By Mark Struczewski on Tue, 01/28/2014
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post titled, Can You Hear Me Now? (An Open Letter to Apple), where I wrote about my frustration at the volume levels put out by iTunes Radio and iTunes Match. I received many comments to that post and instead of writing my findings as a comment, I wanted to write what I learned and what I did in a separate post.
I won't rehash what I wrote in the other post, if you didn't read it you can do so here.
A Fix for the Volume Level—Sort Of
One of the commenters told me about a setting in iTunes that I wasn't aware of. You can raise the volume level of each individual song in iTunes by doing the following. But to do this for my entire library, I selected all and then did the following. Whether you select all, a few songs or just a single song, the process is the same.
Step One: Right-click and choose Get Info.
Step Two: Click on the Options tab. Here you will see the Volume Adjustment setting (-100% to +100%). By default, iTunes has it set to None. By dragging the slider to the +100% setting, all the songs you had highlighted will then have their volume increased 100% (or whatever setting you choose). I chose +100% because you can always make a high volume lower but you can't make a low volume higher.
This happens immediately. If you are an iTunes Match subscriber (as I am), I suggest you then go to Store > Update iTunes Match to make sure the changes are pushed to your iOS devices. This may happen automatically, but I chose to push this.
When the Volume Won't Get Louder
Unfortunately, if you have music that was recorded in the studio 20-plus years ago (and this is a generalization), chances are good that some of it was recorded at a lower volume level than music is recorded at today. There is nothing that iTunes can do about this. I have an album I downloaded a few years ago from the early '80s which was recorded at much lower volume. That's just the way it is.
iTunes Radio Still the Same
While this volume fix does work for music on iTunes and iTunes Match, there is no fix (that I am aware of) for iTunes Radio. If you increase your music volume to +100% and then listen to a song and then switch to iTunes Radio, you will hear a dramatic decrease in the volume.
When I was a radio disc jockey (waaaay back in the '80s!), I learned that radio stations had something called a modulator. What this did was ensure that every song was the same volume. It boosted low volume songs and decreased loud volume songs (along with the DJs but not the commercials!) so that what we heard on the radio was the same. It would be nice if Apple could do this for their iTunes Radio.
What say you?
Have you tried the suggestions my readers gave? Did it work for you? What are your thoughts about the volume level for iTunes Radio?