Why So Many PC Games Are Too Loud (Especially At First)

Whether it’s the annoying splash screens at the start of a video game or a glitch in your sound settings, today’s games feel like they might be too loud. We’re going to take a close look at why today’s PC games are so much louder than before.

Speaker technology has gotten more powerful over the years which means that we’re capable of producing louder sounds even with a modest set up. It’s also possible to crank the volume on any video game and make it too loud regardless of release year or genre. A lot of action games are also packed with loud sound effects that might be too loud during long play sessions.

Let’s explore why games have gotten too loud, touch on a few examples, and see what you can do about regaining control over your volume.

Key Points

  • Most games aren’t usually “too loud” (or “too quiet”) – it’s mainly subjective.
  • However there are some bugs that can result in waaay too loud gaming audio.
  • Checking the Windows settings and headphones volume controls usually fixes these issues.
  • However if you’re still struggling, there are some third party volume control programs that work well.

Are Games Actually Too Loud?

Removing headset because its too loud
Removing headset because its too loud

There’s a lot to discuss when it comes to the question of are games too loud. We’re going to look at three key topics in this heated debate.

The first thing that we need to talk about, and one of the most important, is hearing health. You can do permanent damage to your ears by gaming with the volume too high for too long. This is especially true when it comes to headphones or in-ear buds.

However, this really isn’t about the games themselves. You can play any game at a safe listening volume with or without headphones. It’s up to you to adjust the settings or use a third-party program to limit the maximum volume of your games.

It’s also easier to get high power speakers than ever before. In the earliest days of PC gaming, speakers were an accessory and not a mandatory inclusion for gaming.

Since then, speakers have become an essential part of our gaming experience. This means that speaker companies are always looking to release more powerful technology And that means louder, more powerful speakers and smaller packages.

Your game might also be too loud for your comfort level depending on its genre. Action games are packed with gunshots, explosions, and heart pounding music that can be too much volume for too long depending on your taste.

On the other hand, horror video games are often extremely quiet until you get slammed by a jump-scare or thrown into a combat situation. That sudden change from quiet to loud might be off-putting for some players.

Two Examples of Common Game Sound Problems

We’ve got a few examples of sound problems and video games. Let’s take a look at three infamous video games that just couldn’t stick the landing when it came to volume.

Borderlands Franchise Splash Screens

The original Borderlands game
The original Borderlands game

The first Borderlands game was a runaway success that spawned an entire franchise. However, it was hit with a now-infamous audio problem.

Each time you boot up an old-school Borderlands game, you’ll be greeted by the 2K splash screen. The 2K company originally published the Borderlands games and they wanted to make sure that you knew they were involved.

Unfortunately, the way they made their presence known was with terrible audio mixing on the 2K splash screen. It was incredibly loud and contained mostly bass pumping sound effects and music.

Plenty of Borderlands players complained about having to turn the volume down while the game was booting to dodge the splash green, but then turn it back up during gameplay. One person on YouTube even modified the game files, deleting the noisy splash screen files from the hard disk:

Thankfully, 2K switched splash screens to something much more modest that wasn’t a distraction for players.

Red Dead Redemption 2’s Infamous Sound Bug

Red Dead Redemption 2 had a noteworthy volume bug that shows us that some of the causes of video games being too loud just comes down to glitches and other bugs.

Red Dead Redemption 2 had an infamous audio bug that would automatically lower the sliders of your system’s volume down to zero. Every time you booted up Red Dead Redemption 2, it would send all of your volume controls down to zero.

This means that you have to pop open your game and system settings to adjust all of your volume options back to where you like them:

This made playing the game a tedious experience. No one likes constantly having to mess with their menu settings when they could be gaming.

You might as well also get caught in a notable problem when adjusting your volume. Because it was dropped to zero, you might overcompensate and decide to crank your volume and accidentally get a sonic blast rather than a pleasant gaming experience.

