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Old 11-23-2007, 12:35 PM   #1
poenn
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Unhappy More finegrained audio volume control? (Harman/Kardon USB SoundSticks)

Hi,

I've been asking this question for every major release since 10.2 and I am near to just give up on it. I use the Harman/Kardon SoundSticks (the older USB model, not version 2 with the regular audio jack) and since 10.2 they are simply too loud. Since the speakers themselves do not have any volume control knob it has to be a software solution.

With OS X's sound volume keys I can only use "1 bar of volume" when in front of my Mac and even that is a litle too loud. The only solution is to turn it off completely or to lower it a little bit via the volume control slider in the menu bar. This results in approximately "3/4 bar of volume". Moving it just a tiny bit down from here results in muted audio.

Is there any way to just reduce the overall audio volume via software? Sure, I can do it app by app, but I really need a systemwide solution!

Thanks
Björn
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Old 11-23-2007, 01:39 PM   #2
Las_Vegas
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Have you tried adjusting it in the Audio MIDI Setup utility? Have you checked Harman/Kardon for driver updates?
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Old 11-23-2007, 03:24 PM   #3
poenn
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Hi,

the SoundSticks do not use any drivers, so there aren't any available from H/K. They came out when Mac OS 9 was around and worked the same way with 10.0 and 10.1, but with 10.2 they suddenly were much louder and this hasn't changed with 10.3, 10.4 and 10.5.
I checked Audio MIDI Setup and it's still the same as with Tiger. I can reduce the volume by moving the sliders there and it seems a little more precise than the menu bar volume slider, but as soon as I use the keyboard volume keys it's back to "loudness" for me.

The settings in Audio MIDI Setup are 2 Channels, 16 Bit, 44.1 kHz and the 2 sliders show:
Value: 0.06
dB: -30,75

I can move them to 0.00 (-41,00 dB) and it is not even muted as one would suppose. This can only be achieved by using the keyboard's volume mute key.
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Old 11-23-2007, 04:20 PM   #4
poenn
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For those of you interested here's the thread when I asked about it during the Tiger era:
http://forums.macosxhints.com/showth...sound+too+loud
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Old 11-23-2007, 04:25 PM   #5
trevor
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Have you tried creating a new user and checking to see if the problem continues from that new user?

It's impossible that the Soundsticks would work without drivers. What you probably mean is that the drivers are built in to OS X, so there are no extra drivers to install.

Have you searched Versiontracker or MacUpdate for solutions? A simple search finds the following:

http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/9173
http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/25320
http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/29805
http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/20128
http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/26786
http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/10249
http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/10330

Trevor
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Old 11-23-2007, 04:45 PM   #6
poenn
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Thanks for the reply, trevor. I did a similar search on VT just a while ago and tried out most of these utilities. Unfortunately none did help the situation.

You're right about the driver. What I meant was that H/K doesn't provide one and that it's using the builtin system driver which was working fine til 10.1.

I tried a new user account as well as clean installs in 10.3, 10.4 and now 10.5.

Any additional ideas are very welcome!
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Old 11-23-2007, 07:17 PM   #7
mclbruce
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I had the same lack of low volume settings problem with my USB SoundSticks. It really was annoying. I ended up selling them because of this.
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Old 11-24-2007, 03:15 PM   #8
poenn
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Hmmm, I really love these speakers, but it looks like there's not much hope? Does anybody know of terminal commands (defaults write, etc.) that deal with audio output? Lowering the system overall output to some degree would do the trick I suppose...
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Old 11-25-2007, 08:48 PM   #9
mclbruce
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Quote:
Originally Posted by poenn
Hmmm, I really love these speakers, but it looks like there's not much hope?

I loved mine too. However, I think the JBL Creature II speakers are very close in sound, maybe a little better. Looking at them I thought, "those things are too small to sound good," but I was pleasantly surprised after listening. They have a lot of personality as well.
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Old 12-04-2007, 04:07 PM   #10
poenn
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I tried them too, but still want to keep (and comfortably use) my SoundSticks. :-(
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Old 01-19-2008, 10:35 AM   #11
l008com
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I just found this thread while googling for 'usb soundsticks too loud'
Someone just gave me an old set for free. The sound isn't terribly impressive but it's better than the mono speaker in a mac pro. But they speakers are WAY too loud. And after reading this, I'll probably just pass them on to someone else.
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Old 01-19-2008, 05:26 PM   #12
anika123
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I wonder if this hint on fine volumes level will help you. Seems almost too simple.

Quote:
http://www.macosxhints.com/article.p...80112002445560

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Old 01-19-2008, 05:59 PM   #13
l008com
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That actually is somewhat helpful. That gives me the functionality I can get by going into the sound system preference. Still loud but slightly easier to work with. BTW I just got an email from their tech support telling me that these speakers are designed for older versions of OS X and that they simply aren't compatible with current versions, or OS X. Oh well, to ebay they go I guess.
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Old 01-20-2008, 04:58 AM   #14
poenn
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Hi,

I also read that hint and it helps a little in terms of "easing the pain", but it still is too loud overall...
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Old 01-20-2008, 10:41 PM   #15
SocialistAvenger
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I don't know if this will have a big enough effect, but you can control volume bars by 1/4 by holding down alt+shift+volume+/- and get it down to 1/4 of a volume bar.
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Old 01-21-2008, 12:56 AM   #16
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You could route the sound through AU Lab using soundflower, and I think you would have full control of the volume using the settings in AU Lab. I've posted this before refering to using this to create an EQ, but it should work for your issue too.

My blogger post is here, and you can create an applescript which changes the audio midi setup settings, and starts AU Lab for you (a similar applescript is listed at the bottom of my other post on that site).
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Old 01-25-2008, 04:26 PM   #17
poenn
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AULab

Hi P6SMSKC,

I installed Soundflower and AULab and followed your instructions. Very clever to do it this way and it definitely works. The only problem is that it's not really very practical (or elegant). I need to keep AULab open all the time and the keyboard (and front row remote) volume keys are inactive.

It was worth a try, but I'll keep searching (and hoping) for a system-wide solution which makes it possible to just lower the overall system volume while keeping volume key functionality...
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