Windows Phone 8.1 also has independent volume for Bluetooth and headphones

Windows Phone 8.1, released yesterday through the Preview for Developer program, sure has a lot of new features. We tried to document most, if not all, of those in our colossal review/overview of the OS, but as suspected some items will fall through the cracks.

Reader of the site Nicholas M. brought to our attention that 8.1 not only has independent volume levels for Ringer + Notifications versus Media + Apps, but also a separate volume slider for headphones. We looked into the finding and also discovered that there’s a fourth volume slider, one for Bluetooth.

If you were to plug in headphones into your 8.1 device and hit the volume key, you’ll be presented with the familiar volume control display but it now should read ‘Headphones’ near the top. That volume can then be set, and the device will remember it for the next time you plug in your ear cans.

Likewise for Bluetooth, which will show that particular connection near the top. It too has its own setting for volume, and like headphones, it will be remembered later when re-connected. Both Headphones and Bluetooth are independent of Ringer + Notifications versus Media + Apps, giving users technically four selections for volume.

We’re guessing those new features should make many of you even happier with Windows Phone 8.1, as it really makes things easier in our increasingly ‘connected’ world. Sound off in comments how you’ll make the best of this feature!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Wonderfulllllll!!!
  • Yeah, but what about voicemail? I've noticed in 8.0 when I have the ringer volume low, like on 1, and than I try to listen to a VM, you can't hear anything - you have to bump the volume up to like 18 to hear the VM through the earpiece. Of course, you forget you did this and the next time someone calls, the ringer is loud as hell. No bueno in the office. I hope VM is just an app that will get its volume setting from the separate control for app volume. Can anyone confirm if this is the case for 8.1?
  • The phone speaker has its own dedicated slider as well (a fifth?) - applies to voicemail as well
  • These little little changes makes the update more great I want to ask every1 here when we open the WiFi from action center it swtiches on instantly but when we close it it opens up to the WiFi menu..!!! Does it happens in every1's phone..???
  • Happens to me yeah, but it kind of makes sense if you want to switch between networks, not switch off. Good catch man.
  • But what if I do want to switch off?
  • Yes and it's stupid. Im really hoping this is a bug that will be fixed. They also need to add a shortcut for data connection.
  • No, it's not stupid at all. It's a great way to quickly go to Wifi settings to, for instance, switch networks without passing through All Settings. Data connection toggle will be a good addition though. And do you need to insult at every opportunity? this is getting silly, really.
  • 1. To me, it is stupid. You already have wifi sense to auto connect/find networks and you also have "all settings" for fairly quick access to settings, if you need to change something. Moost people don't change wifi settings every few minutes. 2. Insult at every opurtunity? Are you high or something? I barely even comment here and I have never insulted anyone, FFS.
  • Best thing can be.... Tap to toggle and long tap for setting page... For both WiFi and BT
  • Speaking of voicemail I'm disappointed they removed the custom sound for voicemail. It now carries the same tone as the phone ringtone which is stupid. When I get a notification that I have received a voicemail it now rings only once so I am tricked into thinking that I am receiving a phone call instead. Microsoft please fix this asap!
  • Yup! Love it! I wish Media and Apps volume control was seperate from Cortana though. I like my apps around 10 but id like Cortana around 17
  • Would love to see Internet Explorer 11 (classic/modern desktop and phone) getting separate volume control per tabs..
  • Woha ... stop it right there ... that would get hell of a lot complicated!
  • Wonderful indeed. Now Nokia has no reason to keep lowering my media volume to 13 every single time. Hoping Nokia Cyan fixes that.
  • This auto-volume reduction business is a requirement to ship phones to the EU. :( Sadly, Nokia chose to enable it for all devices intead of only those sold in the EU markets.
  • Can you explain why it hits me randomly? Today it will be fine. Next thursday at 3:17pm it will reset to 13. It will again be fine for over a month at that point before again randomly resetting to 13.