Glitches like this are one of the reasons why games can also be too loud. Glitches can make it difficult to access volume settings or crash if you start messing with menu options.

The Pokemon Low HP Sound

It’s also worth taking a look at a console game that had a peculiar, but intended, high-volume sound effect.

The first several Pokemon games were plagued with a blaring low HP warning sound. Whenever a Pokemon’s HP got too low, you wouldn’t be able to hear anything else in the game besides a shattering beeping noise:

This definitely did its job as a warning that your Pokemon was low on health, but it was overkill in the extreme. This was especially the case for anyone wearing headphones with a classic Game Boy.

Later entries into the Pokemon universe either lower the volume of the sound effect or minimize how long it ran for.

How to Fix The Loud Volume in Your Game

Looking to get things back into a pleasant listening experience? We got five quick solutions for you to get back in control of your volume.

Understand the Volume Settings on Your PC

The first thing you need to do is understand the overly complicated nature of setting the volume on a PC.

When you ask people where their volume controls are located, they often point to the little slider that you can drag around on your desktop to a bar or to the keys on their keyboard that turn the volume up or down:

The volume slider on my system
The volume slider on my system

However, those aren’t the only place as your volume controls are.

You also have volume controls in your system settings. These are master volume and mixing controls that can change your overall audio experience.

You could also have volume controls inside of your game itself. Plenty of games come with their own internal volume controls allowing you to just everything from NPC voices to background music volume.

Some graphics cards and audio cards have their own volume controls. This creates another layer of complexity when attempting to control how loud your games are.

Finally, even some monitors have settings to control how loud the built-in speakers are:

Checking the monitor settings to ensure that the speakers are not muted
Checking the monitor settings to ensure that the speakers are not muted

If you can’t seem to lower the volume on your game, consider exploring these other possible locations for volume controls on your PC.

Check Your External Stereo or Headphone Volume Controls

There are even more places you can find volume controls, but some of these might not be in your PC at all.

External hardware like speakers, a stereo system, or your headphones can have their own independent volume controls. These physical volume controls (located somewhere on the cable wire) often act as a top layer of volume that rests on top of the controls inside the software on your PC.

Two external speakers (a headset and headphones) plugged into my PC case
Two external speakers (a headset and headphones) plugged into my PC case

Plenty of players have accidentally cranked the volume inside of their PC and then adjusted a physical knob on a speaker only to get hit with an unpleasantly loud gaming experience.

We recommend starting with all of the knobs at a uniform, but low, setting and slowly working them up until you get to a volume that you’re comfortable with.

Use the Ear Protection Setting With Headphones

A great way to stay in control of the volume is to use the ear protection settings on your headphones.

Plenty of high-end headphones now ship with hearing protection controls in place. This is also the case if you are gaming on your smartphone which naturally has its own built-in hearing protection settings, for example on Android the “Sound” settings has a “Safety Headphones” (or “Reduce loud sounds”) option too.

These settings can limit the top of volume that your headphones can make. This means that you won’t be getting hit with any sounds that are too loud for your comfort levels.

Use Your Balance Settings

You can also go into the sound settings on your PC and adjust the balance. The balance setting adjusts how loud the left and right side of your headphones or speaker system are. Lowering the balance uniformly lowers the maximum volume of your speaker system.

Try a Third-Party Volume Control App

Another option is to rely on third-party software to get some real control over the volume on your PC.

Programs like Quiet On The Set allow you to have a master volume control that supersedes all the other options in your PC. These programs also allow you to set a maximum volume for your PC which means that it will never be able to exceed a certain decibel level that you determine in advance.

cropped A picture of me Tristan
About Tristan Perry

Tristan has been interested in computer hardware and software since he was 10 years old. He has built loads of computers over the years, along with installing, modifying and writing software (he's a backend software developer 'by trade').

Tristan also has an academic background in technology (in Math and Computer Science), so he enjoys drilling into the deeper aspects of technology.

Tristan is also an avid PC gamer, with FFX and Rocket League being his favorite games.

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