Sound Check is a feature on Apple Music and iTunes that allows all of your songs to play at the same volume level because some songs are louder than others.
In this article, I’m going to explain everything you need to know about Apple Music Sound Check, including what to do if the Apple Music Sound Check is not working.
How does Apple Music Sound Check work?
Sound Check, also known as Loudness Normalization, is a feature available in Apple Music and iTunes that lets listeners hear all their songs at approximately the same loudness.
According to Apple, here’s how Sound Check works:
Sound Check first determines the loudness of a track and then stores that information in the file’s metadata. The metadata is then used to raise or lower the volume of each track to prevent jarring volume changes while a device is shuffling songs.
But why do you need Sound Check in the first place? Well, it’s because some songs are created louder than others, depending on the file quality, recording, or genre of music being played.
Without Sound Check, you could be listening to a song at a perfectly reasonable volume, only to be blasted by the loud volume of the next song on Apple Music.
The Sound Check feature can also correctly set the volume per album, rather than per song, allowing albums that rely on volume differences between tracks.
For example, Sound Check on Apple Music can correctly set the volume for The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, to maintain their intended volumes for the entire track on the album.
Does Sound Check make the music louder?
Sound Check doesn’t make the music louder. In fact, songs that have been mastered loud will be played back at a lower volume which can make tracks actually sound weaker.
This is true with other volume-controlling technologies. Spotify has its own version called audio normalization, which is the equivalent of Sound Check on Apple Music.
Does Sound Check affect quality?
Sound Check does NOT reduce the quality of your music. Please stop with this misinformation because I’ve seen many websites out there saying Sound Check affects the song quality.
Sound Check only looks at the metadata of the song to determine the average volume, then raises or decreases the playback volume so you have a more consistent listening experience.
It also doesn’t “normalize” the files and raise the volume of quieter sections within a song to make them match the louder parts. The dynamic range throughout the song is the same.
Should you turn on Sound Check on Apple Music?
Because many such technologies are available to listeners, you should always mix and master your tracks in a way that captures your intended sound, regardless of playback volume.
If you want Apple Music to play songs in its original “loudness” without Apple tampering with the way it should sound, then you should disable the Sound Check feature.
On the other hand, if you don’t want to keep changing the volume on your device, and you want to enjoy a group of songs at more or less the same volume, you should turn on Sound Check.
Sound Check doesn’t compress the audio quality at all. It only changes the volume level. Just try it. If you like it, keep it on, if you don’t just turn it off. Some people enjoy it, some just don’t.
I used to prefer having it off, but especially with so much Dolby Atmos content on Apple Music right now, I feel like the Sound Check feature needs to be turned on.
Sound Check is useful with Dolby Atmos because it’ll make stereo and Atmos tracks play at the same volume. It ensures that I don’t go deaf between listening to Atmos and stereo versions.
I really do think that Sound Check definitely helps, although you can still notice a slight loudness difference at times, especially if you have a playlist with mixed genres.
What to do if Apple Music Sound Check is not working
Now that you understand how Sound Check works, it’s time for some troubleshooting. Many people have noticed that Apple Music Sound Check is not working for them.
Sometimes, it doesn’t have the intended effect of “normalizing” volume across all tracks. Most of the tracks are similar in volume but some are quite a bit louder.
In my case, I have to adjust the volume because some songs are too loud or too quiet, something I’ve had to do frequently as I usually shuffle my entire music collection.
After many hours of tweaking and experimentation, I’ve discovered a workaround to get Apple Music Sound Check working at its maximum potential. You’ll need a MacBook for this.
1. Adjust the volume to 100% for all tracks using a MacBook
Using a MacBook, you can change the volume for all songs or for individual songs, or set songs to play at the same volume. This is why I said you’ll need a MacBook for this hack.
On your MacBook, highlight all of your tracks and then right-click. Select Song Info and then navigate to Options where you’ll see the option to drag the volume slider.
Drag the volume slider to +100% and then click OK. It took me about 10 minutes for Apple Music to apply the settings on all of my 15,000 tracks in my library.
2. Turn on Sound Check on all devices
Once you’ve maximized the volume of all songs, turn on the Sound Check option. Navigate to Music > Preferences or Music > Settings. Click the Playback tab and select Sound Check.
You should also turn on Sound Check on your other devices, like your iPhone and iPad if you have them. Go to Settings, tap on Music, and select the Sound Check toggle.
3. Allow your library to sync across devices
Once Sound Check is activated on all devices, allow your library to sync across your devices. Doing this will allow Apple Music to apply the settings you’ve set up.
On your Mac, open the Apple Music app. Navigate to File > Library > Organize Library. Then select Consolidate files. Then, navigate to Music > Settings or Music > Preferences.
Click the General tab and select Sync Library. Once you’re done, click OK. Wait for your library to sync. To check the status, go to the bottom of the sidebar and click Updating Cloud Library.
You should also do this on your mobile device. Make sure it’s signed in with the same Apple ID, then navigate to Settings > Music. Then, make sure to select the Sync Library toggle.
And that’s it. After increasing the volume of all my tracks to 100% Sound Check brings everything down to a more or less equal level. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough.
Because Sound Check is only effective at reducing overly loud tracks, increasing the volume of all the tracks on Apple Music will allow them to play at the same loudness level.