ZDNET’s key takeaways
- The Soundfun Mirai speakers It’s available now on Amazon for $299.
- It does exactly what it says — and with impressive results. You can hear the dialogue with clarity without having to crank up your TV 11.
- It’s far from audiophile-quality sound, neither low end nor high, but for its original purpose, the speaker gets the job done.
Have you noticed that it’s getting harder to hear dialogue in movies and TV these days? There are many reasons for that problem, and it’s probably not because you have bad hearing. Instead, it is about director’s choice, acting style, lack of respect for sound on set, increased use of music and ambient sound, evolution of technology and passive listening of the audience. In short, there’s a reason why dialogue is getting harder and harder to listen to.
In some cases, you’ll find yourself turning up the volume on your television, only to find it doesn’t really do any good. I have many friends who turn on the subtitles to make sure they can hear what’s going on in the scene. Yes, it’s frustrating.
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For example, my treadmill and rowing machine are both in my basement, where I set up a television in front of them because both machines are terrifying to use without some distraction. I can use headphones, but even they don’t always help me hear the dialogue. And cranking up the soundbar I’ve been using for about a year might annoy someone else in the house.
So, when SoundFun sent me one Soundbar Designed specifically to enhance dialogue, I was anxious to try it out. Before even connecting the device, I was pretty sure how it worked and how it would sound.
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Soundfun Mirai Dialog Speaker
This speaker does a fantastic job of making sure you hear every line of dialogue in TV and movies.
- Curved-shaped speaker design to create sound waves for better distance listening
- Audio frequency: 150Hz~20kHz
- Amp Output: Dual 15W amps
- Audio Input: Optical and 3.5mm Analog
- Controller: Remote
- Color is black
- Dimensions: 21.3″ W
- Power: AC adapter (DC 12V 2A)
I was skeptical that this speaker would perform as claimed. First, I was pretty sure how it worked — bump up the midrange, which is the frequency most responsible for carrying the human voice, and bump the lows and highs. With the midrange in focus, dialog should be more prominent.
And that’s exactly the trick deployed on the soundbar, but it works very well. My first test while on the treadmill was watching The West Wing. Now, this wouldn’t normally be a good test of a speaker that focuses on dialogue because this series was filmed in the 1990s, when the dialogue wasn’t drowned out by so much figurative and metaphorical sound. But when a treadmill becomes a complete bore, conversation can be drowned out, even with great speakers. The SoundFun Mirai had no problem getting dialogue into my ears, even without cranking it up to max.
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The only issue with the speaker was a voice that was particularly mid-range-heavy and loud. When that voice peaked, the speaker resumed. This situation only happened once, but it surprised me. Other than that instance, I haven’t had a single problem with Mirai.
After the West Wing/treadmill test, I put the soundbar through its paces with movies from various eras while I used the rowing machine — and not once did I have trouble hearing dialogue. Even the different dialects and accents were as clear as if the speaker was right at home with me. From horror to documentary — I covered every genre I could think of and the SoundFun Mirai didn’t miss a beat.
One thing you must keep in mind is that you cannot expect cinema-quality sound with this device. There’s no subwoofer to bolster the low end, and the smaller speakers aren’t going to fill your room with an immersive sound experience. This speaker is built for one purpose, to make sure you hear the dialogue — and it does a great job
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The last thing I’ll say about this speaker is that setup and use couldn’t be easier. With only two options for input, you plug in either connection (it comes with both optical and 3.5mm cables), turn on the device and start listening. Even the remote is as basic as you’ll find, with just a power button and volume up/down buttons. Because it’s such a simple speaker, anyone can set it up in minutes and start listening to dialogue as if you were back in the 1980s or 1990s (minus the cool hair, funky clothes, and great music).
ZDNET’s buying advice
I was surprised how effective it was Soundfan Mirai Even while jogging on the treadmill or watching a movie I would have otherwise missed. If you find yourself struggling to hear dialogue in TV and movies, I recommend you give this speaker a try. You won’t be disappointed.