Increase Volume on Windows XP (software?)

Discussion in 'Computer Support' started by Juggo, Jul 11, 2004.

  1. Juggo

    Juggo Guest


    I have a Toshiba laptop running Windows XP (home). When I play
    certain DVDs, the volume is unusually low (as is the case with DVD's
    even when you play them on a normal player on your television -- at
    least from my experience). I've increased the volume all the way up
    in the built in 'Master Volume' function Windows has, and increased
    the speaker volume all the way up from the 'Sound' section of the
    control panel, yet it is still not very loud when I play DVDs. I know
    the speakers can handle louder audio because when I play normal files
    (i.e. mp3's), it plays at a reasonable volume.

    Question is, is there any way to increase the volume above the level
    Windows has set as the top level? I thought I might be able to find
    some software that would have this function but was unable to. Or is
    the only solution to buy some speakers to plug into the laptop's audio
    port that will play the audio louder?

    Thanks in advance...
    Juggo, Jul 11, 2004
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  2. Juggo

    tc Guest

    Make sure your external volume control on the front of the laptop is turned
    up. Expand the volume control applet and ensure the wav level is
    tc, Jul 11, 2004
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  3. Juggo

    juggo Guest

    Yep, I've checked both of those of course.

    The volume control on the outside is turned all the way up as is the wave
    volume on the 'Master Volume' control (all of them are turned up to the
    maximum level in fact).

    juggo, Jul 11, 2004
  4. Juggo

    Mr. Gray Guest

    Your DVD software may have it's own volume control. And/or, check the
    Windows Volume Control and make sure (Options --> Properties) to make sure
    the WAV volume is showing. It may be low, or your DVD software may be
    setting it low while it's running.
    Mr. Gray, Jul 11, 2004
  5. Juggo

    PC Guest


    Check to see if your e sound is not set to 5.1, this may give you the left
    and right front channels only! not the centre front, left back, right back
    and sub channels.

    Try setting the sound chipset to Stereo 'Desktop Speakers' or 'Headphones'
    the likelyhood is that the c,lr,rr & sub channels will then be 'mixed' into
    the lf and lr channels so you get 'all' the sound.

    Where these settings are depends on your sound chipset.

    PC, Jul 11, 2004
  6. Juggo

    red ted Guest

    I had this problem. It's usually the DVD playing software. The DVD usually
    has two or 3 different audio tracks. One will have the commentary track but
    there are usually two audio tracks. One of them is much louder than the
    other. About half the DVDs I play usually auto select the track with the
    low volume. You can usually select another track (the much louder one).
    red ted, Jul 11, 2004
  7. Juggo

    red ted Guest

    By the way, you can change it in the audio menu of the DVD s/w you use to
    play the disk.
    red ted, Jul 11, 2004
  8. First of all, most Toshiba laptops have a volume control KNOB on them
    that many users don't even know exists. Have you turned that knob up
    all the way? It's usually located next to the headphone and microphone
    Barry Watzman, Jul 11, 2004
  9. In that case, there's nothing that you can easily do, the DVD was just
    recorded low. [not unusual, for cds or dvds. I have the CD of "Back to
    Titanic", a 2nd "soundtrack" album from the movie Titanic, and on some
    songs the PEAK level is less than 20%, the peak level of the entire CD
    is only about 60%].

    If you were fanatic about it and wanted to take drastic measures, you
    could "rip" the CD, then reprocess the audio track to "normalize" it,
    bringing the peak level to 100% and everything else up accordingly. It
    would be a LOT of trouble. It's also possible that the peak level is
    100%, and that everything else is just dramatically (but
    correspondingly) lower. This can happen if the peak level occurs during
    an explosion or some other momentary but extremely loud event, and the
    audio processing was sloppy.
    Barry Watzman, Jul 11, 2004
  10. This is a very fine and picky technical exposition/discussion, so if such
    things make you yawn you can safely skip it. <g>

    The low recorded level may be the result of aesthetic preference influencing
    technical practice.

