Quiet iPod? Blame the French.

If you’ve got a European iPod or iPod Mini, it’s crippled: thanks to various European countries’ attitudes to music players and their potential for hearing damage (apparently it’s a big issue in France), the volume output on EU iPods is much lower than it is on US models. The simplest way to address this is to get in-ear headphones, like these:

However, you’ll still encounter problems if you’re trying to listen to Mazzy Star on a main road, or if you want more volume when your iPod’s hooked up to your stereo or an iTrip*.

The easiest solution (on the Mac, at least) seems to be iPod Volume Booster.

This nifty bit of freeware enables you to boost the volume of the songs on your iPod and works flawlessly, although if you’ve got iTunes set to automatically sync songs with your iPod you’ll need to disable that feature or run iPod Volume Booster after every sync. It’s not perfect – if you add new songs and forget to boost them, you’ll end up with a mismatch of volume levels – but it’s a big improvement.

[Thanks to David for the tip]

* Not in the UK, of course, because the iTrip’s illegal under the Wireless Telegraphy Act.

6 thoughts on “Quiet iPod? Blame the French.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hello. A quick question: does this apply to the new Creative Zen Touch 20GB machine as well? Thanks for any info.

  2. Gary says:

    As far as I can tell, yes – the EU regs apply to all players. Certainly judging by the comments on Amazon for previous zens, low volume is a problem with them too.

    Might be worth giving Creative a quick call to check.

  3. Gary says:

    Possibly, but I can’t promise that it’ll work or that it won’t eat your player. According to Nomadworld.com, if you download the US firmware from the nomadworld site that will give you the US (ie, unrestricted) volume. However, what it doesn’t make clear is whether there will be any other effects, such as whether any purchased music will continue to work.

    Less dangerously, if your creative has a custom graphic EQ you can use that to boost the volume – simply find a setting that sounds good and then whack *every slider* up by the same amount. Provided the sliders are above the mid-way point, that’ll increase the overall volume – although you’ll probably encounter distortion if you whack them up too high.

    Another trick is to try a set of decent headphones, such as the Sony Fontopia ones that go into your ear canal rather than just sit in your lugs. They’re loud phones to start with, but because they’re in your ear canal they also block out a lot of ambient noise. I used ’em on a transatlantic flight as earplugs, and they worked a treat. So by blocking out noise they’ll make your music appear louder.

    Finally, you might want to consider a heaphone volume booster – Apple sells them for the iPod, and I’d imagine you’ll find them in places such as Maplins. They’re little boxes that plug in between your headphones and the player, boosting the volume. The idea’s that you can then share two sets of phones without losing volume, but if you only have one lot it might boost the overall volume. I say “might” because I’ve never used one, so I don’t know for sure.

    It’s worth pointing out that a firmware upgrade could fry your player and/or invalidate the manufacturer’s guarantee, and any successful volume boosting could lead to hearing damage. Be careful, and let me know how you get on.

  4. Anonymous says:

    thanks to gary! that US firmware upgrade for the jukebox works perfectly removes the volume output limit, files etc all remain intact too!

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