Speakers playing audio very quietly at full volume


Being a full-time Mac user, I first discovered how to amplify my speakers with a program called Audio Hijack, from Rogue Amoeba. This software lets both audio professionals and hobbyists perform all kinds of useful tricks, such as recording Skype calls for podcast interviews and capturing the audio from a webinar.

The sheer power and simplicity of the interface is impressive. Follow the steps below just once, and you’ll be ready to crank your speakers up to 4x their normal maximum volume* each time you open the program.

  1. Open Audio Hijack
  2. Click and drag the Applications block into the main window
  3. Select the Application you’d like to make louder from the drop-down menu
  4. Repeat step two with the “Volume” module (under “Built-in Effects”.) Your main window should now look like this:
  5. Click and drag the “Output” module into the main window.
  6. Set your output device to “Internal Speakers.”
  7. Click the button in the lower-left corner of the program to run your audio through Audio Hijack.
  8. Adjust the audio level to your hearts content using the Volume module. A good starting point is to select the “2X” button under “Overdrive” and move the volume slider up. If this isn’t enough, experiment with the “3X” and “4X” overdrive.

This is what your final settings should look like:

Audio Hijack is available on Rogue Amoeba’s websit

Audio Hijack is available on Rogue Amoeba’s website for $65. There’s also a free, limited version you can try to make sure it works for you.

Note that if you don’t need any of the other features that Audio Hijack provides, it’s worth checking out SoundSource instead. Developed by the same company, it provides all the same audio-boosting goodness as Audio Hijack at around half the price.

*The tech that makes this possible is interesting, but without getting into the nuts and bolts of it, this app won’t damage your speakers. However, I recommend against blasting your Slayer collection at 4X for an hour, just to play it safe. Stick with movies and YouTube.

Setting or Locking the Windows Volume Level

It’s quite possible that other software or erroneous settings in Windows keep adjusting the Windows volume when you want it to stay at a certain level. Here’s a couple of tools to help with that.

Speaker Admin

Speaker Admin is a program for XP, Vista, 7 and 8 that can lock your Windows volume level to an exact value at specific times of the day, or it can set the level above or below a certain threshold, for instance quieter in the evenings.

To permanently lock the Windows volume level in Sp

To permanently lock the Windows volume level in Speaker Admin, disable all rules apart from the top one, enter 0 and 24 for the hours, select Exactly for the rule type, enter the volume level to lock to as a percentage and make sure Muted is unticked. Then tick “Only this application can alter system volume” to stop other software trying to alter the master volume in windows, Tick to start with Windows and click Hide to send the program to the background.

Try to alter the master volume now and it will just keep springing back to the level you set. Do note that if you change the default sound device the program needs to be restarted to recognise the change. You can also hide the tray icon and even set a password to stop other users from altering the sound. Watch out for an adware option on install.

Download Speaker Admin (Advanced Volume Control for XP)


If you would like it set the system volume to a default level every time you start your computer, this tool can help. NirCMD has hundreds of different functions for manipulating various options in Windows from the command line, one of those functions is controlling the system volume level. Download and run NirCMD as administrator, then allow it to copy itself to the Windows folder for easier usage.

To create a shortcut which you can either double c

To create a shortcut which you can either double click on from the desktop or place in your Windows startup folder to set the volume every time you logon to Windows, right click on Desktop > New > Shortcut and type the following into the box:

nircmd.exe setsysvolume 49150

Click Next, give the shortcut a suitable name (Set Volume 75%) and click Finish. Your system volume should now reset to 75% whenever you launch the shortcut. The NirCMD volume setting goes from 0 to 65535, to set if half way use 32767 or obviously to 65535 for 100%.

To simplify things we have created 3 shortcuts for

To simplify things we have created 3 shortcuts for you, for 50%, 75% and 100% volume, complete with a proper icon.

Download NirCMD Volume Shortcuts for XP

Download NirCMD Volume Shortcuts for Vista, 7 and 8

The only requirement for these shortcuts is making sure you have run NirCMD and placed a copy of it into your Windows directory or a recognized system path.

Download NirCMD


Check The Speaker Settings

To check if there’s an issue with your speaker settings. First, you need to make sure that your sound isn’t muted. There’s usually a mute button or shortcut cut located on your keyboard that you may have accidentally pushed.

To ensure that your laptop isn’t on mute, click the speaker icon in the Windows system tray. Then, if you see an X next to the speaker symbol, click it to unmute. Alternatively, you can use the mute button or the function key shortcut on your keyboard if your laptop has one.

