Q: Is there any way to make all of the songs on your iPod play at the same volume level? I find that many of my songs play at dramatically different volumes as I move between them, and I’m always having to adjust the volume on my iPod between tracks.
A: Yes, this can be done through a feature in iTunes and on the iPod known as “Sound Check.”
The “Sound Check” setting on the iPod itself can be found under the iPod’s Settings menu, but will not actually do anything unless iTunes has written the necessary sound adjustment information into your actual song files. Sound Check does not actually adjust the “real” volume of your music files—it merely adds in adjustment information that can be used by iTunes and the iPod to dynamically adjust the volume during playback.
To enable Sound Check in iTunes, simply go into your iTunes preferences and select the “Playback” tab:
Near the top, you will see the option to enable Sound Check. Simply click the box beside this option, and then click OK to save your settings.
The first time you enable Sound Check, iTunes will take a few minutes to go through your iTunes library and analyze your existing music files to add the sound check information to them. This progress will be shown in the normal iTunes status area at the top of your iTunes window.
New files you add to your iTunes library while Sound Check is enabled in iTunes will have this same analysis performed on them as they are imported.
You can examine the Sound Check information for a given track in your iTunes library by selecting that track and choosing File, Get Info from the iTunes menu. The “Summary” tab will show the volume adjustment information that is stored in that track:
Once the sound check analysis has completed, you will need to resync your iPod to update the sound check information on your iPod. Note that if you are using manual management of your iPod, you will need to manually recopy all of your music files back onto your iPod for the sound check information to be updated on the iPod.
Once this has been done, simply ensure that Sound Check is enabled under the iPod’s Settings menu, and all of your music should play back at a uniform volume level. If you find that you do not like this adjusted volume for certain tracks, you can simply turn off Sound Check on the iPod, and tracks will all play at their normal level.
Note as well that once the initial analysis has completed in iTunes, turning off Sound Check in iTunes itself does not remove any of the sound check information from your tracks, it merely tells iTunes to ignore this information when playing your tracks back, and to not bother adding this information to any new tracks that you import. Further, this does not affect sound check on the iPod itself for any existing tracks. Therefore, turning Sound Check on at a later time will use the information already in the existing tracks and only perform a quick analysis for any tracks that may be missing this information (ie, tracks that were added while Sound Check was disabled in iTunes).