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When playing some movies in my computer the voices are really, really low - I have to boost the volume to the maximum in order to be able to hear anything. This causes some sound effects to be really, really high (apparently only the dialogue volume is wrong). It's not something that could'v been done by the producers as suggested here; the dialogue isn't almost inaudible, it's completely inaudible until the volume is close to "rock concert" - I have really good speakers.

It's not a 5.1 audio issue either, as suggested here, since I'm using regular stereo speakers and all but one movie didn't even have the option for 5.1 audio. With the one that had, I tried changing from stereo to 5.1 and to mono - no good.

The movies were obtained from different, unrelated sources, in different formats, i.e. .mkv, .avi and .mp4. In some of said movies I was able to "fix" this by opening and closing it multiple times until the audio came out correct.

I'm completely puzzled. What could this be and how should I fix it?

I'm running Debian 7.0.0 (wheezy) but the same happened on 6.0.7 (squeeze). I'm using VLC to play the video, but the same happens with Totem and mplayer.

lspci relevant output:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 82G33/G31/P35/P31 Express DRAM Controller (rev 10)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82G33/G31/P35/P31 Express PCI Express Root Port (rev 10)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation NM10/ICH7 Family High Definition Audio Controller (rev 01)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation NM10/ICH7 Family PCI Express Port 1 (rev 01)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation NM10/ICH7 Family PCI Express Port 2 (rev 01)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 PCI Bridge (rev e1)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801GB/GR (ICH7 Family) LPC Interface Bridge (rev 01)
00:1f.2 IDE interface: Intel Corporation NM10/ICH7 Family SATA Controller [IDE mode] (rev 01)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation NM10/ICH7 Family SMBus Controller (rev 01)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation GT216 [GeForce GT 220] (rev a2)
01:00.1 Audio device: NVIDIA Corporation High Definition Audio Controller (rev a1)
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