getting louder output from the pi

I have a couple very large altec bluetooth speakers that, when linked directly from bluetooth, push about 85-90 db (measured with a decibel meter); which is great. I can alternatively connect to a separate bluetooth receiver dongle connected to the speakers with an aux cable without losing measurable loudness. However, when connecting to a pi 3B that’s running Balena Sound, and connecting to the speakers through the aux cable, it is considerably quieter (<80db). All the pis I’ve used are 3Bs. I have already changed the global environment variable SOUND_VOLUME to be 100 but it had little (if any) effect.

Are there any other changes that can be made or does this sound like a limitation of the pi itself? If the latter is true, are there recommended amp “hats” or other solutions to that end that work easily with BalenaSound? Or, are there other suggested solutions to not lose volume? The goal is to link a number of these speakers all together so the “buy more stuff for all the pis” solution is not optimal but understandable.

Thanks for any suggestions you all might have.

That sounds like a limitation of the onboard sound circuitry, yes. It is not the most powerful, as you can tell. For higher quality, you’ll want to use a DAC Hat, there is a list of known-compatible DAC’s here: Audio interfaces - Home

However, I can’t really speak to the predicted or capability of “maximum volume” that these units offer. Looking up each model and hoping the manufacturers provide decibal or loudness info is the only thing I can think of. Hope that helps!

This is precisely what I was expecting to hear. Thank you for the link and thank you very much for the quick response!