Whenever you transfer music, audiobooks, or audio podcasts onto your iPod shuffle, you have full control over the sound volume simply by using the Click Wheel, pressing it up to increase sound level, or down to decrease volume - up to the point of completely muting your iPod. But there are several other factors that determine the volume that comes out of your iPod shuffle, whether through earbud headphones, or external speakers. In this tutorial, we will show you how to get more control over your iPod's volume, and a few tips to troubleshooting common sound problems.
Aside from using the Click Wheel on your iPod (the volume controls are highlighted on the screenshot), iTunes allows you to customize the sound level of individual items in your music library. Note that the following steps need to be applied on the songs, books, or podcasts in your iTunes library, before they are transferred to your iPod shuffle. (Just delete these files from your iPod if needed, and re-transfer them afterwards.)
Go to your iTunes library and find the audio file in question; then, right-click on it and choose "Get Info" to pull up the track's properties: iTunes will open a dialog that contains several tabs. Select the "Options" tab, and you'll see a "Volume Adjustment" slider, which by default is set to "None". To force a volume decrease (the tracks play too loud in your ears), drag the slider and move it to the left; to boost the volume of a weak sound file or poorly recorded track, drag the slider to the left; click on the "OK" button when you are done.
Normally, all content you find in the iTunes Store is recorded and distributed with a standard sound level - if you changed the default volume setting of audio files as explained above, just use the up or down side of the Click Wheel on your iPod shuffle during playback.
The first common sound problem comes from accidentally turning up or down the volume of your iPod shuffle when you carry it on you, either clipped or inside your pocket. To avoid this issue, Apple has added a "Hold" button on other iPods, but not on the shuffle: however, here's a trick to lock your iPod shuffle: once it is unplugged, and has either a pair of speakers or headphones connected to it, press and hold down the Play/Pause button on the Click Wheel for three seconds. Your iPod shuffle will confirm that it is now locked in two ways: first, the LED light will turn from green to orange, and you'll hear an audio cue. If you are currently listening to something, the volume will decrease for a few seconds; if you are not listening to it (but have earbuds on), you will hear a click confirmation noise.
This will lock the volume controls (and other functions) on your iPod shuffle, until you manually "unlock" it (by pressing and holding the Play/Pause button for three seconds, or until you see the LED light come back to green and/or the audio confirmation, and a temporary decrease in volume playback).
Apple lets you control the maximum sound level for your iPod shuffle, as we'll explain in another tutorial; keep in mind that if you cannot hear your iPod shuffle playback noise loud enough, it may be because you have engaged the volume lock. Plug your iPod into your computer, go back to iTunes, and unlock or adjust the current maximum sound level.
Tip: if none of the tips in this tutorial helped you fix the audio problem with which you were dealing, try the audio tracks in question on another iPod - the issue may well come from the MP3 file itself!