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Web browser clipping audio (especially Soundcloud)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Heya,

I need some advice please.

I own a pair of He-500 headphones, they are connected in this chain.

Pc > Titanium hd > Emotiva Mini-x > He-500

When I listen to music files I own, I listen through Jriver, which has a 64bit engine, so as far as I know using it's own volume control doesn't affect the quality that much. I can leave Windows system volume at 100% volume, Jriver's volume at 80ish (to stop it hitting anywhere near clipping) and control the final volume with my amp. All dandy.

However, when I use the web to listen to music, such as Soundcloud, leaving soundcloud's volume at 100%, and the web browsers volume at 100%, system volume at 100%, the Titanium Hd audio creation mode's monitoring shows it hitting 0db, and falls into the Red zone. I'm assuming its heavily clipping. So to combat this I leave my web browsers volume at 100%, and reduce soundclouds own volume, but I feel this is a digital change and i'm losing quality. 

Most tracks on Soundcloud have to be run at 50% volume (via soundclouds own volume control) to stop my X-fi hitting the red zone. At 50%, the X-fi software is reporting volume hitting -13db (almost in the orange zone). I'm trying to keep it from going anywhere near the red. Increasing it over 50% will push it almost to the red zone. 

I could stop this by reducing the "wave volume", but I've been told in the past not to adjust the wave, and to leave it at 100%. 

So at the moment, the only way I can stop the X-fi from reporting dangerous output levels is either;

Reduce the wave volume from 100% to a lower level 
Or reduce Soundclouds own volume within the web browser

I don't want to touch the "system volume"

Does Creatives own software, the console which runs with the Titanium HD accurately report the correct output volume? 

Is it safe to leave all volumes in windows at 100% and ignore the volume hitting red zone?

If I lost you half way, sorry. 

Running Windows 8. Titanium Hd. Audio creation mode.

Thanks for any suggestions.

post #2 of 9

I'm pretty sure that any volume attenuation before the D/A converters is going to be done digitally (reducing the headroom and bit depth).  However, it might be the lesser of two evils to lower your input volume on the Titanium HD so that there is no clipping.  A 1-2 dB decrease should be all you need and there shouldn't be any perceivable decrease in audio quality.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply Cskippy.

 

To elaborate on what I said..

 

Please take a look at these screenshots and you'll see what i mean.

Using jriver and Windows system volume 100%,  X-fi console Asio volume 75% 0db (default), Jriver Internal 100% volume - notice how the monitor is reporting 0db and hitting red, even reducing the volume by a couple of Db it stays in the red, which is leaving me to believe its going way over.  



Using jriver, Windows system volume 100%, X-fi console Asio volume 75%, 0db (default), Jriver Internal slightly lower @ 85% volume - notice the monitor is now yellow/green 


Edited by fluidz - 8/27/13 at 10:14am
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Soundcloud results -

Using Chrome, with Soundclouds website loaded up, non asio, Windows system volume 100%, X-fi console Wave volume 0db (default), Soundcloud  @ 100% volume, Chrome @ 100% - notice the monitor is Red.

 

Using Chrome, with Soundclouds website loaded up, non asio, Windows system volume 100%, X-fi console Wave volume 0db (default), Soundcloud  @ 50%'ish volume, Chrome @ 100% volume - notice the monitor has now dropped within the yellow/green area.


Edited by fluidz - 8/27/13 at 10:17am
post #5 of 9

The red zone is a warning area, not necessarily indicating clipping. A lot of music is now normalized to -0.1dBFS.

But you should probably reduce volume by 3-6dB if you want to avoid clipping caused by intersample peaks.

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi StudioSound,  

 

If I reduce the sound to -6db the monitoring usually stays out of the red, which is peace of mind, however wheres the best place to reduce the volume to avoid overheads in this chain..? 

 

Titanium Hd > Soundclouds webpage/youtube > Chrome > System volume (windows slider) > Wave volume (Titanium Hd's own wave slider) > Emotiva Amplifier

 

Adjusting these volume sliders have the following affects to monitor readouts withiin Creatives audio console (audio creation mode)

 

Youtube volume > affects monitor readout

Chrome volume > affects monitor readout

System volume (windows own) > has no effect on monitor readout

Wave volulme > affects monitor readou

Amp > No affect on the Titanium Hd's monitor readout as it's the last in chain.

 

Would be nice to know which volume slider to reduce.  

 

 

Thanks for your suggestions.


