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How to adjust volume properly?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I searched this forum high and low and couldn't find a concise answer. What I'm wondering is this: how do I adjust volume to get the best, distortion free sound? I'm looking for general guidelines.

So for example, if my source is an iPod Nano, should I crank the source volume to 100% and then adjust volume with my amp (Fiio E6)? And if my headphones have their own volume control knob, do I then max out the iPod, then the Fiio E6, and attenuate the listening volume level with the knob on my headphones?

Here's another scenerio I commonly encounter: when using the 3.5mm jack on my lapop in conjunction with headphones that DO NOT have an in-line volume control, nor am I using my E6, the two main volume controls I have are the 1) the soundcard's volume control (represented in Windows 7 as a speaker icon in the lower right corner of the screen) and then 2) my "source" volume, in this case we'll go with iTunes.

It seems as if I get the best sound when I turn the Windows/Soundcard volume to ~70% and control listening volume with iTunes anywhere between 0% and 75%

My logic is that, if you amplify a weak signal, you'll get artifacts. But if you start with a signal at maximum strength, the least amount of amplification will be necessary to achieve the desired volume (sound pressure) and thus introduce the least amount of artifacting/hiss. 

Am I on the right track? Thanks!

post #2 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dongle View Post

My logic is that, if you amplify a weak signal, you'll get artifacts. But if you start with a signal at maximum strength, the least amount of amplification will be necessary to achieve the desired volume (sound pressure) and thus introduce the least amount of artifacting/hiss. 

Am I on the right track? Thanks!

 

The short answer is "yup." biggrin.gif

 

se

post #3 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Eddy View Post

 

The short answer is "yup." biggrin.gif

 

se

And the long answer is "you betcha".  

 

If you have an in-line volume control or a headphone with it's own volume control (and it's not something like an active noise-cancelling system), turn that thing all the way up and control your volume elsewhere.  Use it only for temporary attenuation.

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

So what about when it's happening in software? Do I jack up iTunes to the max and control volume with my software driven "line out" control?

post #5 of 6
I wouldn't suggest turning it up all the way. Usually when maxing out you introduce distortion - i usually go for around 80-90%.

You are right, the key is to get the loudest signal without hiss but you dont want to go into the red and end up boosting distortion either.
post #6 of 6

You need to know what volume level is the player set to give out line level signal. Like for instance, a RockBoxed Sansa Fuze will have the line level output at 3 levels below max. That is the maximum undistorted sound it will output. If you max out the volume, it will produce distortions. Other programs like my MediaMonkey produces line level outputs at max volume, but then again most music softwares do, so you need not worry. Just follow your ears.

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