1. CCSturgis's Avatar
    Windows phone has been great for me the past few years. I've been enjoying it thoroughly, and even more so while MS tweaks the details to optimize the experience for all uses. These details are what really sets a platform apart in a hard contested market, and when we are promised a change in an area that we have been clamoring for more customization, its all the more important that they get it right.

    Volume control in WP7 and WP8 was basic to say the least. You have one setting, a single volume adjustment for all sounds exiting your device, of course with the exception of in-call volume. While this setting was functional, and workable, everyone saw its limitations and the frustrations caused therein. Watch a quiet video or listen to a quiet recording at full volume and have a piercing notification sound shoot through your ear canals and ring your eardrums once in a while and you will understand one of the, in my opinion, biggest downfalls of the single volume solution.

    WP 8.1 promised a solution to this. Individual sliders for separate volume controls, hallelujah. But this is a dangerous game to play, how many volume sliders do you want every time you tap that rocker? Alarm volume, ringtone volume, notification volume, media volume, etc... the list can get quite long over the course of a days use on a modern smartphone. I personally think MS split the volume settings quite well, two categories; Ringer + Notifications, and Media + Apps. This solution offers a nice fix to my personal issue with the single slider method, it is of course a compromise for those worried about individual app volumes. Those who want a ringtone set at low volume but the alarm set to high volume might need to find a new way around it, perhaps an alarm that increases volume over time or a louder tone. But for the most part I think we are served quite well with this new system, and I have been quite happy with it.

    Of course, what sort of rant would this be if i was quite happy with it. The whole thing comes crashing back down to earth when you plug in headphones, or connect to bluetooth. The moment you plug in headphones or connect to bluetooth speakers you are instantly transported back in time to the black days of single volume control. That problem i mentioned earlier with a quiet video or audio track at high volume, yeah, the one with the piercing notification sound that hits you straight in the brain and shoots down your spine, sending you panicked to the floor. You know the one I'm sure. It is innumerably worse with headphones on, or with your phone hooked into your car stereo via headphone jack or bluetooth. I listen to a fair deal of spoken word material, audio books, podcasts, standup comedy sometimes on road trips. These things tend to require a lot of volume from a car stereo if you hope to know what is being said, DING DING, and your car spirals into the ditch along the highway.

    Why? Why can we just keep our separate volume controls with headphones on?

    The problem doesn't even end there though. If you are like me you wear headphones at work for part of your day. Maybe you take them off sometimes to get your ears some fresh air and talk to some colleagues. You don't unplug your headphones just for this, you leave them plugged in with your phone on your desk waiting for you to return. Guess what happened to that low notification and ringer volume when you plugged in the headphones and turned them up? That sound doesnt get piped through the headphones unless there is something playing on the headphones, and you better believe i paused my music/book/podcast cause I'm not missing the next joke out of Gavin Free's British face. No, that notification sound now comes out of your phone at whatever volume you have your headphones set to. So where I have made the choice to allow notification sounds without headphones at a volume of 1, when i have my headphones on and my media paused they now come in at a nice 15 or so, I know theses are arbitrary numbers but 15>1.

    Why Microsoft? It is the details that make the product good, and most of the details of WP are good, and need a bit of tweaking. The volume feature in previous versions didnt bother me, because it was a known quanitity, across the board it was the same in every setting. You knew what you were going to get. Microsoft wanted to fix it, because we asked for it to be changed, but they dropped the ball on this one. It seems so simple to get right.

    Thanks for reading.

    xandros9 likes this.
    05-22-2014 04:01 PM
  2. xandros9's Avatar
    Personally, I find the single volume for headphones to make sense. But I think that may hinge on media and notifications being the same volume.

    I liked it since I could change both ringer and media as I see fit at the same time since i would probably be able to hear both the same privately.

    That's just me though.
    05-24-2014 11:26 AM
  3. CCSturgis's Avatar
    I like that the phone recognizes the headphones and knows that I like to listen to my headphones at about 12. But that doesn't mean I like to get my ears blasted by notifications, which are often louder than my media, at volume 12 as well.

    I don't understand why they could not provide a consistent experience across the three main use cases for volume: Built in speakers, headphones, and bluetooth. In the past it was a limiting experience but at least it was consistent.

    I just don't see the reasoning to assume that because I have my media at level x I must also want my notifications at level x when using external listening devices. This change was made to acknowledge that we don't want that from the internal speakers, why would they fix it for internal speakers but not external.
    05-28-2014 01:44 PM
  4. mayankmahi's Avatar
    I face the same issue here and its really frustrating. I keep ringer volume at 5 and media volume/headphone volume at 18. And whenever some notification comes it comes out loud. For instance, a call while i'm listening to some heavy music at high volume.

    Another frustrating thing is Notifications buzz while on call. That again is very annoying. Why do i wanna hear i got a message, an email at such high volume while i'm on a call :X
    06-26-2014 01:46 AM

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