Why does the volume option often have over 100%?

I’m very new to linux and have only tried out 2 distros so far. Both had sound volume options greater than 100%, and from what I can gather this seems to be common in most distros?

My question is, why? As a new user it just seems like a spinal tap “these go to 11” type thing. It’s there a specific reason for this that I’ve not come across yet? I can’t see why they don’t just go to 100% with the same actual volume range…

1 Like

I’ve often wondered this, too.

1 Like

I can only guess, but i think that you should think of volume greater than 100% as overamplification. Sound quality could be distorted if you go past 100%.

As the reasoning why it is there by default. I have no idea.



In fact if you only use the older Alsa there is no option like that IIRC. It came with Pulse, what is now widely used on any Linux distribution.

I find it very handy because sometimes movies or an audio file of worse quality can be too quiet.
One example is when I am in the kitchen and watch a Netflix show on my laptop, the audio of some shows is too quiet especially in a cooking environment. Of course it can and will distort the sound.


I don’t use > 100% for audio output but I’ve had situations where raising it for a microphone was necessary.

It is actually very useful, although not common in other operating systems. Sometimes you have some media or even you are on a conference call at work and the sound is super quiet - being able to over-amplify means you can hear it much better. This is generally not useful for music where it will likely be distorted but certainly is a really useful feature for every day tech life.

1 Like

I think this for laptops.

A lot of laptops are getting thinner and thinner. I got an HP laptop which is so thin, they just slapped the battery pack in a plastic back and stuck it in. HP included some special third party software with it just for those speakers. I disabled it once. Then the speakers no only sounded terrible, i could barely hear them.

I also have a mid range laptop in which sometimes I cannot hear a video playing so I use that 150% to get it si a sound level I can hear.

Ahhh Yes that makes sense actually, the sound on my new laptop is pretty terrible, it’s very quiet and I’ve found myself having to max out the volume on a few occasions.

1 Like