[pulseaudio-discuss] Removing volume sliders from media player UIs (was Re: Standardising on the amount of software amplification is presented to the user)

Tanu Kaskinen tanuk at iki.fi
Mon Apr 26 22:33:36 PDT 2010

Sorry for a late reply...

On Sat, 2010-04-17 at 18:13 +0200, Jan Braun wrote:
> Tanu Kaskinen schrob:
> > If your model works for you, then that's great. If you do it right, you
> > have to change the volume as often as with the device-volume-only model.
> > So even if you're doing it right, I believe you don't actually win
> > anything over those who use the device-volume-only model.
> An "incoming email"-notification not waking my neighbors because I was
> watching a youtube-video with extremely low sond levels is a pretty big
> win.
> > The problem
> > with your model is that it takes mental effort to do it right: [...]
> > If a user has hardware volume dials or buttons and applications also
> > have their own volume sliders, it's really easy to fail to obey your
> > rules of volume adjustment: [...]
> Well, it's easy to fail any rules if you have both per-app and hw
> sliders, and don't think about what you're doing ;)
> At least if you actually want to change different applications' volume
> relative to each other.
> > I believe most users haven't thought the concepts of device volume and
> > stream volume to begin with, so they don't know the rules that you know,
> > and therefore making wrong choices is very common if both the device and
> > the stream volumes are easy to change.
> Aha. So you propose/defend making the per-app volume sliders difficult
> to change to prevent users shooting themselves in the foot?

Yes. Well, just in order to avoid misunderstanding, I don't propose
making it "difficult", just significantly less convenient than changing
the device volume (i.e. changing per-app volumes would require
navigating to a "sound preferences" utility of some sort).

> > Compare that with the no-application-sliders case: the user uses always
> > the hardware controls, or alternatively the volume applet. Both of those
> > control the device volume. Now when the music player plays a good song,
> > the user turns the device volume up. Again, this messes up the volumes
> > of all other applications. But, this will be fixed the first time the
> > user notices too loud volume - he will again adjust the device volume.
> After waking the neighbors, and then he'll not be able to understand the
> rest of that video.
> > Doing this one adjustment fixes it for all applications. Note that even
> > managing to do your model right doesn't win anything: as soon as the
> > good song stops playing, you still need to lower the loud volume in the
> > music player.
> Well, of course. Ideally, every per-app and the hw volume are set to
> good default values. You change them because that good song comes up (or
> whatever), and after it's done, you change them back.
> The only question is if you change the per-app volume or the hw volume.

Yes, that's the question. And in terms of how often you need to adjust
the volume, it doesn't matter which volume you change, as long as you
use the same volume control consistently, i.e. not turning the volume up
using the device volume and turning it down using the per-app volume.
But if you use per-app volume, you can't use the (hypothetical) volume
slider on your keyboard, which is a good reason to use device volume

I usually use the volume dial on my keyboard, but it has happened that I
didn't quite think what I was doing and I changed the stream volume
using the volume slider in Rhythmbox, causing some minor but unnecessary
inconvenience - the conclusion: a conveniently available stream volume
slider in Rhythmbox is a bad thing, in addition to being mostly
redundant (it's only needed when the relative volume to other apps needs
to be changed, which mostly (only?) means situations where two
applications are playing simultaneously).

> > The notification sound issue may be solved in the future by making event
> > sound level's relative to the actual current sound level. That is, if
> > you play badly normalized stuff (too quiet), pulseaudio knows this and
> > plays event sounds quietly too.
> That might help.

If I've understood correctly, too loud event sounds are your only major
gripe with my proposal. If so, I guess this "smart event volume" is some
kind of a priority for me, in case it isn't for Lennart.

Tanu Kaskinen

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