Listening to music and watching videos are two of the most popular pastimes for most people these days. But, when you’re struggling to hear because your speakers aren’t loud enough, it can be a huge let-down. So, what can you do to improve your listening experience?
Of course, you can use headphones or buy a bigger, more powerful sound system. But these are pretty serious interventions.
If you want to do something quickly and easily, there are several ways to make speakers louder. They differ depending on the device and speaker type you’re using, but there are still many ways to boost the volume of your audio fast.
Why Are My Speakers Too Quiet?
This is the first thing to ask yourself and may also be the first thing to think about when trying to make speakers louder. From big stereo speakers to portable Bluetooth speakers to the speakers on your phone, sometimes you just don’t get enough volume.
This can happen for different reasons…
Over time, speakers components can wear out, and that can make them decrease in sound output. You can also run into problems with loose connections or other damage that can stop one or more of the drivers in your speakers stop working. And, sometimes, they’re just not very loud from the start.
In general, wattage is the most important factor in how loud your speakers get. We humans can notice changes in sound levels that are about 3 decibels (dB) apart. But, to get a 3dB change, you have to double the wattage of your speakers.
40 Watt speakers are only 3dB louder than 20 Watt speakers. Power input could be a problem, but in general, speaker wattage is fixed, and there’s nothing you can do to change it.
There could also be something blocking your speakers. This can be anything from soft furniture in front of your stereo speakers to dirt or debris in small speakers like the ones in your phone.
Settings are another big culprit…
Incorrect speaker settings on different devices can make your speakers too quiet. They can also make you think you’re playing on full power when that isn’t the case. Luckily, settings issues are quick and easy to fix.
Finally, your speakers may just be the wrong thing you need for your application. They could be just too small and too low in power to give you the output that you need.
Now that we have some idea why your speakers may be too quiet, it’s time to look at how to change that. It’s time to look at the different ways to make speakers louder.
Ways to Make Android Device Speakers Louder
First off, let’s look at how to make speakers louder on your phone or tablet. If you use an Android device, there are a few things you can do to get more volume out of the speakers. That’s true, even if you think you already have them maxed out.
Media Volume Limiter
All Android devices have a feature called the Media Volume Limiter. What does it do? This function intentionally limits the maximum volume of any output you’re playing through your phone or tablet.
The idea is this…
Videos and music from various sources are recorded at different volume levels. There is no industry standard, and things are different across music files and video.
So, Android simply sets a level that should be safe for listening to, and also one that will not wear out your speakers or cause distortion. Essentially, this sets the maximum level that anything can be played.
If this is too quiet for you to hear some media, there is a way to change the level. You can go into your Audio Settings and change the level to higher if that option is available. Or, you can turn the limiter off. The output level will then depend only on how much sound your speakers can produce.
It’s important to note that on some devices, the Media Volume Limiter is a bit harder to find. The manufacturers are worried about liability if the volume gets turned up too loud and damages your hearing.
So, sometimes they hide it in the Developer Settings. To access it, you can tap on your Build Number 5 times, and you will find yourself able to open these settings. Then you can disable the limiter, which can also be named “Absolute Volume.”
The other trick that you may not have tried is fiddling around with the EQ on your Android phone or tablet. You can find Equalization settings under Settings and then Sound and Vibration.
Once you open up the Equalization, you might find preset levels that you can flip through to see if they give your audio a boost.
If you have a “Custom” setting, choose it and turn up all the EQ sliders to the top. This should crank up all parts of the audio. Otherwise, slide them up one at a time to see if boosting just certain frequencies helps you hear things better.
Ways to Make iPhone and iPad Speakers Louder
If you’re an “iWhatever” user, you’ll be happy to know that making speakers louder on iOS devices is just as easy as with Android. Once again, you’ve got two main tricks up your sleeve that can help you pump up the volume.
