Sony WH-1000XM4 (/XM3 /XM5) Not Loud Enough [How to Fix]

There are few things more frustrating than being met with a disappointing decibel limit when breaking out new headphones. This is especially true for traditional “earmuff” headphones that are supposed to block out the new noise of your immediate surroundings.

So for the folks that paid an arm and a leg (or somewhere in the 300s) for the Sony WH-1000 headphones – it’s easy to understand their frustration with limited volume.

If you find yourself in this article due to an inability to kick the volume up to 11, there is still hope. In this article, we will go over a brief summary of what the headphones can get to decibel-wise as well as methods to help hear the music better and potentially increase volume.

(Sony makes their product names confusing and hard to remember as it gets. Make sure you aren’t looking for an article on WF-1000 earbuds, which we do have on the home page.)

How Loud Do My Sony Headphones Get?

The unfortunate reality of this article is that any pair of headphones you pay a few hundred dollars for should never be too quiet for you. All three variations of these headphones – which are named in a way that is more confusing than Aramaic – are listed by Sony as sitting at least at 100 DB.

While researching for this article, we found that while several people are in the same boat as the readers of this page – others spoke to the fact that getting to max volume actually hurts their ears. So either your hearing is going the way of the Dodo, your headphones are dying (not likely) or something needs to be altered, cleaned, or fixed.

The biggest problem seems to be that folks are divided between, “When I turn it past 70% my ears start to quiver” and “At 100% I can still hear people coughing next to me on the bus.” What likely needs to be changed is either the Bluetooth Connection, The AVLS for European models, or even the connection to your device of choice.

We will get more in-depth with this directly below.

How To Increase Volume on Sony WH-1000XM3, XM4 & XM5

Trying to find solutions to this issue on the web tends to bring you to forum questions with few answers outside of other consumers talking about how loud theirs get.

Thankfully, we have compiled a concise yet detailed list of all the different ways you can boost the sound on your headphones without having to get them replaced.

If none of the following fixes work, we will discuss the headphone warranty, expiration date, and why you should absolutely take advantage of it.

These are solutions for Sony WH-1000 products, which are identifiable by the earmuff or “over-the-ear” design. For the earbud alternative, search “WF-1000 not loud enough” in the search bar above.

Switch From Bluetooth to a Wired Connection

Unfortunately, the Bluetooth connection does not seem to get nearly as loud as the wired alternative. Several people have spoken about the fact that when they are listening on Bluetooth it is lower than they would like, which is regrettable.

While there are potential solutions for this listed below, our immediate concern is seeing if this is the cause of your depressing decibel levels.

Some consumers have also expressed that resetting the Bluetooth connection has been the solution to push up the volume a bit. Regardless, if you need an immediate fix while on the subway, train, bus, or at your gym – using the headphone jack may prove to be your best bet.

This doesn’t mean you are forced to live a wired-in commute, but it does offer an immediate alternative on the go.

Turn Off AVLS

Automatic Volume Limiter System (AVLS) is an option given to some models of Sony headsets that allow them to keep the volume at a reasonable setting. Unfortunately, this can also result in your device sounding like its speakers are dying.

It should be said that sony recommends keeping AVLS on to preserve your hearing, though if you are here you aren’t overly concerned with caution tape.

Some devices will not come with AVLS. If you cannot find it from the steps below, go to the next solution in the list.

  1. With the music paused or stopped, select the Menu option.
  1. You can use the Previous Track/Skip Track options to navigate to the AVLS tab.
  1. Turn AVLS to OFF.
  1. Press the Play button to confirm. You will know you did it successfully if the AVLS makes a quick audio queue in your headphones.

Test the audio to see if it improves and can get louder. Do this with caution, as these headphones when unobstructed can wreak havoc on your eardrums.

Also, the AVLS can automatically switch back on after listening to music at excessive volumes for a long period. This annoying yet sensible feature is worth noting if your volume drops back down again.

If you still have quiet and contained audio, you will need to start looking for another likely culprit.

