If you are experiencing low volume at maximum limit on a machine with HDA controller the way to get a high volume is to reset all the raw pin settings to default. HDA Analyzer does that for you. Before moving on from here, be sure you know what you are doing. This may lead to critical unforeseen issues.
First you need to make sure you have HDA. Run this:
$ lspci|grep -i audio 00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
Once you have confirmed, download the HDA Analyzer script (hda-analyzer.py) and run it as root. It will download some other scripts and then you will get the GUI showing all the detected cards, codecs and nodes. If you already know which pins to tweak around with you can directly do that. Otherwise just click on all the different nodes and then exit the GUI (a quicker way is to select the first node and then use the Down arrow key to traverse through all). Before exiting it will ask you the following:
HDA-Analyzer: Would you like to revert settings for all HDA codecs?
Click Yes. Now check if there is a gain in max volume. My volume level increased heavily on a Sony VAIO with the above controller. And you can still gain more by using software Amplification from Ubuntu Sound Settings if you are on Ubuntu. Just don’t blast your speakers literally! 😉
N.B.: the settings are not stored across reboots on all distros. A solution is discussed here. But be very cautious. There may be side effects.
Another possible solution
Edit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf as root. Search for the following line:
options snd-usb-caiaq index=-2
Add the following line below it
options snd-hda-intel model=3stack