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Where to increase the volume for the best sound

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I've played around with this and am not 100% sure what the best combination is to get the best quality sound.

 

If I have a device with a volume control that is connected to speakers that also have a volume control, and if I want to listen to something reasonably loud, but not distort the sound, what is the correct formula for a setup?  For example, is it better to have volume at 30% on the device and 80% on the speaker, or something like 70% - 70%?  

 

Two example setups are a PC connected to speakers and an iPhone connected to Bluetooth speakers.

 

Thanks


Edited by superdragon - 3/7/15 at 8:37pm
post #2 of 6

As long as you keep both under the level of clipping, you should be fine.

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

I've played around with this and am not 100% sure what the best combination is to get the best quality sound.

If I have a device with a volume control that is connected to speakers that also have a volume control, and if I want to listen to something reasonably loud, but not distort the sound, what is the correct formula for a setup?  For example, is it better to have volume at 30% on the device and 80% on the speaker, or something like 70% - 70%?  

Two example setups are a PC connected to speakers and an iPhone connected to Bluetooth speakers.

 

It's better to have the source's volume controls set to as high as possible, like 75% or higher.

And use the last volume control, at the end of the chain, to control volume.

So technically you would want the speaker's volume control, to adjust volume, but that is not always practical.

 

I have the volume controls on my PC maxed out (100%).

But as I have an external DAC connected between my computer and my studio monitor speakers, I leave my speakers at around 50% and use the DAC's volume knob to control volume.

post #4 of 6

That depends if the volume control is boosting it or diminishing it from line level.

post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by superdragon View Post
 

I've played around with this and am not 100% sure what the best combination is to get the best quality sound.

 

If I have a device with a volume control that is connected to speakers that also have a volume control, and if I want to listen to something reasonably loud, but not distort the sound, what is the correct formula for a setup?  For example, is it better to have volume at 30% on the device and 80% on the speaker, or something like 70% - 70%?  

 

Two example setups are a PC connected to speakers and an iPhone connected to Bluetooth speakers.

 

Thanks


I doubt you can ever clip the internal amp of the speakers with an Iphone, still it's something to pay attention to. turn your iphone to the max and listen for audible distortions on the loud sounds. if all sounds good, you can let it like that and set your loudness on the speakers.

 

for the iphone through BT, when you set the volume on the iphone, you just digitally change the values of each music sample, so outside of some increase in quantization noise, at some point you may start crushing some bits that had music on them. it would be best to have the iphone maxed out or at least close to the max(and use a little headroom for you to set the volume to your convenience).

post #6 of 6

The short quick answer is, all your gain should be at your first stage, every device after that should be run at unity gain (the level out is the same as the level in).

 

The correct way is to know the maximum output of each device in the chain, for example a recording signal flow would be a microphone, the mixer, a compressor, eq and into the digital i/o of the recorder. 

 

The microphone is an extremely low level, you would set the mixer channel fader to unity as well as the master fader, you would adjust the preamp gain of the channel input to the desired level 0dB lets say it is drums and sometimes it peaks at + 20dB the console clips at +20, the compressor clips at +24 so you would add 4 dB at the input of the compressor, you are only compressing 4dB on the peaks so the output would be +20 again, however the eq clips at +18 so you would need to reduce the level on the output of the compressor 2dB so that you do not clip the input of the eq. You boost a bunch of bass on the eq and now you are clipping the output of the eq so you must reduce the input of the eq so that you stop clipping the output. Finally it is feeding a digital I/O that can only take +14 levels so you will have to reduce the output of the eq 4 dB.

 

In this way everything in the signal flow clips at the same time and you are not overlooking clipping in the middle of the chain.

On home equipment this is harder to find the maximum input and output of each device if it is even specified. 

 

If you still have a CD player an easy way would be to adjust the level of the device so that it as never louder then the the CD player level. Hopefully everything else in the chain is designed to handle that level. 

 

Now if you listen at very low levels (I often do) you might reduce the gain so that your volume control is running more in the 50% to 70% range to give you finer control over the volume.

 

Most devices seem to slightly distorting at 100% so I generally only run them at 90% or lower to give them some headroom.

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