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Very often I have noticed that whenever a video or audio is played on the most common sites (like youtube, vimeo, facebook, soundcloud..) the volume is always at the maximum by default. Now, I am not sure if theres a way to change that and make the default volume level to be always say at 50% using browser settings or through code. I have seen many people not being pleased with the max level of the volume as default.

So my question is, what would be the ideal level for the volume to be set as default ? and is there a way to give the user an option to save their preferences related to the media player?

Update:
Would it be good practice to remove the audio volume control entirely and let users control the same through system volume ?? That way it will be more or less constant in a way..

  • 1
    I believe it is the difference in volume between videos that bug people. Some clips are recorded with a soft voice on a in-camera microphone, others have audio tracks compressed beyond belief. So, if you have control over the media being shown, make sure the audio levels are the same or similar. – Tom Jul 11 '14 at 7:33
  • update edit: Edited the question – Vinay Jul 14 '14 at 3:29
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This is always a problem, but users tend to control volume on the system rather than the application to avoid having two different controls to manage. Because of that - application volume should follow de facto standard, which is 100%.

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This might be an issue depending on the machine or the system. Most users on OSX/Windows and mobile use the system sound as a controller so having the volume on 100% is fine because most applications and websites are being launched at full sound and the machine is not outputting the volume at 100%.

I also believe that 100% volume is the standard.

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This is not always true. I watch a lot of video on the internet, and the default volume differs per site. On thedailyshow.cc.com for example, the volume is about 60% and I've seen of a few sites where the default is about 85%. I would think that a volume of about 60 would be right, as this allows users to both increase or decrease the volume how they like it.

What I mean by this is NOT that you should lower the volume of your video by 40%, but rather keep the volume the same and just "call" it 60%. This way, most users won't need the volume controls, but when needed the can adjust it both ways. And why 60 and not 10 for example? 10 would mean that the user can only lower the volume in 10 stages, and with a slider (like youtube does for example) it's almost impossible to distinguish between 10 and 6 for example, even though 6 and 10 would be a huge difference then. And with 60 as a default, users can increase volume by about 70% which should be more than enough in most cases.

On the other hand you could argue that 100% would be better, because it's easily recognisable. For example, if someone lowers the volume from about 60 to 30 and then want to reset it, how do they know what the default value was? With 100% this would be easier, as you could just crank it al the way up.

Keep in mind though, that users can always change system volume. I barely use the volume of the video itself, because system volume is universal for all applications. The only time i DO need it, is when I'm playing music and a video, or multiple videos at the same time, for example 1 music video for entertainment on the side while I'm actually watching a howto or something, which barely happens at all.

  • I know that user have the option of controlling the volume through the system settings, but what is annoying is that videos play on max and each time users have to slow it down on the media player or system. But then when its done on the system they may have to change it again to suit it for some other application. – Vinay Jul 11 '14 at 17:41
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It's not a complete answer, but I was on a site the other day that auto-ran videos. Which is normally incredibly annoying, but they had set the volume to mute (0%) by default and used subtitles.

  • Having the volume set on the extremes (say 0% or 100%) are not good UX. Although 0% is less annoying in a way, but still user needs to change it and then sometimes might even confuse the user until they actually notice it being at 0%. – Vinay Jul 14 '14 at 3:25
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    "Having the volume set on the extremes are not good UX" Do you have anything to back up this sweeping statement? In the annecdote I gave the designer had used 0% volume and subtitles in the video to solve the problem of autoplaying videos & make it clear to the user that the sound was off intentionally. Seemed like a neat solution that got me more engaged with the content than if it had played with sound. – edeverett Jul 14 '14 at 9:08
  • Sorry, my words needs to be rephrased as - Having the volume set on the extremes might not be good UX. Couldnt find any research done on this though. But then as mentioned by BennySkoberg, 100% seems to be the defacto standard. – Vinay Jul 16 '14 at 4:43

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