AudioFilter: Help me listen to podcasts in the car
April 20, 2016 9:11 AM   Subscribe

I play podcasts from my Android device through an external-audio input cable in my car. The volume range gives me migraines. Please help?

My main problem is that the range of sound intensity is far too large -- it goes from inaudible whispering (lookin' at you, Ira Glass) to completely unbearable blare (clips of transition music, audience applause on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, laughter, sometimes just a badly mixed participant) and back, within every podcast, in seconds. I've tried messing with the balance on my car audio, without success.

Unfortunately, I get migraines from loud sounds. I want to fix the sound levels so that I can listen to podcasts without hovering constantly over the volume knob.

The external-input cable is the only interface I have in the car. We wonder if it's that the phone audio output is tuned to headphones, so has a bigger audio range? If so, an app might exist to help adjust the gain? My Google-fu isn't leading me in helpful directions, so I'm hoping some audiophiles here might help.
posted by Dashy to Technology (5 answers total)
What you want is dynamic range compression. Luckily, this looks possible on android, if you're cool with rooting your phone, or possibly using cyanogenmod (I don't know anything about android). My google search term 'android dynamic range compression' turned up (pun unintentional) a lot of hits.

This volume issue really bugs me, too, but I'm stuck on iOS for now. Good luck!
posted by destructive cactus at 10:13 AM on April 20, 2016

This is a feature in some podcast apps, sometimes called Smart Voice / Voice Boost / Smart Sound / Volume Normalization / etc. as it appears to be a common problem.

Pocket Casts offers this feature; unfortunately I have no experience with it (I use Overcast on iOS).
posted by meowzilla at 10:34 AM on April 20, 2016

I think what you really want is Normalization which is slightly different that dynamic range compression.

You could potentially run the podcast audio files through software Normalization before putting them on the phone. This certainly adds a level of inconvenience but it may be worth while if it fixes your problems.

You can use Audacity on a problem episode to see if you can fix it to suite your needs

Audacity Normalization
posted by jmsta at 10:41 AM on April 20, 2016

Yeah, normalization will do it, as long as there aren't any huge peaks. I suspect there are huge peaks...
posted by destructive cactus at 11:14 AM on April 20, 2016

Yes, I think dynamic range compression is what I want, but Pocket Cast's "volume boost" feature seems to help, at any rate. Thanks!
posted by Dashy at 8:24 AM on May 12, 2016

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