Laptop speakers can often be underpowered, and if you’re on the move it might not always be convenient to connect external speakers, or headphones. Another option is to install specialist audio processing software to amplify your system volume beyond the usual maximum.
How well this works depends on the individual device. Your usual volume limit isn’t some definitive physical barrier, and it’s likely you’ll be able to go a little further without any issues, but taking it too far will trash your audio quality.
Letasoft Sound Booster is a specialist tool which focuses on increasing volume alone using a combination of techniques.
The program is very easy to use. Tap a system tray icon, drag a slider to set the volume, and you’re done. Sound Booster is implemented as a standard Audio Processing Object, so any changes you make will automatically affect output from most Windows applications.
We found it worked, too, although not quite as well as the advertising suggests. In theory you can increase volume up to 500 percent of the normal maximum, but in practice we started to notice quality issues at around 25 percent increase, and 100 percent increase was a practical maximum for us.
That level of performance isn’t bad at all, of course -- a 25 percent volume increase without any noticeable quality loss is well worth having. But is it worth Letasoft’s $19.95 asking price? Maybe not.
Another option is to install a system-wide equalizer. This has vastly more functionality and will take a little more effort to set up, but it’ll also be more configurable, and you can try it out for free.
Get started by installing the open-source Equalizer APO. It’s a hugely powerful and configurable audio processor, implemented as a Windows APO to ensure it works automatically with all your software. But it’s also complex to operate, so once installed you’ll mostly just leave it alone.
Next up, install Peace Equalizer. This acts as a front-end for Equalizer APO, and is what you’ll be using to tweak your audio. The installation should proceed automatically, and all you have to do is accept the defaults and reboot when it’s over.
Launch Peace Equalizer, choose the Simple Interface and you’re presented with a familiar equalizer GUI. At its very simplest, you can increase volume by dragging the pre amplifying slider at the top of the screen to the right.
Click Done to accept the settings and close the program, "To Tray" if you want the UI to stick around. Either way, your changes should immediately affect browsers, media players or anything else you have running at the moment.
As with Letasoft Sound Booster, overdoing the volume increase will distort audio output, and you’ll probably get better results with a little fine tuning. Restart Peace, choose a preset like Bass Boost, and play around with the sliders and settings to see what happens.
If you’d like to take the program further still, open Peace using its full interface instead, and you’ll be able to do things like apply different equalizer settings to each speaker. It’s an excellent front end for an amazing sound processor, and although we’re talking about volume here, that’s just a tiny fraction of what these programs can do.