  • The EU mandate requires something along the lines of...   Over 85dB and listen to 20 cumulative hours of audio? Warn the user, reset to 13, user must dismiss a warning before going over 13. After another 20 hours of audio the process repeats.   Over 85dB and reboot the phone (or battery runs out)? Reset it to 13.   13/30 being what Nokia devices currently have mapped to the highest value <85dB.
  • Does that regulation apply on both phone speaker and headphones?
  • I think the only thing it may not apply to is speakerphone mode, but I am not sure.
  • Man fuck the EU cause that s one of the most annoying things about my phone.
  • Hey Siah 1214, I'm no fan of the EU, but I'm no fan of arrogance either. Your use of obscene language demonstrates you are fine with arrogance. What a pity you can't think of others as well as yourself.
  • What's truly nonsensical about this is that all the Windows Phones I've ever owned need to be cranked up to full (bluetooth) volume in my car in order to achieve "volume parity" with the built-in radio and CD player.   If I do what the EU wants me to, and keep my phone set at a "safe" 13/30, then I'll have to crank up the main volume on my car stereo in order to hear anything from my phone - which means that whenever I switch to radio or a CD, I actually WILL damage my hearing :-(
  • There is also seperate phone call volume control.
  • This is great! I was actually a bit worried about the headphones part, but very good news this is :)
  • Awesome
  • Yeah...just noticed that in gym....i was I seeing this right...separate volume for everything....ftw hahahhaha
  • I know. It is pretty epic.
  • I second this.
  • I third this!
  • Wp 8.1 lags a lot on my l620
    I know its because of low ram
    But microsoft should solve this asap.
  • Doesn't lag on 520 or on 720, so probably there is something else going on? Low storage space?
  • I guess
    I will do a hard reset .
  • Hard reset? you sure about that?
  • yeah, sure about that? Just be sure to sync your app and start screen first. Maybe a little easier to handle then. 
  • The animations and the very slight lag is noticeable on my Lumia 820, but i think its because the experience isnt fine tuned yet, either by MSFT and/or Nokia. Maybe when the update(s) hit our handsets the experience with be much better. I notice delay and lag over bluetooth from when i hit the mic for cortana and when i can speak my command in my car's bluetooth. I think these bugs will be ironed out, hopefully. the speech in my car over bluetooth worked perfectly in WP 8.0.
  • I have the same problem with my Lumia Icon.  When I hit the mic over bluetooth in my car, there is about a 5-10 second delay before Cortana will listen to my command.  I think this may have something to do with drivers and firmware.  Hopefully this will be corrected once Nokia Cyan is released.  I understand there are several other Nokia features that will be added to the Lumia line along with the Cyan firmware update.  One that I know of is the ability for my Lumia Icon to use Miracast.  I can't wait for that!
  • It lags a bit on my Lumia 720
  • +1
  • Is the third column of tiles available on Lumia 720? If so, are the tiles usable or are they too small?  
  • Yes they are available on Lumia 720. I use the third column of tiles, it looks pretty good. Yes they get small, but don't worry they dont look bad.
  • Same for me. L620. Sometimes i can switch between apps and then get back to start screen and tiles will be just empty squares without icons on them. :|
  • Same problem for me
    The tiles becomes empty for a little while
  • Did you just install? Even on my 928 it took a few minutes (and a reboot or two) to completely load everything for the first time. I figure this is because of the first time sync being run for all your settings and files. Once everything loaded up, I'm completely lag free.
  • I get empty tiles for a less than a second everytime i switch between few apps without getting back to start screen. Probably cause by 512mb ram. Hope they'll fix it in future updates. Installed 8.1 day ago.
  • Yes it lags a bit in my 520.
  • WP 8.1 runs great on my Nokia Lumia 928. It feels like a brand new phone! This update (upgrade) cannot be denied! I have a Lumia 521. I'll give it a go to see if I can replicate your problem.
  • Yes, I have a Lumia 928 it does feel like a brand new phone. Pre 8.1, I had a lot of glitchy lag when pressing tiles and navigating through the OS. Now everything is so fluid, smooth and faster! Love this update.