    Some engineers prefer to record sounds at their "natural" level--that is,
    the loudness of the recorded sound matches the loudness the sound would be
    if it were heard in the wild. There is no background noise such as tape
    hiss, phonograph record surface noise, etc. in the modern digital recording
    process[1] (as oppposed to background noise in the recorded "sound space,"
    which some would argue is just as much a part of the music as the
    instrumental sounds), and the available dynamic range of DVDs (and of CDs)
    approaches that of human hearing; both of these make this "natural"
    approach to recording possible and are considered by some engineers and
    producers to be compelling arguments for its use. The idea is that if one
    sets the volume control on one's playback system such that a sound recorded
    at the 100% peak level of the recording process results in a played back
    sound at the maximum level one's playback system is capable of (ideally,
    the same level as the recorded sound and, basically, the threshold of pain
    and damn the neighbors or the glassware) and you never vary that setting,
    the argument is that you are hearing the sounds at their natural and proper
    level, and any variance from that is considered a distortion of the
    original sound.

    The other approach--and that used in the days of more primitive equipment
    with a much narrower dynamic range--is to make test recordings to determine
    the maximum level that whatever is being recorded will produce, set the
    equipment such that that this loudest sound causes the equipment to
    register the maximum level permitted by the system (or maybe a little less,
    to provide a fudge factor in case something is unexpectedly louder), and
    leave that setting in place for the duration of the recording session.
    "Riding gain"--continually twiddling the recording level to compensate for
    variations in the loudness of what's being recorded--is a no-no because it
    distorts the dynamic range, although it often used to be necessary because
    the older equipment could not accommodate the entire dynamic range and you
    had to fudge in order to prevent over- or under-recording if a limiter was
    not available. "Limiting" is a form of electronic signal processing which
    compresses the dynamic range, and it was a common and (some argued)
    essential part of making phonograph records and in live radio/TV pickups:
    it boosts the level of the softest passages so they can be heard above the
    background noise, while at the same time reducing the level of the loudest
    passages so they don't overload the system. Limiting is still used for
    special effects, particularly in pop material.

    Now about "normalization": that can be good or bad, depending on the
    algorithm used. Some normalizers are basically "volume expanders," or
    limiters turned backward; they stretch the dynamic range of the material.
    The softest sounds in the original remain soft, at their original level,
    while the level of the loudest sounds is raised to (or close to) the peak
    level permitted by the recording process, and that which lies in between is
    raised in level proportionately. This, to me, is a significant distortion
    of the original recorded sound. Not only is it quite likely that the
    original recording didn't sound at all like that (and in some cases it is
    quite obvious and even unsettling), and in extreme cases you might have to
    turn the volume up to hear the softer parts of something, then turn it back
    down to keep your ears from being blasted out when a peak occurs. Other
    normalizers simply raise the level of the entire selection as a block by
    the amount required to get the loudest sound to the peak level of the
    process, without tampering with the dynamic range. To my mind this is the
    right way of doing it, although if it's an older analog recording, there's
    the possibility it might raise the level of the original background noise
    to the point that it would be distracting ... but then, it probably was

    While I agree with the aesthetic basis underlying "natural" technique--to a
    point, at least--it's still a pain in the ass when you're going back and
    forth from one recording to another (doing a radio show or an audio
    collage, for example) and have to keep twiddling the levels so that
    everything sounds about the same level. And, of course, it will always be
    this way, since older recordings were made such that their loudest sound
    matched the peak level of the available process, lest the softest sounds be
    lost in the background hash.

    And The Moral Is: Nothing's perfect.

    [1] Slight caveat: yes, there is still the slight hiss produced by the
    random quantum motion of electrons in the connecting wiring and which you
    can hear if you crank your stereo up really loud, particularly on low-level
    inputs such as those used for microphones and magnetic phonograph
    Gary G. Taylor, Jul 12, 2004
    Gary G. Taylor, the attacher of extra horses to wa, Jul 12, 2004
  12. That's extremely interesting, Gary - thanks.

    A couple of questions:

    1. While there may be virtually no noise in digital media - if the
    sounds are stored at low levels, doesn't this reduce the range of
    intensity that is covered by a particular sound, and therefore reduce
    the accuracy it is recorded at? I.e. if a sound was recorded to make
    use of the entire range, then for every moment in time it can use any
    of the 16 bits (not sure if this is right), but if it is recorded, say
    at half the volume, it can only effectively make use of 15 bits.
    Presumably you must get to a quiet level that can only use 1 bit - and
    then the signal must be drowned in, (I think they're called),
    quantisation artefacts.

