A lot of information about Pokémon Sword & Shield has been thrown at the public this past week. It can be a lot to keep track of for all but the most dedicated fans. It also doesn't help that there's a lot of argument going around about exactly what a Pokémon game should be. Leaks revealed key features being changed, while a campaign of aggressive positivity labeled anyone who was critical of the game as another entitled gamer. Among all the back-and-forth, several tidbits of important info could easily slip through the cracks. Such as how to access the sound options.
Yes, the simple function of adjusting audio levels is something you need to unlock in Pokémon Sword & Shield. This is, after all, the franchise that made players find an item called the Running Shoes to earn the right to run. Fortunately, the item needed to adjust sound in Sword and Shield comes fairly early in the game. Unfortunately, it comes from an optional NPC. This makes it possible to miss. To make sure you don't, talk to this man in Motostoke.
Motostoke is the first big city in the game. You'll get there after the train stops and you have your first excursion into the Wild Area. From the entrance, just go straight and under the archway where a couple is admiring an Onix. On the right will be a row of stores. As you can see in the picture, you want to find the yellow record store. Talk to the gentleman in the pink sweater who stands in front of the record store. He'll give you Hi-tech Earbuds.
The Hi-tech Earbuds aren't an item you can actually use. They just give you three additional sliders in the options menu. These allow you to change the individual volumes of Background Music, Sound Effects, and Pokémon Cries.
The inclusion of the Hi-tech Earbuds marks an interesting point in Pokémon history. Previous games in the series didn't include individualized sound options. This is probably because they were on handhelds, where volume was easily controlled via the machine's installed slider. The Nintendo Switch has its own volume control, too, but there's an equal chance Sword and Shield will be played on television where audio quality varies. It's also just 2019, and the majority of games on the market have the option from the get-go.
Perhaps the developers wanted to call attention to the new option, and so made it an item. Since collecting an item is an event, it could call more attention to the audio options than if they were just there from the start. Sort of like a tutorial, but worked more into the gameplay. Whatever the reason, Pokémon has audio options now. And going to Motostoke to get the Hi-tech Earbuds is how you access them.