Feature request: auto volume level

  • 10 June 2016
  • 5 replies

Userlevel 1
Hi, would like to say that I am really happy with recently purchased Play:5 2nd edition - love the ease of use and sound quality. I am using only streaming media (Spotify and di.fm radiostation) and Sonos has some room for improvement there in general usability.

This time I would like to ask to add some kind of auto volume level function because songs on the same playlist might be recorded or encoded with different volume level and sometimes I am really tired of adjusting volume up and down after each second song. For example playlist 'All Out 80's' by Spotify having all sort of music and I have noticed that rock usually played much quite than some pop song after it. For example quiet song 'I am gonna be' by The Proclaimers (quiet) against 'Rock Me Amadeus' by Falco (loud)

I wonder if anyone else noticed same patterns or if this feature exists somewhere...

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5 replies

I have noticed the same problem and at times it seriously disrupts my enjoyment of the product. I've also posted a thread requesting the same feature in the hope that the Sonos team take notice. Surely this could be included in a software update?
Be careful what you wish for. For a while I was listening to NPR podcasts on Apple Music. There was some sort of automatic volume adjustment on those feeds. Every time the broadcast switched to a different program segment, there was an initial "blast", then the auto volume kicked in and lowered the level. It was most annoying. I have since dumped Apple Music.

I wish that this was a simple issue, but there are traditions and stakeholders that make this very difficult. Some recordings are deliberately recorded at a lower than necessary level. Some of this is left over from the days of cassette recordings when high levels resulted in less highs and could lead to obvious distortion. This is no longer an issue with digital music, but old habits die hard. Some recording engineers continue to work at lower levels. Another aspect is "compression" that is applied to the final release. During the 1970's we discovered that "louder" radio stations were more likely to be noticed and gain market share. For technical reasons one cannot keep raising the output level of your station. In addition to being illegal, this practice will lead to interference between stations and stations that are not compatible with radio receivers in the field. Through the use of compression, a station can perceived as "louder" by the human, without breaking any legal or technical rules. Pop music producers use compression to make sure that their music is noticed when played in cars and on portable players. Modern compression uses all sorts of tricks to make music seem "loud", hopefully louder than all of the other tracks. It is very difficult to undo this compression because in addition, to reducing the difference between loud and quiet, it will use frequency response variations in various bands to trick our ears into thinking that the track is "loud". Undoing this compression is beyond simply measuring, then adjusting a voltage. One of these uber compressed tracks will still sound louder when its voltage levels are adjusted to match a conventional track.

It would be possible to develop an industry standard "volume adjustment" field that could become part of the digital data associated with each track, but I'm afraid that there would be constant abuse and, because of the tricky compression tactics, a human would need to listen to each track and assign a value to this "volume adjustment" field. This would require the cooperation of music producers, music players, and online music services.

Actually, there are a couple of fields that offer this feature, but there are issues. You can search the community for "Volume Normalization" and follow some of these discussions. SONOS has a FAQ.
Logitech Media Server has this feature all ready a long time, even a smart version where you can choose for track gain or album gain when listening to different songs from different albums. This works perfect with the gain factor in your music tag. So you must first use a program thats generate replay gain (for example dBpoweramp) and add this value in you music ID tag. I really don't understand why Sonos doesn't have this option... So Sonos, fix this 'cause there are a lot of people who have a problem with different volume levels in their collection and or playlists.
I bought John Rutter's Christmas Album for background music but gave up playing on Sonus due to the large dynamic range. Some parts very very quiet and then it would get uncomfortably loud so I had to constantly change the volume to avoid it becoming obtrusive. Lovely album and fine if you want to specifically sit and just listen to it but not as background.

Itunes have a volume levelling option so the volume is more consistent between different tracks and albums so PLEASE Sonus can you please provide a similar option.
I'm having the same issue on a playlist for listening on the patio. I'm constantly fiddling with the volume to be able to hear it, but not bother the neighbors. Would be really nice to see this implemented.