Portable CD Players: Why So Quiet???

At the tender age of 20, I’ve had 2 Panasonics and one Sony Portable CD Player. With each of them, sound was an issue; quality was fine, but volume was inexplicably low. On both Panasonics, the maximum volume for the CD player has been just as loud as I would want in a completely quiet room (unless I was really into the song), but was woefully inadequate, say, on the Greyhound to Albany (or the F Train to Brooklyn). The Sony was loud enough for the bus, but just barely, and only if I had headphones that covered the whole ear.

Portable cassette players (a.k.a. “Walkmen”) don’t have this problem; their max volume is always louder than anyone w/ decent hearing could want. Also, the radio on my latest Panasonic is appropriately loud . . . but the CDs whisper. What’s up with this? Also, if anyone has any ear-bleeding suggestions for an AM/FM Radio-CD Player w/ Shock Protection, I’d be glad to hear it. Thanks, etc.

You have probably already consdered this but check to make sure you are not using the “line out” jack that exists on some CD players along with the headphone out jack. The Sony CD players I have used have had plenty of volume via the headphone jack all the up to “ouch” level.

As a suggestion (and please don’t take this the wrong way) you might also consider having an audiologist check your hearing frequency response and have your ears checked for wax blockage. This happens more often than you might think.

Try turning off the shock protection. That kills the volume level on my Sony.

Sony players also have a volume limiting switch. Cheap head/earphones can also be a culprit but take Astro’s advice to get your ears checked

Also (if you haven’t already) you may want to try those earphones that go into your ear; the little ear-bud things. I’ve used them with my Panasonic and have had no problems even on a trip in the engine-noise-infested U-Haul.

      • I don’t have any portable CD players, but the three MP3 players I heard all had this problem. All of them only used one AA battery though. The one I got uses it up pretty fast; would have been nicer to have it use 2, be louder and be just a bit bigger. - MC

Get a CD player that goes up to 11.


Hmm, on my Sony D-173, the line-out has the exact same volume but Bass Boost isn’t available. When I plug headphones into the regular hole and the line out, the volume is roughly halved.

My Rio PMP300 was fine volume-wise too.

Have you only tried one pair of headphones? Use another pair and see if that works. You should also let someone else listen, that’ll help you determine whether the problem lies in an ear or two.

I have mild tinnitis, and between 4 and 6 on my Sony is about right.

My hearing’s perfect, I know I’m using the right jack, and I’ve tried several pairs (pair?) of headphones. Anti-Shock hasn’t affected volume on these, and noise reduction is off.

Admittedly, I prefer my music loud (there’s nothing quite like blasting “Daydream Believer”), so I can see how what I consider barely adequate could be seen as “too fuckin’ loud” by someone else. Still, there is certainly a disparity between CD and casette volume, and I was just wondering why. I suppose it would require more power, and Discmen are battery hogs as it is, but better to have good, loud music for 12 hours than frustratingly inadequate music for 20.