View Full Version : Why does the volume level change?

2006-02-11, 18:40
I suspect this is a totally lame question, but I figured there were enough audiophiles out there who play music from their computer (as opposed to piping it through an amplifier first) to give me a clue here.

When playing music from the computer, why does Winamp play my music significantly "louder" than iTunes at the same set volume levels? Is Winamp simply more efficient than iTunes at passing the signal to the sound card and out to my speakers? Does this disparity have anything to do with perceptible fidelity, particularly at higher volumes?

There's something that bothers me about having to turn the volume up significantly when I use iTunes. This could have to do with my old school notions about not turning up the volume too much for fear of introducing some distortion.

Should I use Winamp over iTunes for playback? Do I have an underpowered sound card? An inquiring mind wants to know.

Mark Lanctot
2006-02-12, 10:09
Computer programs use fairly arbitrary volume levels. Most go through the Windows Mixer, which makes their volumes fairly even, but some do not, and some have their own volume controls (Quicktime, Windows Media Player, Winamp, foobar2000).

What it all means is that there's no real standard and each program can determine their own volume.

BTW your sound card is not "underpowered", it's your computer speakers that do the actual amplification.

Yet another reason to move sound processing to a real audio component like the Squeezebox.

2006-02-12, 10:14
if you rip songs in iTunes, it adds 'replay gain' tags to the songs to note the maximum volume and uses that in playback. (ie, some music it will decide "whoever masted the CD was deaf, I'll turn it down some".)

I don't believe WinAMP pays attention to those tags.

(Slimserver can if you tell it to.)