Cool Tech

Amazon Prime Dialogue Boost is a Lie

Amazon Prime Video has begun offering Dialogue Boost as an option on a handful of its English-language Prime Original shows and movies. While Amazon is being tight-lipped about how exactly their “Dialogue Boost” works, they are claiming it is controlled by AI. We doubt it. Let’s take a closer look why Amazon Prime’s Dialogue Boost is a lie.

What Does this Dialogue Boost Do?

According to Amazon, they are using AI to boost the dialogue of some of their own shows. They plan on rolling this out to more (or all) of their content in the future. The Dialogue Boost will be available as one of the language options in their settings. If you’ve ever enabled Closed Captioning or changed the language of an imported show, you’ve already seen this menu.

Of course, Amazon is claiming they are using AI processing. This, according to them, will selectively enhance the dialogue and/or reduces background music and effects only in scenes where it detects that it will be difficult to make out what people are saying. One of the upsides is that the Dialogue Boost happens on the server side. This means that they do it before it is streamed. For the end user, this is great. You don’t have to wait for them to update every app on every one of your devices to get the feature. They just have to add a language option and can implement the Dialogue Boost from their end.

Why Do We Claim it is a Lie?

AI is the new buzzword in the tech industry. Everything is about to have the “AI” moniker slapped onto it. This Dialogue Boost of Amazon Prime is the same and it is likely a lie. For years we have used algorithms to do things. MP3 compression, search engines, and even video games use algorithms to give us what we want. It may be a smaller file, the best recipe, or enemies that react realistically to our in-game actions. But these are just a set of rules that are followed by a computer much like IF/THEN statements. If this, then do that. If not, go to the next rule.

None of these are what most people would consider to be AI.

When people think of AI, they think of a learning program that changes over time. This Dialogue Boost from Amazon is not that. Instead, they’ve plugged a bunch of rules into a computer that will boost or cut certain sounds according to those rules. Will the rules change over time? Maybe. But not because of the program. If they change, it will be because some person changed the parameters.

Will It Work?

AI or not, will the Dialogue Boost be effective? Honestly, it really depends. Most of the problems with dialogue intelligibility that people have come from one or two places. Either their room is the issue, or the audio in the original show is poor. If the problem is the room, then boosting the dialogue is unlikely to help. If the problem is in the original mix, then boosting some frequencies (while cutting others) could make it easier to pick out what is being said.

The lie of Amazon Prime’s Dialogue Boost is that it is powered by AI and that it will work for everyone. Neither of those is true. Even if there were an AI behind the original rules, there is no way for it to learn and change those rules. We’ve had “dialogue-enhancing” products for a long time. Our AV receivers often have algorithms that will boost or “lift” dialogue. While Amazon may claim that they have something different, we see no evidence that it is true.

If you’ve used other dialogue-enhancing products, and they haven’t worked for you, then we’d expect the same here. Amazon hasn’t reinvented dialogue enhancement, they’ve just slapped an AI sticker on it.

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