Some audio devices don’t support keyboard volume controls. You can usually identify these devices by the volume knob that they have. One of our favorite devices is the Audio Engine D1. It’s a great affordable DAC/Headphone amp. Unfortunately there are two problems with it. Fortunately Sound Siphon solves both of them… for free!
It doesn’t support keyboard volume controls.
If you ever see this symbol when trying to change the volume on your Mac, it means that the output device you have selected doesn’t allow setting it’s volume. You’re supposed to change the volume directly on the device.
The volume doesn’t go low enough.
Typically, the potentiometers used to control volume usually don’t work well at extremely low volumes. The volume needs to be turned up a bit to get clear balanced audio in both left and right channels. This isn’t a problem if you don’t need to use extremely low levels, but if you are using sensitive headphones the volume on the output device you’re using might not go low enough with good results. This what we run into with the D1 and our pair of Grado SR80i headphones.
To solve both of these issues:
- Launch the Sound Siphon app.
- In Sound Siphon’s preferences select your output device as the output device.
- Turn Sound Siphon on.
Sound Siphon processes the audio before it goes to your output device. Now you can use your keyboard to control the volume. This also lets you turn the volume up on your output device and use the keyboard volume controls to reduce the volume to the desired level.
Here you see keyboard controls working with our Audio Engine D1. You can download Sound Siphon for free. While you’re at it check out the other great features that Sound Siphon offers.