Fixing low sound volume in Linux

Bryan Cairns (VoidRealms)
4 min readMar 21, 2022


If you are reading this, you are probably a tech-savvy person and a search engine brought you here. Not to worry we are going to present the problem and multiple solutions.

I love Linux — but — it does have some issues. Namely the distros I use (Linux Mint / Ubuntu) has notoriously had sound issues. The most annoying sound issue is low volume.

Its seems like such a trivial thing, but as I fire up my new Sony wh-xb910n sound canceling headphones, crank the volume to max and …well…I’m not impressed. I flipped the headphones around looking for a physical volume button.


Reading Sony’s web site, the headset uses the volume sent to it by the connected device

I connected the headphones to Android, iPhone, and Windows (eewwww) — all of them had flawless performance, so its not the headphones.

Some distros allow you to over-ride the volume beyond 100%.

Linux mint does have the option but its not working great. Even with amplification I end up straining to hear some YouTube videos.

Diving into google I found various ways:


Alsamixer has worked great in the past but as you can see I had it maxed, and still not loud enough.

  1. Open a terminal. (The quickest way is the Ctrl-Alt-T shortcut.)
  2. Enter “alsamixer” and press the Enter key.
  3. You will now see a user interface. In this user interface, you can do the following: Select your correct sound card using F6 and select F5 to see recording controls as well.


sudo apt install pulseaudio-equalizer

This is pretty awesome, lots of things to fiddle with, especially if you are an audio nerd. But it really did not give me a direct means to simply increase the volume. Auto gain seemed to help but not by much.


sudo apt install pavucontrol

Almost at defeat I ended up on this page:

And the Mint Forums to the rescue.

basically two commands:

pacmd list-sinks

pactl set-sink-volume 4 100%

The first command (pacmd list-sinks) will display all the audio sinks and all the details associated with them. And I do mean ALL the details.

Basically you need to scroll through the information to find the device you want, and see which audio sink index it is on. For my, my Bluetooth headphones are on index 3.

Using “pactl set-sink-volume” you can change the volume of the sink.


Side note….don’t start with 200% as my ears are still ringing.

I noticed as I rebooted, or fiddled with pulse audio effects, the headphones would change sinks.

Sometimes it would be on 1, others on 3 or 4.

Python to the rescue

I made a simple python script that lists all the devices with their sink and lets you pick the device, and change the volume up to 200%. And put the source on github

Let me know if you like it.