  • Try class 6 or 10 sd card to save apps and games. I have class 10 16gb sd card and i transfered all my apps and games on sd card and my L620 doesn't lag
  • I have class 6
    Maybe thats the problem
  • My son's 520 has a class 6, 16GB card. I haven't seen any lag on it. Maybe because after install I let it sit overnight before using it.
  • I have class 4 and no lag in my 620.....
  • Out of interest, I have an 8gb SD card in my Lumia 820 (class 4) and yet I am able to move apps onto it. I could have sworn that Microsoft said that the moving apps feature only worked with class 6 or higher...
  • Hmmm........doesn't lag on my 620. The only thing I have noticed is how much "snappier" mine is on 8.1 vs 8.0. Must be another issue.
  • Same problem here too. My 620 is so laggy after the update. I'm thinking about doing a hard reset to see if it helps, that's how annoying it is. But it sounds like this isn't an isolated issue like I originally thought...
  • Immediately after the update you'll notice all of the apps say "Installing". The phone is recompiling them at this time for use after the update. This used to happen in previous updates during the "migrating your data and settings" phase, but was moved out so the phone would be in a useable state sooner rather than later. This may be the source of some slowness for some folks if it seems laggy right after the update, but clears up in a while.
  • Sadly that's not the source of mine. I've let that process finish already. I've also rebooted the phone numerous times, let it sit, move things to the SD card from the phone and vice versa. It seems like only the 620 is having these issues as well. My only other guess is that maybe its because I don't have Black yet? AT&T seems too lazy to approve it for a prepaid only device...
  • Darn. What class SD card did you move everything to?
  • I did a head ready two days ago preparing for WP 8.1 and wanted to clear other storage from internal memory. Mine is working fine. Reset your phone and after that give it 10)15 mins to get stable it will defintely work smooth. And remember it's in beta mode now. So even wait for official askd firmware update
  • wp8.1 it's not a beta, how did you get that?
  • Great! Really awesome. thanks for the tip Rubino
  • Amazing, thanks for sharing! This update keeps getting better and better!!!
  • Bt volume was always there, but secret. If I had muted my phone, but got back in my car, music would play the same as before.
  • Bluetooth was separate before the 8.1 update. I would use my Bluetooth for music at 15, and when I would get to work turn I turn my Bluetooth off and volume would drop to 2 on its own
  • Same with my Bluetooth headset and car adapter, the volume would automatically set to the level I had it configured to when connected but nice to be able to have separate controls now.
  • And not just Bluetooth as a whole, but it's for every bluetooth device. My car gets one volume level, bluetooth headphones automatically at a different level.
  • Yes, I am wondering how this is a need article, the memory for Bluetooth volume has been here before the update..
  • I had a separate volume for Bluetooth as well. I always wondered why WPC never reported on this feature.
  • Yes but headphones and Bluetooth never had individual volume controls... I was always reminded of that when I got in my car and plugged my phone into my car stereo via 3.5mm jack... Because I have a Pontiac with a Bose stereo system and no Bluetooth in the car... When I switched from stereo Bluetooth headset to car stereo plugin the output is always too loud because it would automatically reset back to my master phone volume which is too loud for my stereo equalizer optimization...I always have my master volume set to 30, but my car stereo needs to be set to 22 to have loud music without distortion... Now I can set it separately!
  • Daniel, there was never a mention of the inline photo viewer in emails in the updated, similiar to windows 8.1. This is a big feature for me anyway :).
  • Weird, my Lumia 920 seems more optimized now, really liking it.
  • This has been a feature of Lumia devices for a while now. On both the 928 and now Icon I have separate volumes for phone, Bluetooth, headset, and I think speaker.
  • AFAIK it has been only for BT.
  • Great song choice in the picture
  • No separate for alarm?
  • Thought I was the only one who missed it... Yeah, apparently you still can't adjust alarm volumes =/
  • Alarms adjust themselves. I don't know if you've noticed, but alarms starts on low volume and it keeps increasing every minute, till it gets full volume.
  • Still completely missing an output option though. Need to be able to route alarms through BT.
