I just recently purchased a pair of Fostex PM0.4n studio monitors for use with my Auzentech X-Meridian 7.1 2G sound card. In the past I've had trouble with certain speakers having trouble with distortion at all frequencies when Windows volume is turned up too high, which goes away once software volume (i.e. foobar or YouTube volume) is turned down a considerable amount, and vice versa.
Basically when listening to music with foobar, I have three volume control options. Windows volume (hardware volume), software volume (foobar), and lastly the volume control on my actual monitors. I'm not sure if there's a right or wrong volume calibration that would produce the best sound quality (given that for instance, lowering volume does reduce bits if it does at all), but which volume setup would work best for my current setup of a sound card, foobar and my studio monitors?
Keep in mind I won't be using these monitors for any actual monitoring or recording, purely for music playback. I've heard some studios keep the volume control on their monitors at maximum level and simply adjust volume on their amps, but I'm sure this does not apply to my setup as it's quite different. Would it still be best to keep Windows and foobar volume at 100% and adjust the analog volume only on the monitors? Or is it usually a bad idea to keep Windows or software volume at 100% when driving studio monitors? I recall the Audioengine A5s recommend 80% Windows volume, but is it really necessary when it's just hooked up to a PCI sound card? I was able to run my 10 year old Altec Lansing 2.1 desktop speaker system with both Windows and software volume at 100% but not my relatively new JBL Duet IIIs (which comes with some strange source-dependent automatic EQ/DSP adjusting amp) that distorts when it's being fed too much volume.
tl;dr - what should I set my Windows, software, and analog (studio monitor) volume at for best sound quality for music playback?
Edited by akinari-kun - 4/17/13 at 10:55pm