How to Use Sound Check on iPhone and iPod

Set all your music to play at the same volume

Sound Check is a feature that many iPhone and iPod users don't know about, but you should probably be using it. With it turned on, not only do you have a better music-listening experience, but you also protect your hearing.

Songs are recorded at different volumes and with different technologies. This is especially true of older recordings, which are often quieter than modern ones. Because of this, the default loudness that songs on your iPhone or iPod use differ. This can be annoying, especially if you just turned up the volume to hear a quiet song, and the next one is so loud that it hurts your ears. Sound Check makes all your songs play at roughly the same volume. Even better, it's built into all recent iPhones and iPods.

Information in this article applies to iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch devices running iOS 12, iOS 11, or iOS 10.

How Sound Check Works

Sound Check seems cool, but how does it work? Despite what you may think, according to Apple, Sound Check does not edit your music files to change the volume. 

Instead, Sound Check scans all your music to understand the basic volume information. Each song has an ID3 tag that contains metadata, or information, about the song and that can control its volume level. Sound Check applies what it learns about the average volume levels of your music and tweaks the ID3 tag of each song that needs to be changed to create a roughly even volume ​for all songs. The ID3 tag is changed to adjust the playback volume, but the music file itself is never changed. You can return to the song's original volume by turning off Sound Check.

Turn on Sound Check on iPhone and Other iOS Devices

To enable Sound Check on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings app to open it.

  2. Tap Music.

  3. Scroll down to the Playback section and move the Sound Check slider to the On/green position.

    Music settings showing Sound Check option

Enable Sound Check on iPod Classic/Nano

For some early models that don't run on iOS, such as the original iPod line, iPod Classic, or iPod nano, the instructions are slightly different. These steps assume you're using an iPod with a click wheel. If your iPod has a touch screen, like some later models of the iPod nano, adapting these instructions is easy.

  1. Use the click wheel to navigate to the Settings menu.

  2. Click the center button to select Settings.

  3. Scroll about halfway down the Settings menu until you find Sound Check. Highlight it.

  4. Click the iPod's center button to turn on Sound Check.

Use Sound Check in iTunes and on iPod Shuffle

Sound Check isn't limited to mobile devices. It also works with iTunes. If you have an iPod Shuffle, you use iTunes to enable Sound Check on the Shuffle.

  1. Launch iTunes on your Mac or PC.

  2. Click the iTunes menu on a Mac and select Preferences. (On Windows, click Edit > Preferences.)

    iTunes Preferences on macOS
  3. Select the Playback tab at the top of the Preference screen.

    General settings screen in iPhone
  4. Check the box next to Sound Check.

    Playback settings screen showing Sound Check option.
  5. Click or tap OK to save the change.

Enable Sound Check on Apple TV 4K and 4th Generation Apple TV

The Apple TV can be the center of a home stereo system thanks to its support for playing your iCloud Music Library or your Apple Music collection. The Apple TV 4K and the 4th generation Apple TV also support Sound Check to even out the volume of your music. To enable Sound Check on those models of the Apple TV, follow these steps:

  1. Using your remote control, select the Settings app on the Apple TV.

  2. Choose Apps.

  3. Select Music.

  4. Go to the Sound Check option and click the remote control to toggle the menu to On.