Dell AC511 Soundbar volume is too loud at its minimum setting

This article discusses the Dell AC511 soundbar being too loud at minimum setting and uncomfortably loud at higher settings.

The Issue

The Dell AC511 soundbar is a staple of many office setups. The speaker module has been the official soundbar for many Dell monitors since the end of 2014/early 2015.

Unlike its predecessors, the dispenses with the 3.5mm TRRS audio jack and instead uses a fully digital HDMI/DisplayPort audio passthrough. I have used the AC511 with the and on first plugging in the soundbar, the volume will be uncomfortably loud.

After reducing the Windows volume slider down to its lowest active setting – setting 1/100. The volume of the audio from the soundbar will still be considerably louder than you would expect (particularly for an office environment). As this the next lowest setting is 0/100, or muted. There is no further way to reduce the volume of the soundbar.

More Info

This issue is an unresolved design flaw in the soundbar hardware. I have purchased three of these soundbars between 2016 and 2020 – in the hope that each would be fixed – and each of them has continued to exhibit the same problem.

There is no driver fix or hack that will allow you to adjust the gain range of the volume slider. While it is possible to manipulate the master and application volume sliders in the Windows Volume mixer so that the master gain is mid-level and each individual application is mid-level. This ‘fix’ needs to be applied for every single audio application and leaves a high likelihood of Windows resetting the profile after an update, featureĀ  update, driver update or a simple change in which USB port is being used. I thus see this as a non-solution.

Linux does not offer and fix for the problem either, with the same issues being present under Ubuntu. I therefore conclude that the product has a known design flaw. One that Dell has refused to address.

The only viable solution that I have (and myself now use) is to return the AC511 and instead acquire the . The AE515 does not exhibit the volume level issue and is fully compatible with screens of the same generation e.g. the