Turn Off the Volume Limiter
iPhones and iPads have built-in software-based volume limiters, just like Android devices. In case you skipped the Android section (haha), a volume limiter is a preset maximum limit on the output level of your device. It’s there to keep you from damaging your hearing, and so you don’t sue Apple.
To get at this feature, you need to go into Settings, then Music. Once there, you should see the Volume Limit function, and you can turn it off temporarily while you watch a video or a movie. You can go back and turn it back on later, or keep it off permanently if it’s always an issue.
Just be warned…
This will let you turn up the volume on your device louder, and that can hurt your ears if you’re holding your phone to your ear, for example.
Also, iOS will usually turn this function back on automatically after every time you do a hard shutdown. So, you might have to come back to this setting often.
Tweak the Equalizer
Once again, iPhones and iPads have Equalizers just like Android devices do. And, even though you have your volume turned up to 100%, bumping up the EQ can make some or all parts of your audio louder and easier to hear.
How do you do it?
In Settings, go to Music and then EQ. Here you’re likely to find the Equalizer turned off since this is the factory setting. So, first, turn it on. Then you can choose from the 23 presets like Flat, Hip Hop, Late Night, Dance, Electronic, etc.
Try Loudness for increased bass notes, or Late Night to boost the volume. Late Night slightly lowers loud parts of your audio but significantly boosts the quiet parts, so this can help to make music or video easier to hear.
Ways to Make Speakers Louder on All Smartphones and Tablets
For this next section, it doesn’t matter what operating system you’re using or the brand of your phone. These are tips that can help you get more volume out of your device’s speakers. And the best part is that they don’t use more battery power or require any special investments.
Adjust Its Position
Holding your phone or tablet in your hands can make these devices sound worse. Depending on where the speakers are located on the devices, you could be blocking them with your fingers, partially or fully. This can reduce the sound coming out.
Even if you aren’t blocking the speakers, you can still be holding the device in a way that aims the speakers away from you. Yes, some devices are just poorly designed (no names!) so holding them aims the sound down instead of up toward your ears.
Try placing your phone or tablet on an angle, leaning against a wall or other solid object. Some devices sound the best laying on their backs, so the speakers aim up towards your ears. Try different positions and see if you can’t get a little more volume out of your device.
Put it in a Bowl
I know what it sounds like, but I’m not trying to be sexy here. I mean, take your phone or tablet and actually place it in a bowl. Ah-ha! Do you instantly hear a louder sound? You should, because you’ve just made what’s called a “passive amplifier.”
Sound waves normally shoot off in all directions, so they don’t all get to your ears. But, the bowl helps to reflect more waves towards your built-in sound receptors. More sound waves mean you hear a louder volume.
The best bowl or even large cup is deep but allows you to lean your device at about a 45-degree angle. A word of warning – this can change the quality of your audio as well. It can boost certain frequencies more than others, and you may or may not like what you hear.
Use a Passive Amplifier
Well, if you don’t like the bowl idea, you can get a real passive amplifier. They have them for sale, like this bamboo amplifying stand. But, you can also make on yourself.
All of these passive amplifiers have the same thing in common. They use a resonant body (a big hollow space) to trap and concentrate sound waves. So, just like the bowl idea, they reduce the amount of sound that gets scattered away from you and send more sound waves toward your ears.
Simple, but clever.
Ways to Make Portable Bluetooth Speakers Louder
Portable speakers with wireless connections are amazing, and they’re getting better every day. Some are now fully waterproof and can be dropped from a height and rolled down hills with no damage whatsoever.
But, what you gain in portability, you lose in power. There’s just no way you can get all the power of a 12” woofer packed into a speaker that’s only 8” at its widest point.
So sometimes you just need more volume…
With portable Bluetooth speakers, your biggest ally is position. Yep, you read that correctly. All things being equal, two identical speakers turned up to full blast can sound like they’re at different volumes, thanks to where they are located.
