I need some advice on how to increase the volume of my music

I hope it is acceptable for me to post this kind of question in this forum. I don’t see any other forum that would deal with technology - specifically smart phones.

My problem is that I love to listen to music using Bluetooth headphones but I just can’t get the volume loud enough to satisfy me.

I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 and I listen to music using a pair of Sony MDR-ZX330BT headphones.

My problem is that I can’t get the volume to go as loud as I’d like. At full volume, it is very loud. But I’d still like it to go a little louder and I’d like to ask a few questions.

Is the volume of the music primarily due to the headphones or the smart phone?

For those of you who may not know, the Sony MDR-ZX330BT headphones are Bluetooth (wireless) and I bought them for approx $100. Here are the specs:

Sony sells more expensive Bluetooth headphones. Their MDR10RBT sell for about $250. Would those headphones likely give me louder volume?


There are also other headphones for sale for $500 like these:


When I look in Specifications for headphones, I can’t see anything that would indicate just how high the volume would be. With speakers, they list the “watts” and that seems to indicate just how much volume the speakers will produce.

But how can I guage how loud a pair of headphones will be?

Or do I need to be looking at a different smart phone instead?

Perhaps I should add that I listen to music on my phone using a wonderful app called PowerAmp. It has several settings that control the maximum volume. I have explored them all.

There is one setting called “Preamp Replay Gain” and that makes a huge difference to the maximum volume. But I have set it at maximum and when I increase the volume past a certain level, the sound begins to crackle.

I should also say there is a feature in Poweramp called “Limit” and it controls the limit of the volume to prevent crackling. I have tried it both on and off and it works fine. But I still can’t get the volume to go as loud as I’d like.

Can anyone give me any info? Do I need to buy new headphones? Or maybe a new smart phone? I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get more volume.

It isn’t an issue with your phone. Since the phone is providing the signal over Bluetooth it is in digital form, and there is nothing that relates to power supplied by the phone. It is simply signal.

Your app Poweramp is clearly some form of compressor (the Limit control is dead givaway). It essentially increases the amplitude of the quieter parts so they are at a level similar to the louder parts. More than this is probably introduces some carefully controlled low order harmonic distortion that the ear/brain tends to perceive as extra loudness. Add some crafting of the frequency curves and you can get the perception of louder music.

However, non of this addresses the limit that the actual headphones are what delivers real acoustic power. Here you almost certainly will discover that all the manufacturers will have designed their headphones not to exceed safe limits of acoustic power delivered to your ears. As they embody the entire reproduction chain from digital signal, to drivers, they can fully control this. It is very unlikely that there is any mechanism buy which this can be overridden. Manufacturers are not keen on being the subject of litigation from users who suffer hearing loss.

Move to a more conventional wired headphone and you will have much more freedom to blast your ears. Much better quality too, but be prepared to pay.

Clean your ears, or have your doctor clean your ears.

If you’re listening is a quiet environment, and a high end Bluetooth headset won’t get the music loud enough I think I know what your problem is.

IMO, you have noise-induced hearing loss. The music sounds too soft because you’re slowly going deaf (but at an ever increasing rate). This is probably a result of listening to too much too loud music for years. Or perhaps occupational exposure to loud sustained noise (like me).

Start by going to an audiologist. They’ll be able to assess just how bad your hearing is now and is likely to become going forward.

Being deaf or nearly so in your 70s is a tremendous handicap. Avoid it if you can.

Replay Gain doesn’t necessarily increase the volume of the music; it only normalizes its perceived loudness—that is, it tries to make each track, or each album, play at the same volume, relative to other tracks or albums. For it to even work, the files you’re playing need to have been specially processed by a program which psychoacoustically analyzes the music and applies a gain adjustment tag to the file. Some music players (such as PowerAmp, evidently) can read and interpret these adjustment tags, though most of them can’t analyze the files and write the adjustment tags themselves.

Since you report that enabling use of Replay Gain makes a difference for you, you should probably ensure that all the files in your library have Replay Gain tags applied. If PowerAmp can’t do this automatically, you should find and use a tool to process your whole library. (I use the mp3gain and vorbisgain command-line tools, though there are undoubtedly more user-friendly ones.)

