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Soundcards Volume Settings, 100% or 0 dB Level?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

It seems obvious for PC audio that when using an external amplifier for speakers or headphones the master volume should be 100%, and you should control volume by the amplifier,
in theory this way should guarantee the best SQ possible,


Well this is true for a lot of cards where the max volume corresponds to the 0dB level, like a lot of professional cards, you set it and forget it,
but a lot of other cards don't show in software the 0 db level, and some of them apply o lot of gain at the max volume,
for example Auzentech Prelude configured at 100% volume often distorts and go in clipping, proof that the 0 dB level is way before the max volume,


For configuring the 0dB level in these cards I use a simple method though not sure if its correct,
I just download some pure tone test files in 1Khz or 500Hz,(http://www.ronelmm.com/tones/) play them through Foobar- Asio (Audio Creation Mode) with the volume at 50%(windows volume, foobar`s is always 100%), then measure the outputs of the cards with a RMS multimeter (AC with V scale) (+ and - of the RCA plug)
normally at 0dB level volume the card should output 1V rms, so I just raise the volume until I measure 1V with the multimeter, for the Prelude the 0dB level is around the 82% volume, so this should be the optimal level for bit perfect output,
What do you think? What are your volume settings for the other cards?


Edited by sonci - 1/2/14 at 1:38am
post #2 of 7

lol... can you hear the sound quality difference when your master volume is 95%? just curious

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by money4me247 View Post
 

lol... can you hear the sound quality difference when your master volume is 95%? just curious

certainly I can hear when the card distorts..

but this is not the point, honestly I just want my set up to be at the best possible, 

as for the fact if I hear differences from flac to mp3 or DS to ASIO, that`s not the point of this thread..

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonci View Post
 

certainly I can hear when the card distorts..

but this is not the point, honestly I just want my set up to be at the best possible, 

as for the fact if I hear differences from flac to mp3 or DS to ASIO, that`s not the point of this thread..

hahah i was just curious. i've heard somewhere that is better to keep your source volume at like 80%. don't rmb why they said that but that's what my volume is on.

post #5 of 7

Well, if your soundcard clips at 100% then you should lower the volume until the clipping is gone and back off a bit more.

 

Going for a fixed voltage like 1 V is problematic imo. The specs for the Prelude 7.1 say:

Quote:
 Audio Performance (Rated Output @ 5Vrms, Typical Value)

 

So you'd attenuate by like 14 dB, while the full 5Vrms output may still be undistorted. If you can turn up the volume higher than that I don't know, I don't own that card.

 

 

Maybe the problem is further down the chain anyway. The O2 amp, for example, clips at over 2.8V input with the default 2.5x gain.

 

 

edit: Btw, have you tried setting the volume slider to decibel and see if it really goes above 0 dB?
Alternatively, you could try my autohotkey volume control (set DisplayMode to "dB").


Edited by xnor - 1/1/14 at 6:44pm
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
 

Well, if your soundcard clips at 100% then you should lower the volume until the clipping is gone and back off a bit more.

 

Going for a fixed voltage like 1 V is problematic imo. The specs for the Prelude 7.1 say:

 

So you'd attenuate by like 14 dB, while the full 5Vrms output may still be undistorted. If you can turn up the volume higher than that I don't know, I don't own that card.

 

 

Maybe the problem is further down the chain anyway. The O2 amp, for example, clips at over 2.8V input with the default 2.5x gain.

 

 

edit: Btw, have you tried setting the volume slider to decibel and see if it really goes above 0 dB?
Alternatively, you could try my autohotkey volume control (set DisplayMode to "dB").

Thanks for the reply,

I know my method is not perfect, but I notice the card sound better when the volume is less than 100%, though not clipping always,

the problem with the creative cards is that they dont show the volume in dB, like their sister cards EMUs do,

and yes the Prelude can go well behind the 100%, because there are some sliders  for each channels if you look at the left of the picture, and the 0dB level is at 75% of the bar..

I thought the 1V RMS is a standard for consumer cards, strange that every manufacter can chose what they want,

It`s also strange that people, spend time and effort for bit perfect playback, investigate Asio and wasapi and a lot of audio players, but still you cannot find nowhere what the perfect volume settings should be for different cards

 

 

PS: How to install your script?

Can I uninstall it if things go wrong?


Edited by sonci - 1/2/14 at 1:36am
post #7 of 7

The standards for nominal levels are -10 dBV (= 0.316 Vrms) for consumers and +4 dBu (= 1.228 Vrms) for studios. Usually there is a few dB headroom.

CD players use a quasi standard 2 Vrms for full-scale signals, so there may not be any headroom.

 

Depending on what the soundcard was made for it can be one of those nominal levels, CD player level, or higher to drive high-impedance headphones.

 

 

Do you drive the headphones directly or do you have an amp connected, because it really could be the amp's input stage clipping.

 

 

You install the script by installing Autohotkey, placing the script in your documents folder (overwrite the stock one), double click it. If you edit it just double click it again.

To uninstall just delete the file, and uninstall Autohotkey if you don't need it anymore.

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