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Gain Control on Headphone Amp vs. Audio Interface

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

@Head-fiers,

 

Which gain control should I turn up? The one on my headphone amp or the one on my audio interface? Right now I have a mix of the two in case of any tiny distortion that may or may not be caused by full amplification on either device. I AB'd both gain controls multiple times on familiar material, and I honestly cannot tell the difference between the two. This is obviously a non-issue, but it interests me. What are your preferred settings? Also, if the amp colours the sound, would increasing its gain increase the effect of its 'colour', or would just running the sound through the amp achieve this effect?

 

Audio interface = M-Audio ProFire 610

Headphone amp = Meier Audio Corda Arietta

Headpphone = AKG K-702

 

 


Edited by senjy - 10/28/11 at 2:36am
post #2 of 3

In order to protect the amp and prevent clipping first turn up the volume on the input to 80%.  Then use the amp to increase the gain on top of that.  This feeds a solid voltage into your amp so your amp does not have to stress to get the volume levels you want.  The same would go for portable devices.  Always turn them up to 80-90% and use the amp to increase the gain from there.

 

Here is a link about clipping:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipping_(audio)

 

 

post #3 of 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post

In order to protect the amp and prevent clipping first turn up the volume on the input to 80%.  Then use the amp to increase the gain on top of that.  This feeds a solid voltage into your amp so your amp does not have to stress to get the volume levels you want.  The same would go for portable devices.  Always turn them up to 80-90% and use the amp to increase the gain from there.

 

Why 80%?  Some amps will clip the input from some sources (with unusually high output levels) set to 80%.  There's nothing magic about 80% or 50% or however much, and I don't see how that has to do with protecting the amp either, unless it was designed very strangely poorly.  If you want a bit perfect output, you need to set 100%--though in practice, that really shouldn't matter.  Most sources should be fine at 100% output, but some have a few issues near the max output level (but then why purchase such a product?).  I'd strongly suspect that an M-Audio interface would have no such issue.
 

Quote:

Originally Posted by senjy View Post

 

Also, if the amp colours the sound, would increasing its gain increase the effect of its 'colour', or would just running the sound through the amp achieve this effect?

 

That depends on the amp.  A higher gain setting is generally more stressful, and most amps have better performance at lower gains, so less color.  But in many or most cases, I would think that the difference may not be audible.

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