iPhone Life magazine

Can You Hear Me Now? (An Open Letter to Apple)

Dear Apple,

I don't know whether you read this blog or not, but I'm going to assume (pretend?) that you do.

First Things First

I came over from the dark side in November 2012. That was when I purchased my first Apple product: the iPhone 4S. I'd always heard how great Apple products were and so I was not surprised that the 4S lived up to all the hype from my friends and colleagues regarding your products.

With the 4S, I immediately became an Apple fan. I began to follow what others wrote about you and your products. In the spring of 2013, I got excited about the iOS 7 rumors and was thrilled after the announcement when most of the rumors came true. I love almost everything about iOS 7.  

Then you went ahead and released the iPhone 5s and 5c. I was so stoked.

The day before Christmas 2013, I upgraded my 4S to the 5s (and gave my 4S to my wife, converting her to Apple too!)

But, Apple, We Have a Problem

When iTunes Radio was announced with the iOS 7 announcement, I was very happy. Once I had downloaded iOS 7, I subscribed to iTunes Match and canceled my Pandora One subscription. I thought life was grand. Until...

For reasons I can't understand, there are volume issues with iOS 7. I have spoken to your very helpful tech support people and they are unable to help me.

Bleeding Ears and Going Deaf:  My Choice  

When I was out on the trails riding my mountain bike or cutting my lawn (with a motorless lawn mower), I noticed that the volume for songs played on iTunes Radio or purchased via the iTunes Store was not as loud as Pandora One was. I also noticed that music I had the CD for (and had uploaded to iTunes Match) didn't have volume limiting issues either.

Things got even more confusing when I downloaded some songs from the same album that I had downloaded other songs from another site. The songs downloaded from iTunes didn't play as loudly as the songs I downloaded somewhere else. I found that very odd. You would think that all the songs from the same album would be played at the same volume. Not so with iTunes.

I experimented with the various EQ settings. Nope, that wasn't it.

It all comes down to the fact that songs from iTunes or played on iTunes Radio/iTunes Match are at a lower volume than songs that were not purchased from iTunes.

I don't know why there is a volume limiting issue with iTunes/iTunes Radio/iTunes Match. It's very frustrating. If I want to listen to music so loud that my ears bleed or I go deaf, that is my choice. It's not up to you to protect me.

Do you care? I Have no Way of Knowing  

And what's interesting is that with iTunes Match, you scan my computer for songs I have that are also available on iTunes Match. Theoretically, if the songs are in iTunes, there is no upload, but I get to listen to the high quality version that has been mastered for iTunes. However, as in the album I downloaded songs from someplace else, these songs still play louder than iTunes version.

I will not abandon you, Apple. You are a great company that produces great products. But I really wish you would take care of this volume issue. Maybe it's just me. But that's okay. I'm allowed to voice my disapproval. I want to be able to listen to music at the volume I want. Pandora lets me do that. Why don't you?


A confused but happy Apple fan.

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Mark Struczewski's picture
Mark is a professional speaker, author, and blogger. Follow him on Twitter. Like him on Facebook. Connect with him on LinkedIn.