Universal volume limiting

On TV every commercial is louder than the programming and some channels are louder than others. On my computer every video or audio file I play is a different volume. I’m constantly changing the volume to accommodate. It’s a small thing but frankly I don’t understand why I can’t set one damn volume and have it stay that way.

What’s the technical story here?

Technically, the commercials aren’t any louder than the shows are; there are regulations that forbid it. However, they reach that maximum volume much more frequently than the shows do, so they average louder.

The TV doesn’t know how loud you want it to be. Your computer might be able to fix this, but you’d need to talk to a programmer.

The problem is that every TV show, every commercial, every sound or video file prepared for the internet, every program which has an audio portion is recorded by an engineer who has his own ideas about how things should sound. Some like to have the volume settings louder than others. When the TV station is switching from one source to another, there are bound to be differences in audio levels.

Some TV sets I have seen have “automatic level control” or some other similar sounding feature that attempts to keep a constant level, but even that doesn’t always work.

I agree it is annoying. Fortunately, you can fix the problem with the right hardware. Some TVs come with a volume normalizing feature, as well as some receivers. I know my Pioneer receiver has a “midnight” mode that will equalize the volume.

I have the same feature on my pioneer a/v reciever, but it doesn’t help very much at all in my opnion. If I change from CNN to MTV (bad taste quips aside) the audio is literally deafening.

What I’d really like is to set a decibel level and have my fancy decoding chips raise or lower the volume of any input to meet that level. Is that so much to ask for?

I suppose you could rig an audio compressor/limitor before your speakers. It would effectivley do what you request. Just set a threshold valud and any sound over that amplitude gets squashed. Of course, most audio compressors are much more complicated than that, but it’s just an idea.


There is software availible that can go through a collection of MP3s and make them all sound the same level.

yeah i know what you mean. the feature is really meant for when you are, say, watching a horror movie and it is really quiet then all of a sudden it is really loud. But I find it still helps when you are on the same channel and really loud commercials come one.

don’t watch many commercials these days, though, due to my tivo.