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The Rema in OC 61(26) says the custom is to say the first possuk of the shema aloud. In this question Sh'ma aloud but amida quietly Gershon Gold said that Shema is said aloud in unison and msh210 said "Sh'ma" is not said in unison in many synagogues, but is said aloud anyway.

In many shuls I have “heard” people saying the first possuk quietly or even inaudibly. Is there any source for saying it quietly?

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I believe the Talmud Yerushalmi discusses this, or the Haichalot literature, but I'm not certain. I vaguely remember something about it in passing from reading a different book/article about differences in practices between Israel and Bavel. –  avi Jun 18 '12 at 16:57
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2 Answers

The Aruch Hashulchan Orach Chaim 61:3 says that the custom in the whole Jewish Diaspora is to say the first verse of Shema out loud.

המנהג בכל תפוצות ישראל לאמר "שמע ישראל" בקול רם

The Rama in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 61:26 brings in the name of the Kol Bo that even if you say the entire Kriyas Shema quietly, you should still say the first verse out loud.

יש נוהגים לקרות קריאת שמע בקול רם ויש נוהגים לקרותו בלחש. הגה: ומכל מקום יאמרו פסוק ראשון בקול רם וכן נוהגין (כל בו):‏

I assert that there is no source for those who say it quietly.

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This is clearly not universally practiced nowadays. I believe he is asking for a source to support those who don't. –  Seth J Mar 14 '12 at 18:22
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However the Aruch HaShulchan says that this is the correct practice all over. –  Gershon Gold Mar 14 '12 at 18:29
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@GershonGold The Aruch HaShulchan was published over 100 years ago and lived on a different continent than most Jews nowadays. –  Double AA Mar 14 '12 at 19:31
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Gershon wrote: that this is the correct practice all over. This is simply incorrect. The AH wrote it is the popular practice all over. One claim is normative and one is empirical. –  Double AA Mar 15 '12 at 1:24
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@GershonGold The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. –  Double AA Jun 17 '12 at 3:11
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I believe that saying the pasook out loud when someone is davening their amidah could be distracting to them. In such a case, saying it out loud could be considered yohara. I'm not sure if there is any written source backing me up, but now Jahadut.SE has a source for it.

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Most people say the pasuk when no one's saying sh'mone esre. –  msh210 Jun 18 '12 at 17:01
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