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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There is no such EU law!!!

As Apple states on its website (see firmware update 1.2.2) the volume cap was introduced due to a _French_ law (which might even be invalid thanks to EU legislation).

So why you’re bashing the EU?!?

Posted by Tim Sattler on June 19, 2003 at 2:01 AM (CDT)


For Christopher:

New iPods (10/15/30 GB) have software version 2.0.

Version 2.0 is not avaible for download because Apple doesn’t want “old” ipod users to get (freely) the features included in version 2.0.

Apple wants old ipod users to buy new ipods for getting the enhancements.

You can restore your ipod to a version previous than 1.2.2 ONLY if you have a scroll-wheel ipod (5-10 Gb).
Remember that versions previous to 1.2.2 DON’t work with windows (unless you use third-part software just like ephpod or something….)

Posted by trive on June 19, 2003 at 3:10 AM (CDT)


@Todd Fiedler

I’m not criticizing the Americans for picking on Europeans, I’m blaming Apple for generalizing Europe by thinking it’s the same as France. It is not only a shame for Apple, it will hurt there income as well.

And you should’ve left the ‘shut up’ part away. It made your comments barely worth reading.

Posted by Socrates on June 19, 2003 at 7:05 AM (CDT)


From Todd Fiedler:

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

If I may, this is exactly the contrary. There is no European law, which, because it is *European*, would be any stricter than any other national law.

‘Giving up’ to the EU is most of the time about harmonising the rules across a number of different countries. For some this means strickter rules than before, for others less. Sweeds would considered any EU environmental law as not strong enough (because they already have very drastic laws regarding this), but Italians would still struggle to cope with the strenghtened demand to be environmentally friendly.

The diversity of laws in Europe (not to be confused with European laws) is the reason why I, in Belgium, could not buy my iPod in the UK (where it is 100 euro cheaper).

To go back (or nearer) to the iPod issue, apparently the problem here comes from one country which has a rule, so instead of adapting to 15 or 20 different countries, Apple went for the strict rule. It could not afford that with the US because 1. anything dealing with ‘freedom’ is better left untouched, and 2. the market is so big, efforts are not waisted (obviously).

Trive, thank you for the details. I had heard of it, but did not make the connection. How unfair of Apple.

Posted by Christopher on June 19, 2003 at 8:48 AM (CDT)


Hi Christopher,

Just a short answer for your question regarding the dB output of the Apple earbuds.

I don’t know what the official specs for the earbuds are, but let me put it this way…

No speaker/headphone driver ever made can boast a 100% efficiency rating.

I would say that the electrical efficiency of the Apple earbuds is probably 85% or quite near.  And that does not take in to account the obvious problem with the fact that the earbud’s driver is not directly connected to your eardrums!

So for argument’s sake, if the earbuds had an efficiency of 100%, then by the time you take things like, the way your ear is shaped, how far you push the earbuds in to your ear, the length of the ear canal, and the thickness of the skin that makes your ear, then you can expect the 100% to drop to about 85% - 90% of the sound that comes out of the driver, to actually hit your eardrum.

I would guess that the sound pressure level that actually hits your eardrum from an iPod outputting it’s maximum rated output (96dB) will be somewhere in the region of 80dB - 85dB Peak pressure level.

I use a set of Sony MDR-EX51SL earbuds, and they are not as efficient as the Apple’s, but sound a hell of a lot better!  So if the Apple’s are outputting 85dB, then the Sony’s are outputting arround 82dB maximum pressure level.  Not exactly high, is it!

Posted by Tony on June 19, 2003 at 9:10 AM (CDT)


Dumbs asses!  Pay all that money for a piece of crap product that can’t even do what it’s design to do…namely play Mp3s at a decent sound level.

You’re all brainwashed by Apple and get what you deserve.  IPod is a lemon!!!  Suckers!

Posted by Jo-Jo Chintoh on June 19, 2003 at 3:19 PM (CDT)


go to itune hilight all of your songs on your i pod then go to get info and increase the volume adjusments

Posted by Phill in Texas on June 20, 2003 at 11:14 AM (CDT)


That’s not gonna cut it!

They should fix this defective player immediately!  Temporary solutions that hardly do anything are not going solve this long-term problem.

I can’t believe I paid nearly 500 quid for an mp3 player that a little kid couldn’t even hear!  Really, even my daughter’s Teletubbies CD sounds too low on my Ipod.

Posted by Calvin on June 20, 2003 at 12:51 PM (CDT)


Hi all,

I’ve installed update 2.0.1 yesterday and alleluia! the sound cap seems to be off (or set much higher). I don’t have to listen to my iPod at 95% as before. Around 60%, it is already more than ok.

For info, I downloaded the update through software update, so if there was meant to be any restrictions for Europe, it would have picked it up.

This closes this issue, doesn’t it?

