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Sony Walkman low volume problem

I recently bought a Sony Walkman NWZ-E454 and I thought the volume level seemed low, which indeed it was compared to an older model I have. This post details my findings, which will hopefully help others with this same problem. If anyone from What Hi*Fi reads this, pershps you could highlight this problem in the magazine.

Checking on the Internet confirmed quite a number of people reporting the same issue. It is due to Sony comlying with some EU directive to limit volume in such devices to protect people's hearing. Whilst that is a noble cause, there is no way to override it, epecially in situations where that might be desirable, such as listening to quiet music in a noisy envionment, using less sensitive headphones, and playing music through the line level input on an amplifier, when it is necessary to turn the vloume control a long way up on the amplifier.

The way in which the limitation is made is via the sound protection system (SPS), which is different from the AVLS which the user CAN control. You can check if SPS is on using 'Test Mode', which needs a specific key sequence to enter (search the Internet for your model and 'test mode'). However, for my model, and I'm sure many other recent ones, it is ABSOLUTELY NOT possible to change the SPS mode setting using the test menu. Reports that people may have done so are probably down to people takng the VIDEO OUT option from the test menu, which the service manual warns against because it can set the destination to Japan, with default language of Japanese, and a strange FM range which is no use in the UK. I know because I did it!

The only way to change the destination, which sets the language, FM range and SPS is to use some sofetware called the 'Destination Setting Tool', which is only nornally available to Sony staff. Fortuanately I found a friendly service centre which emailed me the files (folder NWZE35XE45X_DEST_Setting_EU. I first ran the WMT_CEW (Western Europe) version, which got me back to the original state, but with SPS enabled. I then tried the WMT_CEV (a different part of Europe) file and at last SPS was disabled! I now get the volume I used to have at 30 at 15.

I think this volume problem should be made widely known, so people don't buy units and are then disappointed, and I think Sony should be lobbied to make SPS an option which can be switched off under user control, after a suitable warning has been given.

Anonymous
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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

Hi

I'm having the same problem too - it's so frustrating! I asked my local centre about this destination setting tool but they don't know about it. My Walkman is a different model, but is there any chance that you could please give me the email address of your local centre so that I can contact them about this? I'd be very grateful.

 

Thank you

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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

As a temporary measure, try the FiiO E5 amplifier. My NWZ-A847 sounds great with this unit and it's only £11

Anonymous
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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

Sorry for the delay in responding, carryoutkyle.  I feel it's not really fair to identify one particular service centre, however try calling your local service centre (not the Sony Centre shops). I did with mine and gave them the model number and explained I needed the "destination setting tool". The guy looked it up (he had a slightly different name for it) on the Sony (intranet) system in a few moments, and then emailed it to me. He also asked if I wanted the instructions, but I already had those (connect your player, run the updating-mtp batch file from an unzipped folder, and enter "y" <return> at the prompt. Some text will appear on the player's screen to show progress. Good luck!

PLEASE NOTE - VERY IMPORTANT - THE PROCESS RE-FORMATS THE PLAYER'S MEMORY, SO COPY ALL FOLDERS AND FILES TO YOUR PC BEFORE YOU START!!!

Anonymous
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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

Hi sixpencenonthericher

Thanks for the reply.

 

I've tried 2 local service centres who claim to not know what I'm talking about even after I showed them the link to this forum, and I've also contacted Sony HQ who are also denying knowledge of this but say they will 'look into it'.

 

 

Anonymous
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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

Hi sixpencenonthericher

Thanks for the reply.

I've tried 2 local service centres who claim to not know what I'm talking about even after I showed them the link to this forum, and I've also contacted Sony HQ who are also denying knowledge of this but say they will 'look into it'.

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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

not sure why they're being shifty about it, it's a well-known fact that Euro legislation limits the output.

Perhaps you've just been unlucky to only talk to people who don't know about it.

Anonymous
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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

Or not telling you in case you go deaf and sue them......more likely!

Anonymous
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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

Though I was lucky with the service centre, when I asked about the software in the local Sony shop, they were evasive and eventually said it would be 'illegal' to do that, although I'm not sure exactly what law would be broken!

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RE:

Sounds like they knew what you were on about then. They're right: disabling the output limiter in Eurozone is illegal.

sixpencenonthericher wrote:
I'm not sure exactly what law would be broken!

I can't tell you the exact name of it but it's a Euro law which limits the audio output from all mobile audio devices to a certain number of millivolts at 0db. If you're listening to quiet music or using less sensitive headphones, your knackered.
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RE:

As if often the case, the EU somewhat unfairly gets the blame: The regulation is

 

"Safe exposure levels shall be the "default" settings on products. The mandate does not prescribe specific technical solutions in order not to stifle the capacity of industry to innovate. Instead it requires manufactures to provide that the default settings for normal usage meet safety requirements.

The mandate makes it clear that safe use depends on exposure time and volume levels. At 80 dB(A), exposure should be limited to 40 hours/week. At 89 dB(A) exposure should not exceed 5 hours/week.

The safe exposure levels defined above shall be the default settings on products. Higher exposure levels can be permitted, provided that they have been intentionally selected by the user and the product incorporates a reliable means to inform the user of the risks."

 

It is perfectly legal to provide a mechanism for raising the default - it just seems that Sony have chosen no to do so. On my sandisk for example, the limit is easy to circumvent. Having an 11 year old with an ipod, I am glad that it is configured so he cannot easily damage his hearing.

Anonymous
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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

Hi sixpencenonthericher

I'm having the same problem too - VIDEO OUT Smile -> now the volume is perfect but cannot use the FM radio! My Walkman is a E354 model so it has the same firmware. Could you upload somewhere or email me the NWZE35XE45X_DEST_Setting_EU folder.

I'd be very grateful. Thank you.

Anonymous
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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

The problem of mine is that the sound is too  pandemoniac,I don't know why.

Anonymous
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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

I have an NWZ-E454 and suffered the same volume problems. Solved this by going into the test menu and increasing the B gain and T gain as others have done. The side effect was to change the FM range to the japanese range and I still have this problem. I tried to obtain the Destination Setting Tool from Sony but with no success either from emails or phone calls. Is there anyone out there who can email me a copy of this please.

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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

I bought the NWZ-A865 3-days ago having basically had enough of fiddling between using my mobile as both a music player and a phone (stupid lead gets in the way!)

So far I’ve been mightily impressed with the SQ following some EQ tweaking, but agreed the volume level just doesn’t hit the spot on the Sony. I was aware of the low volume “problem” beforehand having researched it elsewhere, but as this is my first dedicated player I had/have no idea how it compares with the competition. It’s just a pity that hi-fi/music enthusiasts don’t put the same effort in to hacking their players as smartphone users put in to hacking their phones.

As it appears that the A86x series hasn't been hacked it looks like come payday next month I'll have to invest in a third box to carry around with me in the form of a portable headphone amp. I certainly don't need it, but unfortunately it sees to be the only aolution at present.

Anonymous
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RE: Sony Walkman low volume problem

Hello sixpencenonthericher,

Could you please, please, please upload the NWZE35XE45X_DEST_Setting_EU file somewhere?

It would be a great help.

 

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