Warning: Don’t buy an European iPod, its volume is too low | iLounge News


Warning: Don’t buy an European iPod, its volume is too low

The NEW iPods do have the volume cap that was introduced in the iPod firmware back to version 1.2.x already built into them. But Apple seems to have overdone it: the European iPod’s max-volume is so low, that you can’t use your iPod in crowded places like a subway or bus. You simply can’t hear the music at an efficient level! According to user’s tests the volume is about 25-30% lower then with the US version.

But not only the headphone jack is capped, also the line out: That means, that if you connect your iPod to a stereo at home or in the car, you have to turn the volume of that stereo way up what in many cases is causing sound-distortions.

There are plenty of people complaining about that on the net. What is striking is that Apple simply deletes those threads from their discussion board after a day or two.

There are many other bugs in the 2.0 firmware, but I’m sure Apple will address them. I’m also sure they will NOT change the volume cap as they officially refuse to comment on that in a detailed juristic way.

  • Apple does NOT inform about this volume cap on the iPod webpages.
  • Apple technicians told us on the phone that this cap is irreversible.
  • Apple claims European law to force them to implement this cap. This is NOT true! In fact it is a French law that is not valid for the rest of Europe. Also, there are people (including myself) who studied law who strongly think that this French law is against EU-law due to a EU principle called mutual-allowance (if you are interested, I’ll explain it in more depth).
  • It’s not about a law: it is about Apple being to “lazy” to find a way to provide European users except French with a different firmware. And don’t tell me about costs. I studied economy (as well as law) so I know enough about costs. I can think about 20 different ways to provide us with a new firmware that don’t interfere with French law and don’t cost a billion.
  • Now other personal stereo / mp3 player or whatever found in Europe (or even France) has a max volume that is that low. So Apple hase overdone it.
  • Until now, no one has found a way to put an US firmware on the European iPod.
  • However, there is one way to get around that problem to a certain degree: Select all tracks in iTunes, hit apple-i and then increase the volume-adjustment slider to about 80-100%. Re-sync the songs to your iPod. This will increase the volume on the iPod substantially. BUT: many users suffered from sever sound-distortions after doing so.
  • If you discuss this matter on the Apple discussion board, you will get plenty replies within a short period. Be sure to have subscribed to your topic by e-mail, cause Apple will delete it within a day or two.
  • If you have just bought your iPod over the net and want to return it, you always can return it within 14 days of your purchase according to EU-law without the need of mentioning any reasons.
  • However, if that 2 week period is over, I suggest doing the following:
  • Call Apple and complain. Some users had success and Apple took back their iPods.
  • If you want to fight for your rights, here is how to argue: “You have bought the iPod to use it in everyday life like an average mp3 player. Because Apple does NOT state on their web-pages otherwise, you can assume the iPod to have average features of an average mp3 player. Regarding the output volume, this is clearly not the case as can easily be proven. Most of other mp3 players sold Europe or French (in fact: 100% of those I tested) play at a substantial higher volume. Thus, the iPod does not have the features you had the right (!) to assume and clearly works not 100% as it is advertised. This gives you the right to return the iPod to your dealer as soon as you find out about that problem within an reasonable period that is not limited to 2 weeks.” Good luck.

To conclude:

I do think the iPod is a great product and I’m not returning my iPod for sure! It is the best mp3 player out there, in terms of style, use, functionality and simple joy of having it.

But Apple did make a huge mistake with that volume cap. A mistake that bad, that it really does effect the use of a very expensive mp3 player in a intolerable way. Heck even my Eur 30 Siemens mobile phone mp3 player plays louder and that was even made in and for Europe!

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Thanks Drewpy, that confirms what I had found when testing the dock-out in comparison with the ipod-out.

King Aragorn - if you heard no difference when using the dock-out in the car, then perhaps your car audio setup isn’t right? I’m not trying to be insulting, just stating a fact. When I compare the volume of output from the dock and the ipod its astonishing the difference it makes.

One thing though, when I first plugged the speakers into the dock, I didn’t push the jack in all the way. This caused the sound to be very low, and distorted the sound in such a was as to make it sound like the music was coming from the end of a long corridor (ie faint and echo-y).

I will test the dock output in my car this evening, but I see now reason why it should perform any differently there in comparison to my speakers at home…

Posted by DaN13L on June 17, 2003 at 6:42 AM (CDT)


Although I do not own an iPod yet and thus have not been able to experience its volume, I’m quite worried about this volume capping in Europe. Isn’t it just madness that there is such a thing? Why wouldn’t Europeans have the right to enjoy the same loudness as Americans do? I agree with King Aragorn that this could be a heck of a problem when listening to classical music in somewhat noisy environments. Bye bye Ravel, Apple won’t let me listen to the first ten minutes of your Bol

Posted by Socrates on June 17, 2003 at 7:39 AM (CDT)


Sorry if i was a bit rude. Just people get so upset about the tiniest little problem with the iPod these days its rediculous. If the volumes too low to listen to certain types of music, in certain places, there are ways around it. It’s not something thats a really huge problem that you can’t learn to live with and still be perfectly happy with your iPod.

