There is nothing worse than being limited on your headphone volume.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that loud music sounds better. Therefore, if you are wanting the most out of you headphones there are times when turning up the volume is necessary.
**Disclaimer: some of the things I'm going to show you today can be permanently damaging to both your headphones and your ears. Be careful! There are volume limiters on your devices for a reason. Remove at your own risk.
Hopefully you are just experiencing an underpowered set of headphones that need a little extra juice instead of someone looking to drown out every external noise with deafening volume.
The first thing you're going to want to check is the volume limit on your device (see the Volume Increasing App section below). This can be an incredibly easy fix that is completely free. There aren't any ways to increase the actual output of your headphones themselves. You're limited with beefing up the audio source or reducing the external noise.
With that out of the way, there are three different ways you can pump up the volume:
- Headphone amplifier
- Volume increasing app
The Best Option - Headphone Amplifiers
Let's start with the easiest of the three - headphone amplifiers.
Headphones are essentially speakers and all speakers require an amplifier. Most audio devices come with an internal headphone amp already built in. This includes smartphones, tablets, and computers. The issue arises when you consider the space limitations of these devices.
Because they are so small, it is difficult to sufficiently power the built-in amp and the size limitation reduces the overall effectiveness. This drastically reduces the power output potential resulting in your headphones likely being underpowered.
A set of underpowered headphones will be limited when it comes to volume and sound quality. You will begin to hear the audio distort when using the headphone at high volumes.
A standalone headphone amp will have enough space and enough power to satisfy your headphones.
- When should you buy a headphone amp?
Headphone amps won't always be the solution. As mentioned above, headphone amps are usually required when the power source is too small to meet the power requirements of the headphones.
This typically happens with over-ear headphones (usually above the $100 price range). This means those of you with in-ear headphones (earbuds) can safely assume your device is sending enough power to meet the requirements.
The first thing to check will be the headphone impedance. A set of headphones with high impedance (say 300 ohms) is going to require a lot more punch to move the drivers. This is typically found in planar magnetic headphones which are currently very popular. On the other hand, more efficient headphones (25 ohm range) won't get much out of a headphone amp.
Anything beyond 32 ohms can benefit from a headphone amp. If you need a recommendation check out this one.
- In-ear headphones (or earbuds) usually do not require headphone amps.
- Any over-ear headphones with impedance over 32 ohms will benefit from an amplifier.
Volume Increasing App
The first thing to check here is your volume limitation on your device. All devices these days come preset with volume output limitations to prevent accidental ear damage.
On an Apple device simply do the following:
Go to settings -> music.
Scroll down to the bottom of the music section and select "Playback".
Select volume limit and increase the device audio.
Here is the equivalent android version.
Still not loud enough? This is where 3rd party apps come in. There are a few on the market that will boost the overall playback volume of your device to hopefully something more suitable.
Installing these apps should give you the extra juice you need. However, please be mindful of safe volume levels. It's very easy to permanently damage your hearing. Here are the best apps currently available for both Apple and Android.
You should also consider downloading separate music players or EQing apps on your phone. These sometimes output higher quality sound and give you a few more controls to tweak your audio.
- First, check the volume limit on your device.
- Next, try a volume boosting app.
- Finally, if all else fails, try new music player, equalizers, or bass boosting apps.
Here is an additional unconventional option. If you are having a hard time hearing the audio out of your headphones it can sometimes be an isolation issue. External noise can interfere with the audio output of your headphones and force you to turn up the volume on your device. Public transit and loud gyms are notoriously bad for this. It's not uncommon to find someone listening to their headphones loud enough for you to clearly hear the audio.
A lot of over-ear headphones will have great sound isolation. Unfortunately, many in-ear models will come up short and force you to raise the volume to uncomfortable levels.
If you tend to listen to your headphones in loud environments and your sound isolation in your headphones is poor it forces you to max out the volume on your device and potentially damage your ears.
There are numerous reasons for poor sound isolation, including incorrect fit, bad design, and the actual style of headphones themselves. Most in-ear headphones usually have decent sound isolation, but they still tend to leak noise.
The conventional solution was to purchase expensive active noise-canceling headphones. However, these can be extremely pricey if you want any shred of quality.
Say hello to Ear Candi. A custom molded earbud solution. These silicon inserts will be custom fit to your ears to provide the best sound isolation possible.
They also have the benefit of keeping your earbuds in during running or working out.
Hopefully at least one of these methods helps you increase the volume of your headphones. There are no easy technical fixes for the actual headphones themselves. Please be careful whenever you increase the volume limit of your headphones. Anything above the safety threshold will have the potential to permanently damage your ears.
Any other ideas? Please leave them in the comments below to help out your fellow readers!