Volume control madness

Posted: May 15th, 2006 | Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

So watching a movie in Totem & the audio is too quiet – how should one resolve this. Not as quickly or easily as one might hope…

  1. The volume control inline to the cable on my headphones?
  2. The volume control buttons on the Thinkpad laptop, aparantly separate from the main soundcard mixer?
  3. The software volume control in Totem itself, presumably scaling in the GStreamer pipeline?
  4. The volume control applet on the GNOME panel, with its master volume control?
  5. The PCM output level in the soundcard mixer application?
  6. One of the other 10 or so soundcard mixer controls which can be enabled from the mixer preferences, half of which appear to be no-ops?

So, to simply increase the output level of the audio on the DVD I’m watching there’s a choice of 6 possible volume controls to tweak. If any one of these is set too low, it constricts the range afforded by the remaining controls. Why does each application need its own private volume control ? No one seriously listens to mp3s in Rhythmbox, and watches a DVD at the same time, so the master soundcard volume control will cope just fine. Likewise, the plethora of soundcard mixer controls is a complete waste of time – I don’t need to control the headphone volume jack independant of the builtin speakers. What the purpose is the PCM mixer control serving, besides providing another way to make stuff inaudible?

Constrast the situation with a Television. There’s just one volume control, whether I’m using headphones or the builtin speakers, whether its switched to the Cable box, games console, broadcast TV, or DVD player. Not 6, just one. Use a computer as my home media center ? No thanks, I like to spend time watching and listening, not playing hunt-the-volume-control.

2 Responses to “Volume control madness”

  1. Robert says:

    I think that individual application volume control is necessary, but probably not with the current implementation. for example, I just want that when I am watching a DVD, the volume level of all other applications automatically drops to a non disturbing levels

  2. Vic says:

    I agree 100% with you. I think that gnome, or mabe even lower in the stack (alsa maybe) should have a single API to change the percieved volume.

    An other configurations (maybe a XML lying in etc) could sort out how this single volume would map into the diverse mixers setting that are available in each card.

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