Your Mobile Device Has a Volume Reduction

Past 85 decibels we are potentially risking hearing loss with prolonged audio playback.

Because of this, several phone, laptop, and computer companies have come up with settings that auto-limit the volume you can play your music. This method of technological tyranny can thankfully be turned off and we can resume our leisurely afternoons full of hearing loss and aggressive air drums.

For those that are listening to music through an Android Device, follow the steps below. Note that some Android devices may not have a volume limitation setting, and may just reduce volume automatically after long periods.

  1. From the Home screen, navigate to the gear cog or Settings option.
  1. Depending on your phone, you will navigate to Sounds or Sound and Vibrations.
  1. Select the ellipse (…) in the upper right corner of the screen and click Media Volume Limit.
  1. If this is turned on, turn it off or change the slider to a more desirable option.

If you are using an Apple device, the following steps will sort you out.

  1. From the Home screen, navigate to the gear cog or Settings menu.
  1. Locate Sound & Haptics and select it.
  1. Find Headphone Safety from the list of options and tap it.
  1. Look for the Reduce Loud Sounds option and see if it is turned on.
  1. If so, select it to turn off volume limitations.
  1. Test audio to see if the volume is improved.

Both devices also have a feature that will reduce sound automatically after a certain period. This feature has been the bane of our collective existence since adolescence and does not show any signs of being removed.

You will know this feature by a pop-up prompt informing you that raising the volume any higher could cause hearing damage. Make a silent apology to your future self and continue turning up the volume after selecting okay.

Volume is Low on Connected Devices, Sony Headphones, or App

Have you ever been driving with your phone connected to the stereo and can’t understand why the volume is so low despite the car stereo being at max? Well, if you have, you know that there are two volumes to worry about; the car stereo and your phone.

So if you are struggling to understand why your headphones sound like they are whispering lyrics in your ear, it may be worth checking both volumes.

To change the volume of the headset all you will need to do is run your finger upwards along the touch menu on the right ear of your headphones. If this is already at max volume, you will need to start looking for volume on your preferred device. Whether it be a laptop, phone, or tablet, find the volume and see if it corresponds with your Sony headphones. If it doesn’t, slowly raise it and see if the problem persists.

An additional thought worth noting is checking the volume in the Sony Headphones Connect App. If you feel like your endless upward swipes at the headphone are doing very little – or nothing at all – having a visual slider to confirm your theory is a good way to be sure. You can access the volume by selecting the Down Arrow towards the bottom right of the Now Playing tab.

When it drops down, a volume slider will be found just below a previous track, pause, and next track option. Adjust it to your personal preference and see if it doesn’t alleviate your auditory issues.

Turn Off Multipoint Connection

As we discussed above, the Bluetooth connection is not as strong as a wired connection and can affect the volume negatively.

In that same disappointing vein, it can also benefit your volume if your headphones are not connected to multiple devices at once. This can not only affect the volume of your headphones but the quality of the audio itself.

Sony WH-1000 products are capable of connecting to one device for call audio and another for media audio. Whichever device you prefer to listen to music on will need to be assigned to media audio, as we will be removing the pairing between your call audio device and the headphones. The process is simple and can be achieved in little more than a few straightforward steps.

  1. Select the Sony Headphones Connect app from your phone.
  1. Navigate to Settings, then go to Device Connection.
  1. Select Bluetooth, then click on the gear cog or Settings option.
  1. Choose Paired Devices then toggle the Call audio option off, removing the second device.

Test the audio after you have confirmed the settings to see if the volume has been fixed. To be absolutely certain, it may also benefit you to switch off Bluetooth on the secondary device that you just removed. Some consumers have also stated that their headphones connect to a secondary device despite multipoint connection being turned off, so remain wary.

Tweak Streaming Service Settings (Spotify, Apple Music, Etc.)

This isn’t exactly a fix for the headphone volume, but a workaround to get the decibel level to a more agreeable level.