Check Default Audio Device

When you often use devices like wireless headphones or external monitors, those devices are stored in your laptop. So if one of those devices were set as a playback device, your computer would remain quiet if the device isn’t connected.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, you’ll need to set your computer speakers as your primary playback device. To do this, left-click the speaker icon and check your current playback device. If it isn’t your speakers, click the device’s name and then click your computer speakers from the menu.

When In Doubt, Troubleshoot

Every windows device has a built-in sound troubleshooter. It checks and fixes most problems automatically. To do this, right-click the speaker icon and click troubleshoot sound problems, then follow the prompts.

Check Communications Settings

There is a built-in low volume feature in some computers that helps you get clearer audio when you use your computer to place or receive phone calls. This feature can automatically reduce your volume by 100 percent and could be the reason why your speakers are quiet.

To check this, right-click on the volume icon in the taskbar and select sounds. Then, switch to the communications tab, and when you’re there, make sure the “Do nothing” feature is selected. If it isn’t, then click on it and save your changes.

Update The Audio Driver

  1. In the Windows search box, type device manager, then select Device Manager.
  2. Select Audio Inputs and outputs, then right-click on your speakers and select update driver.
  3. If no driver is found, then you can look for one on the device manufacturer’s website and follow their instructions.

Reinstall The Audio Driver

Alternatively, you can just reinstall the drivers by following these simple steps:

  1. In the device manager, select Audio inputs and outputs.
  2. Right-click on your computer speakers and select Uninstall.
  3. Restart your computer.
  4. This will attempt to reinstall your audio driver.

Check The Loudness Equalization

You can also check the Loudness Equalization settings to find out why your speakers are quiet. If it isn’t activated, your speakers will produce a lower volume.

How To Activate Loudness Equalization

  1. Open settings, click on system and then click on sound.
  2. Scroll down until you see “Related Settings” and then click on the Sound Control Panel.
  3. Select the speaker that’s set as the default (usually has a green check)
  4. Click the Properties button and then click on the Enhancements tab.
  5. Check the Loudness Equalization option and then click the Apply button followed by the OK button, and voila. This should fix any volume issues you may have experienced.

Physically Check For Hardware Problems

If you need to, you can always open up and inspect the computer for any hardware issues that might be present with the speaker.

Hardware Volume Controls

Although this seems to be less common nowadays, many laptops and some netbooks actually have a volume control slider, or more likely a rotary volume control on the side or front of the laptop. This is a hardware control and behaves the same way as an inline volume control on a set of headphones and is completely separate from any operating system volume controls or levels.

The control is usually on the side or front of the

The control is usually on the side or front of the laptop, often near the line out, mic and headphone connection sockets. Note these controls are separate to the media controls on some laptops that are between the keyboard and the screen, those do actually alter the master volume level in Windows. The easy way to find out is change the level on your media keys and watch the sliders in the Sound Mixer window.


To my dismay, I discovered some Windows users might actually have an easier fix for this problem. Then I researched some more, and realized that it’s a little more complicated depending on what type of sound card you have. That sounds more like the Microsoft I know.

Don’t worry, there is a solution for you Windows folks: it’s just that you may have to try more than one of the following approaches.

The Built-in Windows Solution

  1. Open your Control Panel
  2. Select “Sound” under Hardware and Sound
  3. Select your speakers, then click Properties
  4. Select the Enhancements tab
  5. Check Loudness Equalization
  6. Click Apply

If you made it to the end of all six steps without scratching your head, congratulations. You’re good to go.

If not, you probably got stuck at step four or five. Some sound cards apparently don’t give you this option, or Microsoft thought it’d be too easy if all machines had volume equalization. Either way, there’s hope for you yet.

PC Alternative #1

  1. Open your Control Panel
  2. Select “Sound” under Hardware and Sound
  3. Select your speakers, then click Properties
  4. Select the Enhancements tab
  5. Select Equalizer
  6. Turn up each EQ band.
  7. Save this setting as a preset for easy recall* (Optional)

If you got stuck here, it was probably on that darn step number four or five again. Luckily, there’s still one more option.

PC Alternative #2

  1. Download and install this software: . Make note of the install location. You’ll need this later.
  2. Select your speakers under the Configurator window that will pop-up while installing.
  3. Restart your computer.
  4. Go to the location where you installed the software.
  5. Select the “Config” folder.
  6. Open the config text document. Delete everything in the file.
  7. Type the following into the document: Preamp: +10 dB
  8. Click Save.

The changes will be effective immediately. You can edit the config file again if you need to adjust the volume.

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