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I have this recurring problem ever since I had my first laptop. The speakers on laptops are usually quiet but usable, however there are some sound sources that are even quieter than normal, be it Youtube videos, movie files or mp3, some are unbearably quiet.

I realize that programatically boosting all computer sounds would result in terrible crackling etc, but I only need it rarely and on demand, when listening to a weak sound source. Is there an application for that.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is one of those problems that shouldn't even exist...

If you are on Windows 7, the best solution I know of is to use Volume Normalization. Shockingly, I can't find a step-by-step guide online for how to turn it on, so here it goes:

  1. Click the volume icon in the taskbar (blue arrow), then the speaker button (red arrow), which some UI genius made look like an unclickable decorative image:

    enter image description here

  2. You will get the following dialog. Click the Enhancements tab (blue arrow), then tick the Volume Normalization (red arrow) and Apply (green arrow). You're done!

    enter image description here

  3. (optional) Click the Settings button to tweak the release time (i.e. how long the volume stays low after very loud sounds).

Unfortunately there is no easier way to turn this on/off.

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This is a "problem" that should exist! When listening to audio over laptop speakers, there is a very small dynamic range that is acceptable to listen to. Those of us with decent speakers/amps appreciate a wider dynamic range. This is especially true with movies where the dynamic contrast between someone talking and a car explosion is very wide to give a more lifelike and realistic sound. The proper way around the problem would be for laptop manufacturers to include an audio compressor in front of the amp for the speakers. Then, it would be win/win for all. –  Brad Sep 6 '12 at 13:09
    
@Brad I was referring to those audio tracks which are too quiet throughout, rather than just have a high dynamic range. A h/w compressor would indeed be handy for laptop speakers... –  romkyns Sep 7 '12 at 8:05
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