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!


Dennis Lloyd

I'm a passionate, long-time lover of Apple products, and was a civil draftsman and graphic designer before creating the iLounge web site. My prior projects include work for The Los Angeles Times', and the company Creative Domain, where I developed websites for clients including Columbia Pictures, Disney, Fox Studios, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers. As the Publisher of iLounge, I direct the site's community forums, photo galleries, iPod User Group, and general business affairs, which have grown under my watch to over sixteen million page views every month. I'm happily married with one daughter, one dog (Rocket the Wonderdog), one cat (Ferris), many iPods, iPhones, iPads, and two turntables.