How do sound card volume controls work?
Jul 10, 2005 at 8:20 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


100+ Head-Fier
May 22, 2004
How is the volume control implemented on most sound cards? I've heard many mention sound cards should either be kept at full volume(for high end cards), or about 75%(for lower end cards that might distort at full volume). How is this global "analog" volume control implemented? Would using it instead of a volume control on an amp constitute a quality loss?

I'm looking at building a KGSS, and by far, the most expensive components are the stepped attenuators(most agree that only stepped attenuators should be used). Since I was planning to feed it from an EMU card anyway, which has built in volume control, I was hoping maybe I could exclude the attenuators(which aren't even in the schematic in the first place...they aren't an integral part of the amp) and just use the sound card volume control instead. Assuming the EMU volume control is up to snuff, this would get even more out of the signal path, and reduce the cost of the amp by more than half!

All my other ideas at a cheap KGSS involve crazy things like varying the bias voltage(with a bleeder resistor) with the volume setting…so this one is by far the easiest.

The search function didn't work last night or this morning...sorry if this is obvious.

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