Fix Netflix “Watch Instantly” Audio Volume With Audio Hijack

If you’re a user of Netflix’s Watch Instantly service you’ve no doubt come upon at least a couple videos that are too quiet to hear without straining, even with your speakers cranked. Mac users: Fear not. The audio-twisting protozoans at Rogue Amoeba have an app called Audio Hijack Pro, the Swiss-army knife of Mac system audio. In addition to letting you record audio from any Mac OS X application (while it is running), it also allows you to apply various effects to the live audio stream. Obviously, in order to use Audio Hijack, you have to download it. Do so.

1. Open Audio Hijack

Audio Hijack has a lot of settings and switch, and it’s user interface may seem a little abstract to the first-time user. What we’re going to do only takes three clicks, though. First, select Safari from the pane on the left side of the screen. Then click “Hijack” in the top left of the window. Audio Hijack may ask you to restart Safari. Next click the Effects tab in the right panel. Your screen will look like this:

The one we’re interested in is turning up the Gain, which will actually pump the Audio coming from Safari up over the “100%” system limit. For now, though, you have to load up your movie on Netflix.

2. Start Playing The Movie on Netflix

I’ll assume you now how to do this, otherwise you wouldn’t even know if you had a problem with quiet audio. While the movie is playing, switch back to Audio Hijack. This was we can tweak the audio in real time, to get the right volume.

3. Pump Up The Volume

Click the slider on the Gain control in the top left of the Effects window shown in the picture above. Drag it to the right to pump up the volume, up to a maximum of 238%. That should be plenty for any quiet Netflix movie.

Due to the general awesomeness of Audio Hijack, this trick works for ANY application in OS X.

Turning down Netflix

Netflix refuses copyright holder’s request to stream her film without DRM. Nina Paley (the filmmaker) owns the film outright. There are no rights issues whatsoever. I believe the issue here is related to this culture we have where we assume everyone is a criminal. It’s actually more work for Netflix to let people watch a movie without digitally encrypting it than it is to just encrypt everything. I doubt Netflix’s service was designed to even support sending a movie in the clear, without DRM. It’d probably cost them tens of thousands of dollars to modify it.

Either that, or Netflix thinks their job is protecting copyright holders from themselves. Must be hard, knowing what’s best for everyone.