Posted by Christopher on June 23, 2003 at 4:38 AM (CDT)


its an european gen 3 ?
you are the only persons i know wich the update seem to remove the cap .
are there some other persons for wich it works ?

Posted by Obside on July 21, 2003 at 11:28 AM (CDT)


what a discusssion! i can go into any store and buy a p.a. system if i feel like ruining my ears. i can even do so in france. i can buy fast cars all over the world and it will be my responsibility to obey speed-limits.
.. and personally - i like it loud sometimes! sorry!

now what wonders me, if the cap is actually active in my ipod or not. about every portable device i got into my hands in the last years were _not_ actually able to drive mid-sized headphones. two reasons behind this: kids use earbuds and most portables work with two 1.5v batteries. the ipod should have at least 5v, since it uses a regular harddrive and should easily be able to produce a very high volume.

a volume knob should in my opinion not reach the scales end but should start distorting before. everyones home hifi is doing right that. that assures that i can turn up a silent passage.

imagine someone would sell a porsche that makes 80km/h only, lol.

Posted by atom on July 24, 2003 at 10:51 AM (CDT)


I don’t know any ipoders around me. Some have nomads, some have that other stuff there, starts with an ‘a’ I think, you can look DVDs and such.
Anyway, I got the update directly through software updates on my Mac.

Posted by Christopher on July 24, 2003 at 1:33 PM (CDT)


Does anyone get the feeling a few Apple employees are trying sway the argument here? I bought my 3G from John Lewis, I was horrified at the pathetic volume level and before you say anything there is nothing wrong with my hearing!! When I took it back to John Lewis, they told me that of the 25 they had sold at that time, 11 had been returned for this very reason. So there IS a big problem with both Apple products, Apple policy and Apple attitude. Its incredible that they delete the posts from their forum (mine included - they then threatened to take action against me which I said I would welcome - heard nothing).

If it was NOT an issue why would they delete the posts?

I’ve since bought a Zen, a little bigger maybe, but 60gb, massive volume increase AND better tonal range (awesome bass compared to ipod) makes up for that. The alternative was to buy an old 2G from my mate - plenty of volume, but when he heard the 3G he decided not to sell (funny that eh?)

If you are not affected by the cap or are happy to put up with it - dont try to suppress others for speaking out.

I thought Microsoft were bad - Apple have eclipsed them with American arrogance.

Posted by Tony on September 11, 2003 at 8:22 AM (CDT)


Yep, my ipods voice is low too… If they care about my ears THEN they should have put an automatic volume limiter and set it on by default, gave me THE OPTION to set it off. By this way they should have also avoided future law cases. Bleh, whatever it’s better than my PSP at least. The worst is PSP in this race. You should hear it (as if you can hear)  :)    HE HEHE HE!!!

Posted by Gerhant on January 30, 2006 at 1:40 PM (CST)


are all these people complaining of low volume from the UK? becuases when my ipod nano is full whack the headphones shake and i cant here anything other than my i-pod wherever i am, since i bought mine from Dixons down hempsted valley,Kent i would presume that it would be under EU law and would have the volume cap but if it can reack that volume with the cap i dont see what you’re all complaining about.:S

Posted by craig on April 25, 2006 at 2:30 PM (CDT)


i meant to type reach on that bottom line not reack lol just in case any1 didnt know wot i wz on about

Posted by craig on April 25, 2006 at 2:35 PM (CDT)


ok im seriously pissed with this soundcap and i just bought the ipod nano 2 gen and gopod doesnt recognise it so i cant get rid of the soundcap plz has ANYONE managed to get the stupid souncap of the SECOND GEN IPOD NANO if you have tell me how plzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by alvaro on February 8, 2007 at 5:10 PM (CST)


Not a fan of mac products, and haven’t drunk the company kool aid. We got my dad a ipod mini (in the US) and the volume sucks. He’ll never drown out my mother with this.

Posted by Jasper on December 13, 2007 at 3:27 PM (CST)


I can tell you I am very disappointed with my ipod nano volume! it’s absolutely ridiculous in comparison with my old mini! I used to use passive speaker on the beach with the mini and you could hear it fine while sunbathing, but I cannot use them with the new nano!!! you can’t hear a thing!! I am so upset also cause my terms of returning are long overdue…

But I can certainly tell everyone I know not to buy this authentic piece of S**T excuse my French!

Posted by Arianna on July 13, 2008 at 4:01 AM (CDT)


Sound is limited on the (EU) classic iPod. There are tools that can workaround it for example Eupod. This program however only handles the music and not the movies. And I especially need it for the movies I have put on my iPod. These are ripped DVD’s and some downloaded stuff. I chanded the soundvolume for the files to +100% in iTunes. I wanted to use my iPod for traveling but the sounds inside a plane are louder then the iPod. You will need subtitles in order to follow the movie.

Posted by woco on September 6, 2009 at 4:44 AM (CDT)

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