Firmware update!? “Apple technicians told us on the phone that this cap is irreversible.” You say. If its irreversible….what the hell is a firmware update going to do?

Your argument to return the iPod appears to be based on the iPod being advertised as a day to day MP3 player, and it not being that because of its supposedly pathetic output volume. This is something that is based on no legal grounding. They never advertise the iPod as being anything but what it is. However you do have the right to return it if it does not suit, as you stated. I don’t doubt Apple will take it back, just that they have no obligation to.

Classical music in loud places, you heathen. Get some isolating cans at least :)

Posted by Alex Stapleton on June 17, 2003 at 8:45 AM (CDT)


To be a bit more concise about why i don’t like this post. Its flagrant scare mongering. “Oh my god the iPod has a “low” output volume i better get an Archos/Jukebox instead!!!” Telling us not to buy an iPod in the EU merely because of the volume level is pretty rediculous. Telling us that the volume level is capped, and that some people may have problems with that however, is acceptable.

Posted by Alex Stapleton on June 17, 2003 at 9:58 AM (CDT)


I don’t understand some of the peoples comments regarding this issue…

If you pay

Posted by Tony on June 17, 2003 at 10:35 AM (CDT)


Slightly loud version of events tony, but none the less true… (pardon my punn, hehe)

Posted by b0f on June 17, 2003 at 12:51 PM (CDT)


Except for the severe overreaction I agree with Tony. Apple-lovers have always been unequivocal content with their Apple stuff, a bit of (self-)criticism would be to their credit. When a product has a signifigant flaw there has to be discussion (and a solution), especially when the flaw is ridiculously bound to frontiers.

Posted by Socrates on June 17, 2003 at 12:52 PM (CDT)


Someone send me the US v2.0 Firmware and ill do some prodding around to see if it is fixable or not, via firmware.

Posted by Alex Stapleton on June 17, 2003 at 1:26 PM (CDT)


Hmmm, I’ve noticed that my 3rd gen 10GB iPod produces wierd effects when the graphics equalizer is used, especially at higher volumes. If perform tests (lineout, headphone etc) don’t forget to disable it.

It would be great if iPod could use the bass expansion algorythm that Sony devices use. My MiniDisc player etc sound really excellent with high end cans (Sennheiser 590’s) but the iPod is washed out, and the eq settings introduce unwanted distortion. Yeah, I love my iPod ... but i’ll love it even more when the volume/eq issues are sorted out.

Posted by Carl on June 17, 2003 at 3:27 PM (CDT)


Th writer is correct, the output of the new iPeods is lower than any other personal stereo I have ever had. It is also very expensive for what it does. No-one should be suggesting that iPod buyers go to even more expense just to hear the thing in the same situation other personal stereos take in their stride.
I returned my new iPod weeks ago as it was too quiet, both the headphones and the line out. I could not wait for Apple to fix it, and judging by my previous experience of Apple’s customer service I was pretty sure that they wouldn’t bother anyway.
I am sticking with my old iPod with the old version of the software until a decent MP3 player comes along with a headphone out and a line that have normal volume levels.

For me the EU iPod failed 50% of the time in it’s main function: playing audible music.

I am glad to see that someone is making a fuss about it at last. Apple should not be able to get away with the way they treat their (strangely) loyal customers.

Posted by Staff on June 17, 2003 at 4:20 PM (CDT)



I live in the states and use a second generation ipod, but this may work.  I read that if you put all the settings of your mac to USA then it will fix itself, this means changing the timer, license and so and so forth.  It’s definitely worth a try.  right?

Posted by Ian on June 18, 2003 at 12:15 AM (CDT)


Okay, first up, my hearing is fine. I don’t have problems hearing any other source and my other portable equipment is fine at about 3/4 volume. Usually just under.

However, my docking iPod isn not fine. I can mostly manage with it at full volume but if there are any slightly quiet songs, I can’t hear them and I just can’t use the EQ function at all because if the volume is okay on the MP3, it becomes distorted when I use the EQ setting.

Here’s another good example. I put the iPod through my computer speakers. To get a decent volume out of them I have to put the iPod on full volume AND the PC speakers.

If I do the same with my CD Walkman, it’s deafening! My old solidstate MP3 player was fine volume wise.

All Apple need to do is have one extra setting in the Settings menu to have the volume cap on or off. It’s just a firmware upgrade not rocket science! As for costing more to test it, that’s just tough! They shouldn’t be selling the thing if it’s deficient.