First off, putting your speaker against a wall is a great way to boost the volume. Once again, this is because the wall reflects any sound waves that are coming out of the speaker and going in the wrong direction.
When they bounce off the wall instead, they make it seem like the speaker is louder. More sound waves hitting your ears will create more volume.
So, what’s better than a wall?
Two walls, of course! Even better than putting your speaker against a wall is putting it in a corner. But, you do want to be a straight line from the speaker. So, locate yourself on a 45-degree line coming out of the corner.
This will direct even more sound waves toward you, making the speaker sound louder without turning up the volume.
Now, of course, you can take the wall theory and keep going with it. Three walls are better than two, and four are better than three. If you take your speaker into a smaller room where the sound can bounce off all four walls easily, it will once again sound louder.
Move the party into the closet, then?
Well, at least get closer. Everybody knows this, but here’s why. Sound waves lose energy as they travel through the air (or anything else for that matter). So the farther they have to travel to reach your ears, the less power they will have and the quieter they will sound.
Therefore, when playing sound at the same volume, getting closer will make the speakers sound louder. And, if you use the same speaker in a smaller room, it will fill up the room better and give you a bigger, fuller sound than in a larger room.
Ways to Make Home Stereo Speakers Louder – It’s All About Position
The same pieces of advice about position also go for home stereo speakers. In this case, though, you generally have more than one speaker to work with, so placement is even more important.
If you have a standard set-up with two tower or bookshelf speakers, you normally want them to be somewhere between eight to ten feet apart on the same wall.
They should be angled towards each other, so they both aim for a specific point in the room, and that is the ideal place to be to hear the loudest, clearest sound. They will also sound louder if you have the mid-range driver at ear level, whether that’s seated or standing.
As with those portable Bluetooth speakers…
Putting your stereo speakers in a smaller room will make them louder. Less of their power will go into creating sound waves that dissipate before they get to your ears. That means more power goes into pumping up the volume.
And, speaking of power…
Get More Power
OK, for sure, you were waiting for this part. Yes, you can indeed make speakers louder by simply giving them more juice.
Normally, speakers should be running at or just under their RMS power (root mean squared or continuous power handling level) to give you a good amount of volume without peaking and causing distortion.
But what if they’re not getting enough amplification?
Let’s look at an example. Imagine you have a speaker cabinet that has two channels, a woofer, and a tweeter, both of which can handle 100 Watts. The RMS for this speaker cabinet is then 200 Watts.
But what if your amplifier is giving out less power than that, say, 50 Watts per channel? That would mean you’re only driving 100 Watts into the speaker that can handle double this input.
In these cases…
You may find that you’ve got great big, powerful speakers, but your amp isn’t producing enough power to drive them properly, and they will sound too quiet.
Turning up your amp could cause it to max out if you’re already pushing it as far as it can go. So, instead, it might just be time to get yourself a new, more powerful amplifier.
Need More Advice on Speakers?
If so, take a look at our handy articles on How to Turn a Regular Speaker into a Bluetooth Speaker, How to Set Crossover Frequency for Speakers, How To Connect JBL Speakers To iPhone, 2-way vs 3-way Speakers, and Floorstanding vs. Bookshelf Speakers for more useful information.
Ways to Make Speakers Louder – Final Thoughts
We tend to think of speakers as unchangeable devices that have their specifications, and that’s that. But there are lots of ways to get more out of your speakers.
You don’t have to go looking into new ones…
If you’re trying to enhance portable Bluetooth speakers or home stereo speakers, you can play with positioning as the major way to get more volume. You can also use them in smaller rooms to make them sound louder.
If you’re trying to boost the sound level on handheld digital devices like phones and tablets, the key can be found in both positioning and control settings. Of course, you have to keep in mind that listening to louder speakers can be dangerous, especially if sound levels start to exceed 100 decibels.
So, take all of these tips with a grain of salt. Make sure that you’re boosting your volume while still keeping things within safe levels.
Until next time, good luck, and have fun listening.