  • So upgraded to Windows Phone 8.1 on my Lumia 720. It lags a bit and drains my battery even for performing simple tasks. The features are just awesome but these problems are pretty concerning and the phone gets heated up when I use Cortana and stream videos.
  • This is just a preview, maybe a future update or the final version will run smoothly.
  • Your correct. Mines working fine and its ought to drain little battery as its perfoming now many functions then previous version. So battery will surely drain quickly compare to b4 as this is a major update. Dint worry the firmware update will fix the battery too. WP is capable of doing it
  • I hope so, so the wait is now for the Lumia Cyan update.
  • it IS the final version
  • Can't turn off connection to Xbox live in games hub :|
  • I don't even have a game hub xD
  • It didn't go anywhere. Games app in the app list.
  • I'm grateful that independent volume control is finally here, but my god they made it complicated to silence the phone. Hopefully update 1 will bring a "mute everything"-toggle switch to the action center
  • Press volume. Tap on the volume number and it will mute that control. It takes five presses/taps, but it's actually pretty quick to do:
    1-Press Volume hardware button
    2-tap down arrow
    3-5-tap the two numbers and vibrate control You're now muted
  • I know that but this takes 3 taps more than before and on phones with big screens the numbers are quite difficult to reach.
  • Agreed, it's still too many taps.
    I thought that previously, to go silent, you had to hold the volume down until you got to zero, and to go truly silent, (no vibrate) you had to go into settings.
  • All you had to do was press the volume down or up and then the little icon in the top right corner
  • Also, tap the numbers again and it unmutes AND restores the volumes to whatever they were previously set to. Nice touch.
  • looks like the flood of features in 8.1... im loving this update probably this is the all time best mobile update in any mobile history...
  • This is awesome.
  • It also has a different slider for when you are actually in a voice call. That one is different than the ringer one.
  • Seems louder
  • Now we just need a decent music player
  • Try Nokia MixRadio
  • Now all is needed is a balance (left-right fader) control like iOS and some android has.
  • Does Bluetooth show a battery indicator now? Have not tried it yet
  • It's new to see this on the volume control, but it is not a new feature, at least on Bluetooth. It's been remembering separate volume for Bluetooth at least since 8.0.
  • It became tough to sought out the features it has got :p
  • is Nokia still disabling the equalizer when connecting to Bluetooth? I know it's best practice to send the signal as flat as possible to amps and such, but there are times when the edulcoration is sorely missed...
  • I need the Equalizer for Bluetooth! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My motorola bluetooth headphones need some help.
  • Yes, I was hoping MSFT to fix this 2 year old issue but its still being disabled for Bluetooth. Am not using any of my BT accessories for more than a year because of this bug.
  • My prayers have been answered!!
  • Great
  • WP8.1+++++++
  • Lumia 620,yes start screen felt glitchy and evaporates at its will yesterday,but now settled,browsing time z increased.Laggy all night but frm today a little lag,almost equal to nothing.Remove 3rd tile option,I am pretty much heartfelt done for 6months.And I am considering Cortana grant an intergalactic trip.
  • Daniel, this was there is GDR3 as well. We just didn't have a separate bar, but the phone remembered what volume was set when the phone was connected to a Bluetooth headset and always set itself to that volume whenever I connected my headsets again. That was one of the reasons why I started listening to music on Bluetooth headsets. :D
  • Right, but one disappointment I noticed is that if you do a soft reset on your phone, the saved Bluetooth volume defaults to 13. This never happened pre 8.1. Even after reset the Bluetooth column was still remembered. I guess I wont soft reset anymore :)
  • Hats off to Nokia
  • Sweet
  • Also discovered that
  • Wow, pretty impressive!
  • YES!!! I discovered this early. It's really nice to see they solved this shortcoming in a proper way. And there are sliders for all volumes, including calling. The only thing I miss is a way to show the sliders apart from physical keys.
  • Yup. Noticed that this morning and good thing it's contextualized.
  • Also a different volume for incalls
  • I have my BT headset connected but don't have separate volume control
  • Cortana Says that the Universe is "13.798 Million years old"..
  • 13,798 million years old bro
  • The known Universe 13.798 Billion years old, not Millions...
