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In Windows 7 (64-bit, Ultimate) the default audio output is extremely high. This has been an issue for a while but I was able to get around it as my previous headphones took more power to drive so it actually worked in my benefit.

However, now I have a set of really sensitive headphones and they're being over-powered. So much so that if I put it down at around 5% of total output it's bearable.

Is there a way I can sort of limit the system's volume so that it's incapable of going extremely loud and then have the rest of it just behave as normal?

Things I've tried:

  1. Uninstalling and re-installing the audio device and drivers.
  2. Limiting each application individually.
  3. Searching for third-party software (so far nothing looks promising).

The first has no effect. The second works find but I have to do it for every application individually (which can be a pain) and many of them reset their volume every time they're launched, which makes it almost useless. Some even reset the volume while I'm playing a game!

So does anyone have any suggestions on how to make my volume reasonable?

The device is, apparently, a Cirrus Logic CS4206A (AB 24). The computer is an 2010 iMac.

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possible duplicate of Windows 7 laptop's volume with headphones way too loud – user3463 Mar 27 '12 at 6:54
Similar issue, doesn't fix it for me, however. – dougoftheabaci Mar 30 '12 at 0:56
Have you tried the driver in my answer? – harrymc Jun 8 '12 at 7:04
also possible duplicate of… – Gurken Papst Jun 11 '12 at 18:07
up vote 5 down vote accepted

If software solutions don't work you may want to buy, or build a inline attenuator (google link cause i can't recommend anything specifically) - which is a 'fixed' volume reduction device, or some kind of extension cable with a volume control - this is recommended in this answer for another question . I've heard of this happening with very sensitive IEMs, some of which come with an optional attenuator.

enter image description here

Its a pretty simple device. Interestingly, I got the image from this thread on macrumours that says pretty good things about them with (admittedly old) macbooks .

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The driver didn't work for me and I don't have the level options as offered by the other post. However, I do have one of these (completely forgot) and, for now, it's doing the trick. I have also purchased a headphone DAC/AMP that will eventually solve the issue (and others). – dougoftheabaci Jun 12 '12 at 15:40

I have verified that I can set the output level for different speaker devices in Windows 7 (64 bit) independent of one another and independent of the system main volume using this method (for USB powered devices):

  1. Plug in your Headset

  2. Click Start->Control Panel->Sound

  3. Choose your Headset and click 'Properties'

enter image description here

  1. Click the 'Levels' tab

enter image description here

  1. Drag the slider left to a reasonable level and click 'OK'

enter image description here

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I'll give this a try later tonight, but I don't think this works with non-USB headphones. For example, the volume appeared to mirror the master volume. I'll give it a go, though! – dougoftheabaci Mar 27 '12 at 19:16
It is independent, but "level" is just the volume level for this device, it doesn't prevent it from being suddenly set to maximum by any program. – Gnoupi Apr 13 '12 at 14:35

Chances are that you've already tried it, but depending on your soundcard, there may be a specific Limited Output option:

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

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I finally got it working. Had to keep my system volume at 10% or lower at all times, how could I miss this?

Sound > Default Device > Properties/Levels.

Scroll down to the bottom

Front will be at 100. (Strange since I use stereo headphones.)

Lower it to 10.

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You can use NirCmd to set your system volume to a much lower level than Windows volume control allows at setting "1". The command I use is "nircmd.exe setsysvolume 75". You can get a copy of NirCmd on CNet here:

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This is the kind of thing I was looking for, but it didn't seem to work for me (on Windows 7): Running "nircmd setsysvolume 75", or even "nircmd setsysvolume 500" causes my sound card to produce no output, but running "nircmd setsysvolume 600" causes the same results as setting the standard Windows volume to 1 (much too loud on my system). – Jon Schneider May 21 '13 at 12:29

See if this article helps : MacBook Pro No Sound in Windows 7.

As there is apparently no driver for the CS4206, you might also try the CS4207 Vista driver v6.6001.1.30 from 1/2011 (on Resources tab).

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It would be nice if one of the down-voters left a comment. – harrymc Jun 11 '12 at 15:03

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