Edited by fluidz - 8/26/13 at 8:40pm
post #7 of 9

I get exactly the same effect as the OP describes playing any modern commercial release. New CD, MP3 download, popular podcast etc etc. It's not just soundcloud either. Foobar, winamp etc display the same effect.

 

My chain is:  so called bit perfect (all sliders max) from PC > USB (or Firewire or S/PDIF) > MOTU Ultralite interface > any output device. 

 

The MOTU software package (CueMix) always reports clipping on peaks (red bar) on the input to the DAC process.

 

I cannot actually hear the alleged clipping though. Perhaps someone with better i.e. younger, hearing could. I've done a fair test too. Knocking off 3 dB in either the application or windows then rerecording the output. (no clipping on out indicated). Then playing the same sample 'bit perfect', converting that signal in turn to analogue and rerecording it, then knocking off 3 dB manually. That way I get the same sample volume matched to -3dB and try to ABX via the handy tool in foobar. Likesay, they both sound the same to me.

 

So my conclusion is either the software is calibrated to report clipping before it actually takes place as a form of safety control or it is not your system that is causing the apparent clipping but in fact the music you are listening to is actually very slightly clipped on peaks in the original recording. If the later is the case then there is nothing you can do. Knocking 3dB off your output doesn't stop the clipping. You simply do not detect it as such any more.

 

Bear in mind that during the analogue era engineers would routinely record audio so that occasional peaks would hit red on their meters. That's how they knew they were getting the max out of their gear. Digital clipping is claimed to be more damaging than analogue clipping (which some people actually like in small qualities) but perhaps very small amounts on peaks only are largely undetectable by the human ear?

 

However, like the OP, I don't like to see red on my signal chain. So, although I know it doesn't make any audible difference to myself or anyone else I have tested it on, I now apply a soft peak limiter to my main  audio output. Interestingly enough the leveler in MOTU cuemix, modeled on the legendary, vintage LA-2A optical compresser, works perfectly for this task when on default settings. Which again suggests to me this is a 'normal' effect in modern audio production Go to the max and then a tiny bit more. I think the same thing happens to all users - but not having the benefit of metering software others do not detect it.

post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by fluidz View Post

If I reduce the sound to -6db the monitoring usually stays out of the red, which is peace of mind, however wheres the best place to reduce the volume to avoid overheads in this chain..?

 

It needs to be done before the conversion from digital to analog; where it happens should not matter, unless you are going to be processing the signal - in which case you need to do it before that processing happens.

 

I would probably use the system volume, because it's a 32-bit floating point control and is probably the highest quality one, with the exception of JRiver which is 64-bit.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post

I get exactly the same effect as the OP describes playing any modern commercial release. New CD, MP3 download, popular podcast etc etc. It's not just soundcloud either. Foobar, winamp etc display the same effect.

This is because most audio is now mastered to -0.1 dBFS and highly compressed, so most sources will be in the red.

Red does not necessarily mean it's clipping, just that the peaks are very close to 0dB. (if you were recording you would want to stay out of the red though)

 

The problem is that most of these indicators are sample meters, and samples at -0.1 dBFS can clip when converted to an analog waveform. These are known as inter-sample peaks.

You need at least 3dB, but preferably 6dB to prevent inter-sample peaks clipping during playback.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by StudioSound View Post

 

It needs to be done before the conversion from digital to analog; where it happens should not matter, unless you are going to be processing the signal - in which case you need to do it before that processing happens.

 

I would probably use the system volume, because it's a 32-bit floating point control and is probably the highest quality one, with the exception of JRiver which is 64-bit.

 

 

This is because most audio is now mastered to -0.1 dBFS and highly compressed, so most sources will be in the red.

Red does not necessarily mean it's clipping, just that the peaks are very close to 0dB. (if you were recording you would want to stay out of the red though)

 

The problem is that most of these indicators are sample meters, and samples at -0.1 dBFS can clip when converted to an analog waveform. These are known as inter-sample peaks.

You need at least 3dB, but preferably 6dB to prevent inter-sample peaks clipping during playback.

 

Changing the system (master) volume has no affect on the monitor.  If it's showing red, it will stay in red, even with the system master volume @ 0%.
I'm trying to work out where the digital processing it done, would that be in Chrome, I.e - Youtube's volume slider?  Lower volume here would affect the digital signal?  
 
Thanks ever so much for your help!

Edited by fluidz - 8/27/13 at 4:00pm
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