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USB Dac and Windows volume control

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I recently read that you should max the volume in Windows (If your dac doesn't bypass it altogether) in order to get the full bitstream to your dac. I've been using my dac with the Windows volume at whatever level it happened to be at which is usually around 50%. So I gave it a shot with the volume all the way up and turned my amp volume down to compensate. I don't know if it's just in my head and I'm going crazy, but it does seem as though the sound has seriously improved. Do any of you know the technical factors behind this?

post #2 of 3

I think what is happening is the DAC is doing its job fine in either case, but your amp does not have to work as hard with the volume on your PC at full.  This lets your amp run in the comfort zone for its components rather than struggle to deliver a clean signal to your headphones/speakers.

 

If your DAC is being fed by a stereo jack on your PC then I doubt the DAC is really doing anything.  The amp section is doing the work here not the DAC.

 

What DAC / Amp are you using and how do you have it plugged into your computer.

 

In the end it is as simple as the gain on your PC slightly increases the voltage out of the jack to your amp.  Let's say you amp can multiply this signal by 100.  If you originally fed it .01 volts with the volume down then the max output in ideal conditions for the amp would be 1 volt.  If you turn up the volume on the PC to 100% the voltage out becomes say .05 volts.  Now your amp can multiply that voltage by 100 and get 5 volts.  Prior to that it was at 1 volt max.  All of these numbers are arbitrary for my example, but you get the idea.

 

If you are running a cable from the stereo jack on your PC into your DAC then the signal is already in analog form and the DAC is doing nothing to it.

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply. I'm running Foobar into an Audinst MX-1 via USB, not the stereo jack. As far as I can tell, Foobar is actually sending out a digital signal.
 

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