  • isn't 13,798 million the same thing as 13.798 billion? Notice the comma vs the period.
  • Cortana Can't say the word "Billions"..
  • Yup
  • This really annoyed me this morning when I thought I had my volume set low and plugged in my headphones and hit play without realizing, it was set to 13 by default, which is way too loud for me. Really annoying. I just want one volume to rule them all again. Though I wouldn't give up everything else 8.1 had to offer to get it.
  • I had this as well. It blew my ears out.
  • Completely unconnected to the article but I have got used to this nice little trick: Swipe down from top to bring out the action center and keep swiping down to the bottom bezel through the Windows button. It will then launch back up like a rubber band. Cool way to have a look at the action center without having to close it. I keep playing with it actually. And swipe typing is awesome!!
  • Actually, I have a Kinivo BTC450 Bluetooth adapter that I'd been using in my car that is no longer working with my phone since the 8.1 upgrade.  It worked perfectly before the update.  Anyone else have problems?  It pairs and connects.  I even hear the beeps that it connected, but none of the audio is audible.  I have the new bluetooth volume up all the way and no joy. 
  • Yeah, Valkyrie-MT. My handsfree calls are still working, but with Music, things have gone worse. Now I have to open Xbox music by myself or thru Cortana first. After that, everything flows like before. H. Civic imidi here. Hope they fix this trouble asap, because it's useful.
    Another problem I have noticed is that my lock screen sound disappeared when I press power button to force lock. And my ring toggle button disappeared too! But phone is working very well besides these three issues.
    Loving the update. Can't go back. Everything is integrated so nicely and Cortana rox.
  • Yes. I noticed it when I connected to my car's Bluetooth receiver.
    Wish there was Bluetooth profile selection for devices too. Cuz, I want to connect to only stereo profile and not the headset profile. I can do that with my spare moto x easily.
  • Give it a day or two to settle in.
  • Bluetooth already had a separate profile in gdr3. Although no interface representation for it.
  • Right, but one disappointment I noticed is that if you do a soft reset on your phone, the saved Bluetooth volume defaults to 13. This never happened pre 8.1. Even after reset the Bluetooth volume was still remembered. I guess I wont soft reset anymore :)
  • Nice addition, as I use Bluetooth in the car so want to volume louder and use the car volume from there. Nice to have this automatic rather than having to change the volume when I get to the car and once off Bluetooth back to regular volume.
  • I wonder if there is a separate control for call loudspeaker too. Can anyone confirm?
  • As mentioned the volume for Bluetooth was always separate, issue for me now is that it doesn't remember my volume settings!, keeps resetting to initial volumes each time.
  • Do we know if WP8.1 supports headphones' volume rocker yet??
  • The rocker works for the headset. I just tried it. YEA!
  • Found the headphone one this morning. A very welcome addition.
  • I had one Bluetooth device that wp8 always used to remember the volume for, even before the upgrade.
  • Hey Dan, excellent musical taste, by the way.
  • I didn't think it was possible to get worse than two volume sliders... Four?! I miss my Arrive...
  • The only thing I miss from the arrive is the keyboard.
  • Yup this is a good one!
  • OMG.... when i heard there was only 2 sliders I was little upset, but now that there's more and it's dependent on hardware use I'm super happy.  THIS IS GREAT NEWS!!!!!!
  • Dan can you do a review of the new Xbox Music as well?  I'm waiting until 8.1 is officially released to upgrade, but would love to see what's new in Xbox music and even games.
  • The new XBox Music doesn't allow you to track back and forth with a horizontal swipe anymore.  I immediately noticed that and did not like it at all. 
  • That sucks
  • About time
  • Please tell me there is a way to get rid of the "your volume is too loud" warning in this version. Both my current and previous phones would frequently kill the volume down to 13 and give me the warning. The problem is that neither my headphones nor the bluetooth speakers are all that loud. I NEED it to be at 25.
  • Afaik, it will only happen once. Only when you hard reset your phone and it will happen one time only.
