My desktop has recently decided to downgrade my max volume. I don’t know
why. I haven’t changed a thing that I know of, but the end result is that while
the AC is on, I can’t watch movies or YouTube clips. I run Windows 7 Ultimate.
All software settings have been maxed out; I have external speakers with
dedicated power supply also maxed out; connecting the speakers to an iPod gives
me ear splitting volume. I’ve also tried headphones, but with the exact same
issue. Noise cancelling headphones help but only because they cancel the
background noise; the overall volume is still very low. Any idea what I’m
missing? Are there any third-party software that I can install to increase the
In this excerpt from
Answercast #16, I show the location of Windows 7 advanced volume
controls to adjust the sound through your speakers.
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Windows 7 volume control
I don’t know of any third-party software that’s gonna solve this. And I’m a
little concerned about your having mentioned the AC. I actually don’t know if
you mean AC as in connected to AC power, or AC as in the air conditioning being
Regardless, there is a catch. There is something that happened in Windows 7
(it may actually have been in Windows Vista) where there are more
volume controls than you might be aware of.
The thing to do is to go ahead and click on the Speaker icon to get the
volume control for the system. That will give you the normal slider, that I’m
sure you have moved all the way to the top. Below that should be an item that
Click on that and you will get an interface that shows you not only the
system’s sound (or the device speakers, the device volume), but you will see
that several of the applications currently running have their own volume
slider. That also impacts the volume being output by that application or by
those individual applications.
For example, as I’m looking here:
- I have my speakers set to their maximum volume.
- I have the system sounds set to their maximum volume.
- I have sound that may be produced by mail programs set to its maximum
- But, I see that Audacity (my audio recording program with which I’m
currently recording this podcast) has its volume set to around 20%. So when it
plays back, it’s going to play back very quietly compared to other
And that’s the point… that’s the point of this interface. Rather than have
a global volume control for the system, you can actually control the volume
that’s being output by individual applications.
Hidden volume settings
The trick is that this clearly was “kinda sorta” hidden.
So the very first thing I would suggest you do is to click on that Mixer
button. Make sure that all of the applications that show up there (when you’re
trying to play back a video or do whatever else you’re currently having trouble
with) have their volumes to their maximum in this interface.
Some applications will actually use this as their volume control. If you
have an application that has its own volume control, changing that may reflect
here. On the other hand, some applications will not.
So in reality, what you have are three separate volume controls to go through
before the sound actually makes its way out to your speakers, possibly even
- You have the volume control from the application itself.
- You have the Windows provided volume control for the application.
- You have the system volume control.
- And then, you may of course have an additional volume control on your
speakers or stereo system.
So there are lots of opportunities to turn things down. You need to
check all four of those locations and make sure everything is turned up as high
as possible before you start worrying too much about something physically not