Posted by Nomad01 in England on June 18, 2003 at 3:00 AM (CDT)


Hum, I’ve had my new 15Gb iPod for two days only, and did not know about this issue. Now I understand why, from the very first song I listened to, I had to put my volume near 95%.

I think I’ll try to get the earplugs mentioned above.

Posted by Christopher on June 18, 2003 at 4:52 AM (CDT)


I have to say that I really have a strong disliking towards most of the long-term Apple “customers”.  They have an arrogence that is just breathtaking.  They give Apple a bad name, with their attitude of put up, or shut up.  And by being like that, help Apple get away with things that most companies can only dream of trying.

Why people get like that is beyond me.

My way of thinking is that when you pay your money, regardless of the manufacturer or retailler, and especially when the the item is only designed to do one thing, if it fails in that task, then the item is usless.  And should be fixed, or at worst, refunded.

I am a first time Apple buyer, and I don’t think I will ever trust them again.  And certainly, will not be buying anything else from them in the futre.

I for one, will be gob-smacked, if Apple actually fix most of the problems with the 3rd gen iPod, and there is quite a list of “bugs” that need addressing!

Posted by Tony on June 18, 2003 at 8:24 AM (CDT)


Volume down is true only on touchpad-wheel ipods (2g ipods), the ones who have 1.2.2.

Apple told costumers about the volume-down only if you update from version version 1.2 to 1.2.2.

Posted by trive on June 18, 2003 at 11:53 AM (CDT)


The volume cap is like 8 decibles from 104 and 96 if I remember correctly.  Goodness, that’s louder than a vacuum cleaner.  Anyone listening at louder than 90 decibels is risking hearing loss if listening at that loudness for extended periods of time.  If the complaint is that it isn’t loud enough and you are listening at louder than 90 decibels, fine, don’t complain to Apple when you need to buy a hearing aid, or furthermore, learn sign language.  To learn what decible levels are safe, visit:


Posted by gopher on June 18, 2003 at 1:36 PM (CDT)


Gopher, I sugest that you read up on some basic electronics before coming out with s**t like that!

Just because the iPod’s internal Amp is rated at 106dB, and has been limited to 96dB, does not mean to say that the earphones are giving that much out!

Also, do you KNOW how the dB system works?  I think not, after reading your “post”.

And another point that you have totally missed, is the fact that, if the recording was made at say, a peak level of -1dB, which is common for compressed pop/rock music, then you MIGHT get somewhere near your 96dB figure, but not all music is recorded at the same level.

You try listening to some classical, or other high quality recordings first.  THEN come back and read your mindless drivel, after you have found out that setting the volume control to 100% is not enough to hear most quiet passages of classical music, especially whilst out and about.

Do some more research before “contributing”! Fool

Posted by Tony on June 18, 2003 at 1:50 PM (CDT)


Wow, could we please all be civilized. I’d like to see some constructive arguments. If anybody has links to Apple documentation or independent docs on the subject, please provide the link.

Tony, you say the output level of the earphones do not give the same Amp than what has been registered. what level would that be then?

Trive, you talk about this being on iPod 1.2.2 only. When I look at the About screen on the iPod I see version 2.0. An the updater I downloaded lately from Apple said 1.3?... Which version do I have in your opinion?

A word about Mac lovers. I’m a last year switcher and it took me some time to get into things, but I must say that I really appreciate very very much my Powerbook. I really think it is an extraordinary piece of equipment. I use it now preferrably to my PC. However, I haven’t been disappointed by XP either (which we are deploying at work and which I have on my home desktop).

It is true people should try to simply express their opinion without trying to impose them to others, and we readers have to understand that they are nothing more than personal opinions.

Posted by Christopher on June 18, 2003 at 4:09 PM (CDT)


Recently bought a Goodmans GMB20/2 jukebox, 20gb Mp3 etc player, when i tried the lineout on my hifi it required near 100% volume ( PS2 required about 25% ) and so produced a distinct hiss, is low volume a more general problem?

The player was returned and i’ve ordered a 15Gb iPod, if this has the same problem i’m going to buy a nice cheap, low tech, compact cassette player!

Posted by simon on June 18, 2003 at 4:38 PM (CDT)


>>Why wouldn’t Europeans have the right to enjoy the same loudness as Americans do?

The short answer: Because you are willing ceeding your rights to the EU.

The somewhat longer answer: You choose to allow the EU to dictate every aspect of your life from basic individual rights to what kind of food you can buy, then you (not you specifically) criticise Americans (and others) that point out the inane bureacracy of the EU and the loss of freedom it will bring, and then you whine when a company ships a product that meets those very laws, complaining with the typical “why’s every American company always picking on us euros?!”.

Shut up already.

Posted by Todd Fiedler on June 18, 2003 at 8:42 PM (CDT)

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