If you’re having trouble hearing the music I suggest beginning to listen to any music at a mid-level setting… This meaning any point in between your lowest and highest volume setting. Give your ears time to adjust to the level of noise so that you can eventually learn to tune into the different parts of each song (i.e. - the bass, the rifts, the changes in a persons pitch, a persons range of voice). Loud music is awesome (agreed), but if you are not enjoying or able to hear your music eventually you will blow speakers attached to your device. Its expensive for a person to “rock out”. If you’re craving loud music go to a club or become a DJ; maybe hit up a dive bar that has a juke box (particularly the new ones that search online or have apps that give you the ability to play music from your phone - this usually costs money, but the experience is worth it for music lovers) or system to plug your device into. Assuming the bar keep is cool with this you shouldn’t have trouble hearing your music with optimum quality.
If you have off set your treble and balance settings then learn to adjust those to your liking. If the volume is the only issue again I stress that you train your ears to listen to quiet music so that whatever capability your ears still have you can savor even longer. Once you are able to find your favorite catch/note/bass/rift/etc… again then you can enjoy loud music again without compromise. I find myself turning off my music more often even to listen to the sounds around me so that Im not drowning in a clash of noise I used to enjoy as music.
Maybe try speakers (BOSE are the best all around). Some are even made to fit in a backpack or suitcase so that you don’t have to store them and deal with tangled cords. Look into sound controlled technology. There are speakers that are built (very expensively I might add) to manipulate the way a sound is delivered and adjusts whatever is being played to a listeners preference (i.e. - ambiance).

Hope this helps… :wink:

I don’t know about “all around”, but they certainly have the best marketing.

Well first off you say if you increase the volume too much it crackles.
This is a sure sign that you are over driving the earphones and will cause damage to them.
As stated you certainly are doing permanent damage to your ears and this could be contributing to your lack of loudness.
The other side is that playing earphones that loud will intrude on other people and is antisocial.
You could end up with your earphones inserted where the sun don’t shine!

Have your PCP refer you to a good ENT doctor.

I wear a hearing aid in my left ear, my right isn’t worth addressing. If you have hearing loss there are headphones or aid/headphone combos that can work well. I didn’t realize how bad my hearing loss was until I was diagnosed.

Wow! Thank you so much. Seems to me that you have provided some incredibly knowledgeable and valuable information.

I wish I knew if you were joking or not because I have been having some noticeable buildup of wax in my left ear. But only in my left ear.

I am scheduled to see my doctor in 2 weeks and I will ask him to take a look for me.

Thank you.

I can’t believe that because I have never listened to very loud music before. I have never gone to a concert where the band blasts the volume and the only times I have listened to headphones before, I never listened to them very loudly.

It is only recently that I’ve discovered some artists whose music just sounds fabulous when played loudly. For example: Avicii and Bruno Mars.

I’m interested in headphones and not speakers because I can’t turn up the volume very loud when listening to spakers.

Are you referring to Bose speakers or headphones? I know that Bose makes both and I find their speakers very weird because they do not faithfully reproduce stereo sound. Instead they “throw” different instruments to different weird locations in the attempt to make the music sound exciting. But the producers of the music never intended the horns to sound like they are coming from the ceiling (for example) and for that reason, I just find Bose speakers to be very strange. I have never liked them.

I listen to music on headphones and not speakers specifically because I do not want to disturb my neighbors. I have tried to hear the sound coming from my headphones when a friend is wearing them and I can’t hear a sound.

So, I don’t feel that is an issue for me. But thank you anyway.

Exposure to loud noise is not the only cause of hearing loss. If you are insured, there is no reason not to go to an audiologist, if for no other reason than to establish a baseline for you to compare after years of listening to Bruno Mars.

I’ve only listened to about six of his songs and only about three times each. But I think you are right. It pays to be cautious and I don’t care how much it might cost to see an audiologist. Thank you.

The headphone output on my phone has a volume control. So the phone is capable of transmitting a Bluetooth signal at any arbitrary volume. As you said, it doesn’t require power to do so. I am guessing that the upper limit of the volume control is the “let’s not get sued” limit. I’ll bet it could be hacked.

I have an LG G3, and I often use wired headphones (which does require power from the phone). Every time I turn the volume up past the default with headphones plugged in it gives me an on-screen warning that listening to loud music can cause permanent hearing damage, although it’s really not all that loud.

I get that warning as well.