How To: Fix the sound volume issues in VLC Media Player

How To: Fix the sound volume issues in VLC Media Player

Yeah, another quick post on how to work out the dynamic audio compression settings in VLC. By default, you get these awkward moments when you go to sleep, put on a boring movie and set the volume just right so that it’s kind of soft, yet any dialogue is still just a bit more than perceptible and then slowly your reality is mixing with the movie and you’re out. So there’s this party and then these two guys are out, talking, and then a phone rings and all of a sudden 800 Watts of pure RMS explosions and gunfire shake the whole house, waking the dead and they start screaming, you jump out the bed and now you’re f*cking screaming and there goes a classic dafuq moment.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this post is not for you. And if you do know what I’m talking about but won’t admit it because you get startled like a schoolgirl whenever a truck just rolls by in mid-scene even when you’re genuinely doing nothing else but watching a movie, read on – your secret’s safe with me (just leave a comment with your name and the name of the non-horror movie that made you wet your pants most recently and I’ll make sure not to mention it randomly in an unrelated upcoming post).

Step 1

So, first of all, if you liked what you saw in my How To: Make Linux Look Sexy In Only 3 Fast Steps post, you already know that VLC’s default skin looks absurd and that Maverick07x’s MinimalX skin on deviantart.com is a must-have. Here’s what it looks like:

MinimalX Skin for VLC

The reasoning behind the previous paragraph’s off-topic-ness is that even without dynamic audio compression to prevent unpleasantries, a good looking skin can help lower blood pressure faster and make you look less like a startled gazelle on her period.

Step 2 

Go to preferences / Advanced Preferences (Ctrl + P), in the lower left corner select All to show all settings and then, in the left sidebar under Audio, click Filters. You want to check the Dynamic range compressor but I also suggest checking Volume normalizer and Parametric Equalizer – they might come in handy at some point. Note that omitting this step causes VLC to reset your settings every time you close it.

VLC Advanced Preferences

Step 3

It’s about time we enable the Compressor and configure it properly. Right click, go to Interface, Effects and Filters (Ctrl + E) and there you have it on the second tab under Audio Effects. The values you’re about to see have been tested, they give good results so no questions asked.

VLC Audio Compressor

If you want to know what they mean and how sh*t works, you need to looks somewhere else. I too did this research once, I don’t take credit for these settings and out of about 5 different (yet so similar, in terms of setting values) sources, only one of them explained them properly. It was an interesting read at that time but didn’t find it interesting enough to remember any of it – this is one of those type of things I just like to get done quick and move on. If you have too much time on your hands and feel like getting them dirty, you can experiment with different values – who knows, maybe you can achieve even greater results.

On a slightly different note, I hate Windows users (myself included every once in a while) for having KMPlayer available for them just like that. I dare say it’s the best media player there is – everything works out the box, has its own internal codecs, it’s highly customizable, has tons of handy little keyboard shortcuts and an impressive f*ckload of options in the settings panel that can intimidate even the most versatile tech savvies. It also looks great just with its default skin, but with LangLe’s KMetro from deviantart.com it’s just porn for the retina.

KMPlayer KMetro Skin

Oh, did I mention that these settings described here barely manage to come close to what KMP just does by default? Oh well, at least it’s available on Android, maybe there’s still hope…

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