How come the maximum volume on the sound menu isn't actually the maximum volume possible?

If I select "Sound Preferences..." and look at the volume slider in the window, it can go quite a bit higher. Why is this and what is the point? What I do know is that audio can distort past the normal 100% level in most instances but it's fine for when I'm playing DVDs.

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  • Found a bugreport on this here: bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/gnome-media/+bug/659841 (maverick so it is old but it looks like it never got asigned so maybe it is a feature :D ) – Rinzwind May 8 '11 at 20:17
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    This one goes to 11. :) – boehj May 8 '11 at 20:19
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    This is not a bug. the "100%" doesn't show the current volume, it shows where the actual maximum is , in order to avoid distortion. Showing both the 100% and the current volume would fill that place with unnecessary info. One doesn't need to know the percentage of the current volume, he/she just needs to have a volume as loud as his/her needs require. – Chriskin May 8 '11 at 20:21

Starting from 9.10 Pulse Audio merges the sound mixing from ALSA. This has the side effect that you are able to increase the sound level to >100% if you need to. This of course goes on the cost of sound quality as pcm sound will get distorted when overamplified. You can disable this behaviour in PulseAudio if you want.

Or, on Ubuntu > 16.04, whether the Sound Settings control panel volume slider allows setting the volume above 100% is controlled by the following dconf key. Run the following command to disallow setting the volume above 100%. Change takes effect immediately.

dconf write com/ubuntu/sound/allow-amplified-volume false

This setting can also be done from the dconf-editor:

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  • Any updates? since 18.04 No such schema “com.ubuntu.sound” – cat Aug 7 '18 at 21:36
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    @cat ther is. See edit – Takkat Aug 8 '18 at 7:03
  • In 18.04 the key exists and is writable but i think it doesn't cause gnome-control-center to allow volumes over 100% – cat Aug 8 '18 at 19:13

Overamplifying a volume is a good feature, especially for laptops where internal speakers are not loud. I was using this feature since Ubuntu (9.10) on my FujitsuSiemens SI1520. It helped me very much to listen to music. You can even more amplify a sound by using the VLC player where you can gain up 200% of normal sound level :)

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I use it when i listen to speeches that were recorded at rather low volume. It might distort music/sound effects etc but it is rather useful in those cases when you just can't listen because of bad recording.

100% is the actual maximum volume - 125 (if i recall correctly) is the volume they thought that would give you loud enough sound without too much distortion.

Most players provide the same feature - smplayer's "max amplification" (with 110 as default) for example

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