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The maximum output volume as allowed by the slider control in the menu bar is never loud enough. I have to open the Sound Settings and boost it past 100%. This has been the case in 12.04, 12.10, and 13.04. Also, if the volume was set past 100% through sound settings, the use of volume shortcut keys cause the volume to slide back to 100%.

How can I adjust what Ubuntu considers 100% on the Output volume?

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I think this is by-design. – Braiam Oct 31 '13 at 14:01

What do you mean with 100%? 100% Its that...100% If you access to Sound Settings, There is a place where you can "Amplify" overpass 100% and get more "louder", but is over level. In same way, you can look at VLC where It's a volume level, that's 100% and you can amplify this to %200, but, is just that. I recomend you a good pair of speaker system, or may be a nice pair of earphone to get better sound.

If you are over Level, you got a distortion of real sound.

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