    2. Back to the thread - is it possible that DVDs are recorded the two
    ways you mentioned (normalised and actual dB), as someone earlier in
    the thread has suggested?

    Duncan James Murray, Jul 12, 2004
  13. Juggo

    juggo Guest

    Thanks red ted,

    That probably explains the problem and is the only actual solution, other
    than (as someone else brought up) ripped the DVD and then increasing the
    audio manually -- which is too much trouble.

    I was really just hoping someone knew of a program that was like a suped-
    up version of Windows' Master Volume applet, where instead of increasing
    the volume to '100%' I could go to '200%' But I'll give this a try and
    mess around with the actual DVD software (I usually use PowerDVD or
    WinDVD but this particular time I was using the built-in DVD player
    software -- it was the 'Meet the Parents' DVD)


    juggo, Jul 12, 2004
  14. I think I see your question: If the material's recorded at a level
    sufficient to hit the peak level of the recorder, does it use more bits to
    represent it? No. While it is true that the sound will occupy the entire
    dynamic range of the recording medium, the softest sound will still be the
    same relative distance (level-wise) from the loudest, only instead of being
    at the "floor" of the audible range it will be somewhere above that. The
    overall dynamic range of the recorded material will still be the same.
    Quantization artifacts do occur but newer techniques have been developed to
    minimize them and, I believe in the newer 128K samples, they are absent.
    Most pop and rock music is highly compressed (not normalized); in some cases
    the overall dynamic range of an entire cut may be only 5 dB or so. As a
    case in point (although this is an older recording, the practice hasn't
    varied that much since), look at Eric Burdon's recording of "House of the
    Rising Sun" on a visual display. In places where he sings very loudly, the
    recorded level will slightly decrease because he's exceeded the limiter's
    maximum level setting and the limiter squashes it down (actually,
    overcompensates slightly) to prevent over-recording. Otherwise, the overall
    dynamic range of the cut is very narrow; viewed on an old style analog VU
    meter, the needle appears to stay at about the same place all the way

    If you ask "Are the recordings normalized," you're just asking if the peak
    level on them has been adjusted so as to be near the peak level of the
    recording process; that says nothing about whether the original recording
    was compressed. A person with experience listening to recorded material can
    easily tell if compression or expansion has been used in the recording;
    most people can't hear it unless the compression/expansion has been
    overdone, perhaps intentionally for special effect.

    Since older analog recordings are compressed as a matter of course they'll
    still be compressed when transferred to digital media, although there are
    cases where attempts have been made to stretch the range--with varying
    success. The only way of telling whether that had been done would be to do
    an A-B comparison between the original (probably vinyl) and the CD
    transfer, and to compare the two aurally and on a visual display. If there
    was any modification, it would be obvious.

    But bear in mind that the amount of expansion might be very little. Consider
    a symphony recording by a full orchestra. The dynamic range of a symphony
    orchestra can approach the full range of human hearing (roughly 110-120dB);
    this would have to be compressed down to the 70-80dB or so capability of
    vinyl analog recordings. Now, where in the dynamic range was that
    compression done? Were the lower-level sounds increased in level, were the
    higher-level sounds "clipped" so they did not exceed the maximum, or was
    some combination of the two techniques used? If the lower level material
    was raised but the peak level stuff left alone, the expansion could cover
    just that lower level, would not be that great, and would probably be not
    that audible without careful A-B examination. On the other hand, if the
    higher level material was clipped (the usual case and often very audible,
    especially in 78rpm recordings) it would be very obvious in the original
    recording, and attempting to expand it would be difficult because there is
    nothing in the compressed recording to indicate how much and where the
    clipped peaks should be increased in level. The expanded version of this
    recording would therefore sound artificial. An exception to this would
    occur if the transferring engineer was familiar with the piece--especially
    if s/he happened to be the engineer at the original session--and was able
    to manually adjust the range; that might end up sounding rather well,
    depending on the engineer's skill.
    Gary G. Taylor, Jul 13, 2004
  15. Juggo

    AndrewJ Guest

    Sure. You're using the AC3 codec and just need the little panel that
    allows gain.
    AndrewJ, Jul 13, 2004
  16. Juggo

    Zibri Guest

    Yes... it's named AC97mix but it only support a few audio cards...
    Search for it on google.
    Zibri, Aug 2, 2004
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