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Clipping- what are the symptoms?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello all,

Just wondering (layman here) what the typical symptoms of Clipping would be. Crackling? Harsh treble? Lack of detail? I've noticed that without using any kind of volume control most PC audio setups are outputting a signal that is near or at -0dB, and in most visual representations that would display as bright RED (aka "Warning!"). Just wondering:

1) First of all, if -0dB / Red output = likelyhood of clipping?
2) If one is experiencing clipping in the audio output stage, how do you know?
3) If clipping is encountered, will it greatly reduce SQ?
4) Is there a fairly fool-proof method of detecting - and eliminating - clipping in one's PC-based audio system?


Edited by Sduibek - 6/14/14 at 11:54am
post #2 of 7
I don't know why exactly, but I have found that in most cases you can eliminate clipping by changing the sampling rate (e.g., going from 48 kHz to 44 kHz). However, this is not possible on all sound cards.
post #3 of 7
Most recordings these days hit 0 dB fairly often, and many have unavoidable clipping that can't be prevented in playback. The only way to know if you're getting clipping is to use your ears. Sometimes, if you have an application that plays back multiple sounds at once (like some video games), it can exceed the nominal levels you'd set when playing back regular music, which will cause clipping. Clipping sounds like distortion, which means that in some cases (ex. acoustic piano) it's very audible, while in others (ex. distorted electric guitar), it blends in with the rest of the sound.

There are a few different places in your signal chain where clipping can occur. Let's assume we're talking about regular music playback. Ideally, you'll have the sound in the player turned all the way up, and the Wave slider all the way up. This means that your audio will be left unmodified until the Master slider. It's possible that turning up the Master slider all the way will cause your speakers' input section to clip, or it might be too loud to use the volume knob in a usable range (ex. if you can't turn it up past 9 o'clock, it's probably too loud).
post #4 of 7
search hydrogen audio for the udial clipping test
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Interesting. I thought I would get many responses on this topic, considering that when browsing/lurking PC Audio forums you'll find plenty of discussion about the evils of Clipping.


Seems ironic that the HeadFi crowd who is usually so obsessed with sound imperfections, doesn't care to comment on Clipping. Is it due to lack of knowledge, or something else entirely? *rubs chin thoughtfully*
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by regal View Post
search hydrogen audio for the udial clipping test
I also found a HeadFi thread on it. Thanks!

However, i'm wary to trust a test from circa 2001, and posted by a gentleman saying that playing back his sound at 48khz (through WDM no less) will get less clipping. Sure, it may, but only at the loss of SQ. If you need a 16/44.1 soundcard to play at 16/48 to sound OK or to not have clipping, there's quite a lot wrong with your source
post #7 of 7
AFAIK udial is meant to illustrate the aliasing artifacts caused by poor resampling algorithms. Thus you do not hear artifacts with udial if used on a soundcard that plays 44.1 khz without resampling, or if a very good resampling algorithm is used. I don't think udial has anything to do with clipping.
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