How Do I Equalize Volume in My Streaming Setup?

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Q My friend uses an iPod touch to stream Pandora Internet Radio over a speaker system at his outdoor tiki bar but is having a problem with some songs playing louder than others. I have gone into his iPod’s General Settings menu and activated the Sound Check button, but that feature only seems to work for tracks played in iTunes. Is there an in-line device with 3.5mm connectors that can hook up to the iPod’s headphone jack to level the audio output?—J. Glemming / Calabash, NC

A I don’t know of any in-line adapter with 3.5mm jacks that does what you’re looking for, but other solutions exist. The most basic one is to set a maximum volume level using the Volume Limit control in the Music tab of the iPod’s Settings menu. This won’t do anything to boost the level of quiet songs, but it will prevent louder ones from blasting people off their bamboo-covered barstools. You can even lock the settings with a passcode so intrusive revelers don’t muck with it.

A better solution here, of course, will be to level the volume of all songs, both quiet and loud. As you already know, the iPod’s SoundCheck feature only works to stabilize the volume of iTunes tracks. But there is one not-too-expensive hardware solution I know of: Gefen’s Auto Volume Stabilizer (around $150), which incorporates Dolby Volume processing. The main function of Dolby Volume is to even out the audio levels of TV shows and the loud, obnoxious commercials that interrupt them, but it can also be used for music. (We’re talking background tunes in a tiki bar here, so let’s leave any audiophile sound quality considerations on the sidewalk.)