Chances are that your audio platform of choice has sound settings that not only adjust the volume but even contain decibel presets. For instance, Spotify utilizes three different sound settings, Quiet, Normal, and Loud.

If you are noticing that your sound settings are quieter than normal not just in your headphones, this may fix a lot of headaches down the road. Regardless, head to the settings option in your streaming service and navigate to Volume/Sound/Audio and see if there is a preset volume level. If it is on normal, be aware that boosting the sound may distort the audio somewhat.

Speaking of distorted audio, there are some people who recommend pumping up everything in the equalizer for it to play at a higher decibel. Doing so would massively distort the audio causing compression, crackling and unpleasant additional noise that defeats the purpose of purchasing $300+ headphones from Sony.

Download A Volume Booster App/Software

While on the topic of distorted audio, let’s discuss Volume Boosters. For those that still suffer from a quiet set of headphones, there is a high probability your headphones are either defective, dying, or suffering from an ailment that requires a professional.

The good news is that there are workarounds that require no money and can continue to squeeze the life out of your headphones for weeks or months to come.

Wavelet is a very popular app for Android that not only boosts volume but bass as well. It also offers a 9-band equalizer with several presets for genre and product type. Anyone who has a mild interest in audio has likely heard of this app, which can turn shoddy products into fairly competent listening devices. Some features are hidden behind a paywall, but several are free.

Equalizer+ is a solid choice for those using an Apple product that will boost volume, bass, and treble. It comes with several presets for the six-band equalizer. Like most apps nowadays, there are a few features that are reserved for those willing to pull out their wallet. Regardless, this is a good option for Apple users.

Equalizer APO is going to be one of the better choices for those who prefer to listen to music on a Windows computer. The software is simplistic, free, and surprisingly deep. The equalizer on this software is going to be far more in-depth than anything you will find on a mobile device and allows the volume to shoot well past the 100% mark.

These certainly aren’t the only choices out there, but they will give you a good starting point for an immediate solution to this irritating problem. There is no shortage of volume-boosting apps or software and if you don’t want to pay for the features, there are free alternatives that get by with a few ads thrown in here and there.

Cleaning out Headphones

This is usually a method reserved for earbuds due to their limited audio output space. It is very easy for dirt, dust, and grime to get into the smaller in-ear buds over time, particularly when we consider how nasty the average ear canal can get.

With headphones, this is admittedly much less of an issue, though still worth considering this far into the article.

Make sure that the holes where the audio comes out aren’t covered or caked in unwanted debris. Check that your device of choice doesn’t have hair, dirt, or fuzz in the headphone port which could cause a poor connection.

Past that, it is unlikely that poor headphone hygiene is the cause of your lowered decibel level but we are getting down to the warranty part of the article – so desperation abounds.

Checking Your Warranty

If you are at this point in the page, we are sincerely sorry. There are few things worse than realizing your few hundred-dollar headphones are on their last leg.

Thankfully, if they are fairly new; you may still have options. The Sony warranty covers WH-1000XM3, XM4, and XM5 headphones for one year after their date of purchase.

The warranty does not cover damage caused by accidental damage, negligence, or repairs from an unapproved party. If you still think there is hope for your headphones past the warranty date you can try to get them serviced by a professional, or even call customer support. While we pride ourselves on being extensive in our research, sometimes the best person to ask is the people that made the product.

Final Thoughts

If you are going to throw down triple-digits on a new pair of headphones, it’s only fair that they are able to deafen you within the week should you desire. Low-volume headphones are useless for a number of activities, jobs, and environments.

Having to try and hear the vocals of a song over your Cub Cadet is an ordeal no one wants to have to undertake. Thankfully, most reasons for a muted sound in Sony headphones are easy enough to fix.

Be wary when listening to your headphones that one or both channels aren’t dying. If you notice that the right side is always lower than the left or both are significantly quieter than they use to be; your headphones are in a bad way. Typically, the cause of the issue has to do more with a setting we didn’t know about or forgot to switch off.