I have a few audio files that are being used as a part of my Android application. What I do not understand is, when I apply volume boost to an audio file, say an MP3 file through applications like Audacity, I can only boost their volume to a very bare minimum degree. Any more from that fine limit results into clipping. On the other hand, when I simply play the same MP3 file through a media player such as VLC, the audio volume can be boosted to a much greater degree without clipping or any distortion for that matter.

Why does this happen? While batch editing of MP3 files, is it possible to capture and achieve the quality of audibility like that of VLC player's volume boost?

2 Answers 2


Digital was meant to work around a reference point of -20dB. Unfortunately someone in the music industry didn't get the note so we're now stuck with everything pushing the 0 as much as it can, and people listening to flat dynamics material.

No you cannot amplify digital files past 0dB the same way VLC will let you. That slider is the digital equivalent of a volume knob.

With nice sounds, people turn up the volume themselves.

On the other hand, very dynamic sounds such as e.g. gunshots, explosions, etc, need compression prior to playback. That's a whole chapter of technicalities and aesthetics. It opens with "it depends".


I guess maybe VLC's volume boost works like a compressor/maximizer, not just as simple leveling up algorithm. I'm not using VLC, but many players has such feature.

  • no it's a volume control that goes past 100%. vlc also has a compressor effect but that's separate.
    – georgi
    Feb 7, 2014 at 12:28

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