Without flat volumes, this is trivial. It's called the device volume. Play a very loud stream with stream volume at 100% and set your device volume down until it's reasonable. It is now impossible for any stream to deafen the user, no matter its volume.
With flat volumes enabled, as is the default for PulseAudio, this is currently impossible to achieve.
The following sequence will deafen users, in my opinion unexpectedly:
1) Open a very loud stream
2) Drag the device volume down to 20% or something reasonable. This will also set your stream volume to 20%.
3) Close stream 1
4) Open a quiet stream
5) In pavucontrol, notice that the quiet stream is at 20%. Drag it up to 50% or something, where you can hear it
6) Close stream 2
7) Re-open the very loud stream
8) Visit your doctor to get hearing aids
Disabling flat volumes by default would solve this problem. This is what I've done on my machine.
Out of curiosity, if the point where you start to get hearing damage with loud streams is eg. 30%, and you configure the maximum volume to be that 30%, what would you do with the stream that you'd like to push to 50%?
This feature request is valid in any case, though. It has been discussed before, and we do want to eventually make the maximum device volume configurable.
(In reply to comment #1)
> Out of curiosity, if the point where you start to get hearing damage with loud
> streams is eg. 30%, and you configure the maximum volume to be that 30%, what
> would you do with the stream that you'd like to push to 50%?
Well, you'd have to bump the device volume up to 50% or whatever. But then the user has done it and is aware that they're in an unsafe state and can bump it back down when they're done with the quiet audio. It's not ideal, and I wonder if there's a better solution that could work intelligently with flat volumes.
*** Bug 65568 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
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