  • It happens all the time and its 100% random. It could be every other day. It could be in 2 months. Generally it doesn't go much past 3 months before resetting. Its hard to say since I've had the icon since launch, but my 928 did the same thing.
  • Pretty cool!
  • +920 !
  • I have noted on my 920 if you mute the Ringer+Notifications, which I do often at work, then connect to Bluetooth speakers (say leaving work and jumping in the car), no matter what volume you have the BT set for, it is muted.
  • Uh, this existed even in the last version. I always had my Bluetooth earpiece set to something like 13, and when I plugged it into my car with the headphone jack, it would automatically switch to 20 (or whatever I'd set previously)...
  • Its fantastic one
  • Now that is cool and thoughtful.  Nice one! Does this mean that Bluetooth HID support for a bluetooth keyboard is also baked in 8.1. If so, demo someone? If not when will it come? Rumours are strong this year that it's coming. Still anxiously waiting and wanting. currently nr. 20 on the list of suggestions in the microsoft suggestion box and rising!
  • It used to be possible to easily switch silent mode on, but now the icon/action is missing from volume control dropdown. :-(
  • The headphone volume control also allows you to set the ringer to sound with headphones in but stay silent when they're unplugged... Pretty darn cool if you ask me! (n soz if anyone else has already mentioned this...)
  • Great!! This is what really& exactly everyone expected..It's like "Safe Volume" on AOSP and was a great option to save your ear drums!!
  • Yey, I've been wanting a separate control for BT for a long while as it is quite useful for WP>CAR BT configurations.
  • Someone probably already said this but I don't have the patience's to read all of it but there is also a separate in call volume.
  • BlueTooth volume control has already existed to tell you guys the truth at least since 8.0. Connect your phone to BT device and change volume to 20. Disconnect BT device and it will change back to what it was before, reconnect same BT device and it is back to 20.
  • Hey, Dan, do you know if Windows 8.1 will come to the Lumia 810 from T-mobile? :<
  • All in all it's great with the excpetion of the ringer volume only goes up to 10 (used to be 30). Where I work I'll never hear it and missed two calls today. Using a Samsung ATIVS Neo.
  • I noticed this BT volume control today too in my car.  Does anyone know if you can adjust the Here drive volume?  It's so damn loud if I'm listening to music at a normal BT volume.
  • this nice i like this independent volume for everything i hope this is for rest of my finger who always work up and down volume key.
  • This is one of those undersold, but insanely convenient addition.
  • I literally just found this feature a few minutes ago. Soo handy as I normally like my volume off on apps, but normally then have had to turn it up when I plugged my headphones in. Now 9 times out of 10, that would be fine... But that 1 out of 10 when I forgot to turn it back down again... And a very loud vine or whatnot blasted out the speakers on the bus or something...oops!
  • When my bluetooth headphones connect they always go back to the last volume they were when connected. I'm on WP8 and it does that. Am I missing something?
  • Loving all the new features but mourning the loss of a few... Bing Vision within Cortana search, comma in the keyboard, grouping emails with the same title I.e. Conversation view. Hopefully they'll resolve this shortly as its only a dev release I guess.
  • This was a minor change and its made things massively better. Such a great feature.
  • Already there for the bluetooth before the 8.1, but nice for the headphone. But still not possible to have lower volume than 1... It's too loud on headphone with L920, I have to use the equalizer to put a -15dB filter on all frequencies, that's not really good for the signal =/
  • As stated by someone, this is not new, anytime you connect the Phone to the car hands free through blueetooth, the volume you choose, it's mantained anytime you reconect to that. As you disconect from the handsfree it switches to the previous volume. something that annoyies me a lot it's the "vibration" function. Previously when you click on vibration it simply "mute" everything, now this doesn't work!!, it simply activates or disactivates the vibration, but doesn't mute the volume of everything, you need to select the volumes to 0.    
  • I've got the Windows Phone 8.1 Developers Upgrade and the phone ringer is silent if my bluetooth is connected.  Also, with the bluetooth connected, there is only one volume slider for bluetooth.  I keep my bluetooth in my shirt pocket and want the phone ringer to always ring at full volume.  Can I do that with 8.1?