Volume: What Does It Do In Music Gear?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 24, 2022

Always the latest guitar gear & tricks?

Subscribe to THE newsletter for aspiring guitarists

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

hi there I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Volume is one of the most important controls in your guitar or bass rig. It allows you to adjust the level of your playing or singing so that it matches the other musicians in the band. But what does it do exactly?

When you turn up the volume on your guitar or bass, it increases the intensity of the signal. This allows the sound to be heard more clearly by the listener.

In this article, I’ll explain everything you need to know about volume and how to use it effectively in your guitar and bass rig.

What is volume

What’s the Big Deal About Volume?

What is Volume?

Volume is basically the same thing as loudness. It’s the amount of oomph you get when you turn up the dial. Whether you’re cranking up the tunes in your car, or tweaking the knobs on your guitar amp, volume is the key to getting the sound just right.

What Does Volume Do?

Volume controls the loudness of your sound system, but it doesn’t change the tone. It’s like the volume knob on your TV – it just makes it louder or softer. Here’s the lowdown on what volume does:

  • Amplifies the sound: Volume increases the loudness of the sound.
  • Doesn’t change the tone: Volume doesn’t alter the sound, it just makes it louder.
  • Controls the output: Volume is the level of the sound coming out of your speakers.

How to Use Volume

If you want to get the most out of your sound system, you need to know how to use volume. Here’s the scoop:

  • Mixing: When you’re mixing, the volume is the level you send from your channel to your stereo output.
  • Guitar amp: When you’re using a guitar amp, the volume is how loud you set the amp.
  • Car: When you’re in your car, the volume is how loud you turn your music up on your speakers.

So there you have it – volume is the key to getting the perfect sound. Just remember, it’s all about the loudness, not the tone!

Gain Staging: What’s the Big Deal?

Gain vs. Volume: What’s the Difference?

Gain and volume can seem like the same thing, but they’re not! Knowing the difference between the two is essential for getting the best sound out of your mix. Here’s the lowdown:

  • Gain is the amount of amplification you add to a signal, while volume is the overall loudness of the signal.
  • Gain is usually adjusted before volume, and it’s important to make sure the dB level of the signal is consistent throughout the entire processing system.
  • If you don’t adjust the gain properly, you won’t know if the plugin is actually making the instrument sound better or just louder.

Gain Staging: What’s the Point?

Gain staging is the process of making sure the dB level of a sound is consistent throughout the entire processing system. It’s important for two reasons:

  • Our ears perceive louder sounds as “better” than softer sounds, so if you don’t make the loudness level consistent from one plugin to the next, your judgement won’t be accurate.
  • You need to adjust the gain for each plugin you use. For example, if you put on a compressor, you need to use the makeup gain to compensate for the volume lost.

Mixing with Pink Noise

If you’re having trouble getting your volume balance right, try mixing with pink noise. It’ll give you a solid reference level for how loud each part of your mix should be. It’s like a secret weapon for getting your mix just right!

Wrapping it Up: Gain vs Volume

The Basics

So here’s the dealio: gain and volume are like two peas in a pod, but they’re actually quite different. Volume is how loud the OUTPUT of the channel or amp is. It’s all about loudness, not tone. And gain is how loud the INPUT of the channel or amp is. It’s all about tone, not loudness. Got it?

The Benefits of Gain Staging

Gain staging is a great way to make sure your mix is radio-ready. It helps you keep your levels consistent, and it can make your mix sound more powerful. Plus, it’s super easy to do. All you need is our FREE volume balancing cheat sheet. It’ll help you take the next step and make your mixes even better.

The Final Word

So there you have it: gain and volume are two different things, but they both play a big role in making your mix sound great. With the help of our FREE volume balancing cheat sheet, you’ll be able to make your mixes even more powerful and consistent. So don’t wait – grab it now and get to work!

Turn it Up to 11: Exploring the Relationship Between Audio Gain and Volume

Gain: The Amplitude Adjuster

Gain is like the volume knob on steroids. It controls the amplitude of the audio signal as it passes through the device. It’s like a bouncer at a club, deciding who gets to come in and who gets to stay out.

Volume: The Loudness Controller

Volume is like the volume knob on steroids. It controls how loud the audio signal will be when it leaves the device. It’s like a DJ at a club, deciding how loud the music should be.

Breaking it Down

Gain and volume are often confused, but they’re really two different things. To understand the difference, let’s break an amplifier into two parts: preamp and power.

  • Preamp: This is the part of the amplifier that adjusts the gain. It’s like a filter, deciding how much of the signal gets through.
  • Power: This is the part of the amplifier that adjusts the volume. It’s like a volume knob, deciding how loud the signal will be.

Making Adjustments

Let’s say we have a guitar input signal of 1 volt. We set the gain to 25% and the volume to 25%. This limits how much signal makes its way into the other stages, but still gives us a decent output of 16 volts. The signal is still quite clean because of the lower gain setting.

Increasing Gain

Now let’s say we increase the gain to 75%. The signal from the guitar is still 1 volt, but now a majority of the signal from stage 1 makes its way to the other stages. This added audio gain hits the stages harder, driving them into distortion. Once the signal leaves the preamp, it’s distorted and is now a 40-volt output!

The volume control is still set at 25%, sending only a quarter of the preamp signal it has received. With a 10-volt signal, the power amp increases it and the listener experiences 82 decibels through the speaker. The sound from the speaker would be distorted thanks to the preamp.

Increasing Volume

Finally, let’s say we leave the preamp alone but crank up the volume to 75%. We now have a loudness level of 120 decibels and wow what a change in intensity! The gain setting is still at 75%, so the preamp output and distortion are the same. But the volume control is now letting a majority of the preamp signal work its way to the power amplifier.

So there you have it! Gain and volume are two different things, but they do interact with each other to control the loudness. With the right settings, you can get the sound you want without sacrificing quality.


Volume Vs Loudness

Volume and loudness are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually have different meanings. Volume is a measure of the amount of sound, while loudness is a measure of the intensity of the sound. So, if you turn up the volume, you’re increasing the amount of sound, while if you turn up the loudness, you’re making the sound louder. In other words, volume is how much sound there is, while loudness is how loud it is. So if you want to really crank up the tunes, you’ll want to turn up the loudness, not the volume!


In conclusion, volume is an important part of the music-making process, and understanding it can help you get the most out of your gear. So don’t be afraid to crank up the volume and experiment with it – just remember to keep it at a reasonable level so you don’t blow out your speakers! And don’t forget the golden rule: “Turn it up to 11.unless you’re using a BASS amp, then you can go to 12!”

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

Microphone gain vs volume Subscribe