How to Master Music Settings on the iPhone

Where to Look for Hard-To-Find Music Settings

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Most of the coolest things you can do with the iPhone Music app are found in the app itself. But there are some harder-to-find settings outside of the Music app that can increase your enjoyment of your music and protect you (or your kids) at the same time. Here's what you need to know about iPhone music settings.

The instructions in this article apply to iPhones running iOS 11 and higher.

Screenshot of settings for iOS Music app

How to Adjust EQ Settings in the iPhone Music App

Go to Settings > Music > EQ to find the equalizer settings for your phone. These settings offer different audio playback styles. If you want to increase the bass sound of your music, choose Bass Booster. Listen to a lot of jazz? Get just the right mix by choosing the Jazz setting. Listening to a lot of podcasts or audiobooks? Pick the Spoken Word option.

EQ is optional, but if you want an improved audio experience, select the EQ setting that's best for you.

Using EQ does deliver a better music experience, but turning it on uses up more battery than if it's turned off.

How to Set a Music Volume Limit on iPhone

One big concern for a lot of iPhone users is the potential damage they may be doing to their hearing by listening to a lot of music, especially with earbuds that are so close to their inner ear. The Volume Limit setting addresses that by limiting the maximum volume of the music on your device.

To use it, go to Settings > Music > Volume Limit. Move the Max Volume slider to the loudest you want your music to play. Once it's set, no matter what you do with the volume buttons, you'll never hear music louder than the limit.

If you're setting a volume limit on a kid's device, you should lock the limit in the password-protected Restrictions screen so it can't be changed (learn more about Restrictions here). To do that, go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Volume Limit > Don't Allow Changes.

Those steps are for iOS 12. On earlier versions of the iOS, go to Settings > General > Restrictions > Volume Limit. Tap Volume Limit and select Don't Allow Changes.

How to ​Use Sound Check on iPhone

Songs are recorded at different volumes, meaning that you might listen to one song that's loud and then one that's pretty quiet, causing you to adjust the volume for each song. Sound Check tries to prevent this. It samples the volume of the songs in your Music library and attempts to play all songs at the same average volume.

If you want to use it, go to Settings > Music > Sound Check and tap the slider to move it to the On position. 

Sound Check works in iTunes, too. To learn how to enable it there, check out How to Enable and Use Sound Check in iTunes.

How to Turn On Star Ratings on iOS 12 and Up

By default, the Music app gets your feedback on which songs you prefer by asking you to favorite, or love, songs. But that's the only option. It also lets you add star ratings to songs for use when creating smart playlists.

The Star Rating option is hidden by default in iOS 12 and up. Turn it on by going to Settings > Music > Show Star Ratings > moving the slider to on/green.

Other iPhone Music Settings

There are a number of other useful iPhone music settings you can control by going to Settings > Music. They include:

  • To hide the Apple Music streaming service, move the Show Apple Music slider to off/white.
  • Don't use cellular data to update your music library by tapping Cellular Data and then toggling the slider to Off. This setting comes in handy if you're approaching your monthly data limit and want to save data. But be aware you won't be able to download, upload, or stream music from the Music app when it's off.
  • The Downloaded Music setting contains a list of all the music currently downloaded on your iPhone and the amount of space it is using. When you need to free up storage space, tap Edit at the top of the Downloaded Music screen. Tap the red circle next to any entry to reveal the Delete option for that artist. Tap it to remove the song. Repeat until you are happy with the amount of available space you have available on the iPhone, which is displayed at the top of the Downloaded Music screen. Tap Done to close the editing screen.
  • The Music app can intelligently free up storage space for music. Turn on the Optimize Storage slider and the app will automatically delete music you haven't listened to in a while. If you want that music back, you can always redownload the music later.
  • If you subscribe to Apple Music, you can have any song you add to your library automatically downloaded for offline listening. Just move the Automatic Downloads slider to on/green.