until the sound is at a non-earthquake-inducing level.
  5. Lastly, move “Attack” up to about 50ms, and “Release” up to about 300ms. This makes everything a bit more fluid, so your movie will change volumes when necessary but it will happen a bit more gradually.

Of course for an easier, though less nuanced solution, you can just click through to VLC’s ‘Filters’ tabs, and enable ‘Audio Normalisation’. If you’re watching Netflix or another type of movie streaming on your PC that can’t be watched through VLC, you can also take advantage of Windows’ inbuilt audio normaliser.

Open the Control Panel on your PC, click through to Hardware and Sound and then select Manage Audio Devices under the Sound subheading. From here, select the device you’re using and click Properties, then under the Enhancement tab scroll down until you can check the box next to ‘Loudness Equalization’.

Some smart TVs will even have a similar setting, so it’s worth having a look through your sound menu if you’re having a similar problem while watching things on the big screen.

Lifehacker’s Classic Hacks is a regular segment where we dig up the most popular, useful and offbeat advice from our archives and update it for your modern lifestyle.


  • Nice. I’d just been living with this inconvenience without actually bothering to do something about it.

    Now… where are the settings to do this in cinemas?

    • @transientmind Now… where are the settings to do this in cinemas?
      Why it’s simple, my man! The solution lies literally an arm’s length away!
      If you think about it, it’s always been just at your fingertips!
      Just stick them in your ears so you don’t interfere with someone else watching! They’re portable, waterproof, need no batteries, and come in 4 matching pairs with a unique design-They’re the perfect accessory! And the best thing? The cost! In that department, they’re the first truly Hands-Free device! Act now, and included are two large thumb-activated covers that don’t actually enter the ear, but allow you avoid listening to the person you are speaking with while leaving your hands able to waggle your fingers and go “nyah-nyah” like a rude child or poorly trained president.
      Hello from a year-old comment! Just trying to randomly share some laughter from America, instead of ignorance. Take care!
      ~some generally unhappy guy in America

  • does anyone know how to fix this on a plex client (ARM and Android based) I saw some normalization features in the settings but they don’t seem to do much 🙁

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