Balena sound working low when at 100

Hey everyone !

I have installed BalenaSound on 2 different RPi 3B+ and I have been able to use them as multiroom with portable speakers. However, I face a problem that seems to be not new but I could not find a solution.

When I control the master via bluetooth with my phone and put the volume at maximum on both speaker and phone, the outpout volume is still low. Much lower than if I were using the speaker at maximum volume without BalenaSound. I tried to set SYSTEM_OUTPUT_VOLUME at 100 or 98 and CONNECTION_NOTIFY_VOLUME at 100 with no success.

It seems than some people found a solution using Alsamixer but still with a lot of difficulties. Unfortunately, I have not found any ressource that explain how to install it.
BalenaOS 2.60.1+rev1.

Is someone able to help me or guide me to solve this ?

I thank you in advance for your help,

Hi Vic,

Can you let me know when you installed balenaSound, and whether you have updated the app by doing another deployment lately? I ask because balenaSound had a major update to use pulseaudio a few months ago.


Hi Phil,

Thank you for your reply. I did it something like 3 months ago. Here is a screen of my dashboard.

Do you suggest to update something ?


It might be worth updating, yes, just to ensure that you are running the latest version. You can perform the upgrade easily by going to the balenaSound project on GitHub (, scrolling down just a bit, and clicking the blue “Deploy with Balena” button. You will be taken to your balenaCloud dashboard in order to deploy it, and be given the option to deploy it to a new application, or, select from an existing application. Simply select your already existing balenaSound application, and wait for it to complete building and updating.

Let us know if that happens to resolve the issue, thanks.

Hello David,
thank you for your help and sorry for this late response. I have just updated my application but nothing changed. Full volume is quite low.
Any clue of the reason ?

Thanks again !


Was just wondering if the hardware setup is the same when you test the volume between balenaSound and non-balenaSound playback?
Could it be the case that the speaker is not getting enough power? This can happen if you are powering the speakers over USB from the Pi instead of a wall adapter for example

Hi !
The devices are self-powered portable speakers, so in both cases the power supply is the battery. So yes, the setups are the same but the audio source is different.

Thank you for your help,

Hello there, balenaSound developer here. Let’s see if I can help you out.

I’ll need you to collect some debugging info for me, you can easily do it by visiting https://<DEVICE_IP>:3000/support on your browser and pasting the contents in this thread. Replace <DEVICE_IP> with the actual IP address of your device, for example

Another thing that you can try is going to https://<DEVICE_IP>:3000/secret. There is a volume slider there, see if changing that makes it any better. Beware though that changes made through this UI won’t be permanent (if you reboot they will reset), you can make them permanent with the SOUND_VOLUME environment variable as described here (note that SYSTEM_OUTPUT_VOLUME and CONNECTION_NOTIFY_VOLUME were deprecated as of v3.0).

Hi ! Thank you for your help.

I have not been able to connect to the devices. I have an error ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR on chrome and microsoft edge.

However, I did a new deployment and saw that the SOUND_VOLUME appeared on the Environment variables. I think it was not there before but I am not fully sure.

So I did decibel measurement with 3 different audio inputs, same speaker :

  1. phone connected with jack to the speaker (58.6 dB average)
  2. phone connected via bluetooth to balena-sound then connected via jack to the speaker (54 dB average)
  3. phone connected via bluetooth directly to the speaker. (63.4dB average)

Experiments 1) and 2) reveals almost the same average sound power but 2) is still a little bit lower. It’s a little difference for the human ear but energy-wise 4dB difference is a lot.

Experiment 3) is MUCH louder than the previous ones.

Consequently, if 1) is less powerful than 3) it will always be the case for 2) I guess. However, because I have not taken measurements before I cannot tell you if setting SOUND_VOLUME to 100 helped compared to the SYSTEM_OUTPUT_VOLUME that I had before.

Regarding, the version I have a question because I feel a little bit confused. When you talk about version v3.0, it is the version of Balena0S or something else ? Because mine is still in 2.60.1+rev1

I don’t know if we can conclude on this but if you have any other suggestion, let me know.

Hey there, thanks for the very thorough investigation! I’ll pass this to the balenaSound maintainer and see if there is anything we can do. Regarding the version, we were asking for the version of balenaSound, not the version of your OS on the device.

+1 to @sradevski 's recommendation. Please try using the latest balenaOS version for Raspberry Pi and also updating balenaSound to v3. You can get v3 by visiting the project repo and using Deploy with balena to update your app.

Hi there, I’m back. Thanks for the detailed testing you performed.

Just to clarify on the versioning:

  • balenaOS is the OS running on your device, current version is v2.67.3+rev4. You can check the version of your device using the dashboard. Running the latest version of balenaOS is not really required as long as you are not using a very old one or need a fix present in newer versions, v2.60 is perfectly fine for balenaSound.
  • balenaSound is the application, current version is v3.5.1. There is currently no easy way to check what version you are using (though we are working on solving that). We do recommend to run at least v3.0 for balenaSound since that version saw a major overhaul of the project, and any bugs with v2.x won’t be addressed any longer.

In your particular case, it seems like you were initially running v2.x of balenaSound (which uses SYSTEM_OUTPUT_VOLUME and CONNECTION_NOTIFY_VOLUME ) but are now on v3.x (which uses SOUND_VOLUME).

Now on to the results you reported. I think what you are experiencing is a derivation of this issue. Bluetooth volume controls are currently not working and I suspect balenaSound is taking a conservative default so as to not blow up your speakers. I can’t promise when but I’ll bump this to the top of my list of things to investigate. I’ll report back to this thread.