Criticism of the acoustic intelligibility in TV films is felt to be directed particularly often at the ARD “Tatort” series – which may also have something to do with the fact that the Sunday detective stories of the first are particularly often honored with reviews, under which angry viewers can put their comments. Nevertheless, comments such as “Genuschel, which no one understands anymore” are by no means limited to the Franconian “crime scene”, this criticism was particularly often leveled at the episodes with Til Schweiger as Hamburg Chief Inspector Nick Tschiller. But now it is ZDF that first reacts to the repeated disapproval of difficult-to-understand dialogues. However, ZDF films such as the Austrian “Landkrimi” episode “Vier” are also affected.
The Mainz broadcaster sent out a press release on Tuesday. In it, ZDF announces an acoustically improved soundtrack called “Clear Language”. According to the broadcaster, the new sound offer has been available since June 1st. It is intended to emphasize the language more clearly and thus improve speech intelligibility. “The offer is now available for the ZDF main program, the programs ZDFneo, 3sat and ZDFinfo will follow gradually,” ZDF further announced.
According to the broadcaster, the new soundtrack will be integrated into the existing sound options (stereo, Dolby Digital, audio description, original sound) as an additional option. This is available via satellite, cable, DVB-T2 HD and in the program live streams in the ZDFmediathek app. The new service will also be offered shortly in the program live streams on the ZDF website. The “Clear Language” audio track must be selected on the end device or on the video player.
At the same time, the broadcaster tries to explain why programs are sometimes perceived as difficult to understand. According to ZDF, this not only depends on the mixing ratio of the contribution, but also on the reception conditions or individual hearing ability.
The broadcaster emphasizes that television films and documentaries are often produced at great expense and that the mixture of speech and accompanying sounds (noise and music) is part of the dramaturgy of the contribution. This could be perceived as insufficiently intelligible. “The additionally selectable sound track ‘Klare Sprach’ uses artificial intelligence algorithms to generate a broadcast sound that makes the spoken word much more present.
Technical solutions to improve voice quality already existed before. Some soundbars, which are used as a supplement to the television and allow a fuller sound, offer options for emphasizing the frequency spectrum of the human voice more. There is a section on the Soundbarfindr.com website that is specifically dedicated to this topic and provides an overview of the relevant devices.