Eek out more sound on Win7 laptops

This falls in the category of why isn’t it the default?

Laptops generally have really tiny speakers and it can be tough to hear them sometimes. Sometimes the root problem is a poorly configured driver from the OEM, such as I had with my MacBook Pro 15” 2nd gen unibody. (The updated crystal audio driver in Boot Camp 3.1 or the slightly older one from Boot Camp 2.2 fixes this.) Even so, the audio has to be cranked all the way up to watch video through the laptop speakers.

It’s not just an Apple problem, either. My HP nw8440 was even more anemic in the volume department.

Windows 7 has a buried optimization that helps a lot: “Loudness Equalization”.  The feature description states that it “uses an understanding of human hearing to reduce perceived volume differences” which implies that it really isn’t making the speakers louder but doing something to make them seem louder. I don’t know how it works its magic but it really works.

Control Panel > Sound > Playback

Double-click the device for your built-in speakers

On the enhancements tab, select “Loudness Equalization” and nothing else.


The improvement is marked. It makes such a difference that I wonder why this feature isn’t turned on by default for built-in speakers.


One Response to Eek out more sound on Win7 laptops

  1. Moi says:

    I’m 99% sure Larry Osterman explained why this isn’t turned on by default a couple of years ago. A quick search failed to turn up the relevant post unfortunately. The feature probably had a different name on XP.

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