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ChrisFromDublin

Digital vs. analogue volume control for digital monitors

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I’m preparing for the arrival of my Genelec 8351A active digital studio monitors. They accept both a digital signal and an analogue signal.

 

My dealer says I’ll get the best result by feeding them an analogue signal, because I can then adjust the volume in the analogue domain, which doesn’t reduce the bit depth of the signal, as any digital volume control will do. But I’d like a second opinion on this.

 

Basically, I have these two options:

 

A: Send digital signal directly to the monitor. The volume control will then be handled in the digital domain, either inside my computer or by the “Genelec Loudspeaker Manager” software inside the monitor.

 

B: Convert the digital signal from my computer to analogue -> Control volume with an old-fashioned analogue pre-amp -> use analogue input on the monitor, after which the signal will be converted back to digital inside the monitor.

 

Does anybody have experiences with the audio quality differences between these two approaches?

Will I be able to hear the difference?

If I had to guess, I would imagine that the all-digital approach might retain more attack, but be less smooth sounding, or perhaps a bit blurry due to the need for more dither. And that the analogue approach might introduce slight changes to the overall tone (which would be of no importance because they would be corrected by Genelec Loudspeaker Manager Digital Room Correction.) But I have no experience with this.

 

I’m aware that it must be of greatest importance which kind of DAC and analogue volume control I use. At the moment I’m using a Benchmark DAC1 PRE, which is both my DAC and my volume control/pre-amp. The music I listen to is 16-bit standard CD quality upsampled to 24-bit in my computer.

 

It must also be of great importance which analogue-to-digital converter the Genelec 83xx-series uses. I haven't been able to find any information about chipsets, shielding etc.; nor tests comparing the quality of the two inputs.

 

Thank you for any help.

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Thank you, everybody! … Yes, theoretically, all of you are right!

 

It doesn’t make sense to convert to analog, and then back again to digital. But the dealer who is of a different opinion is one of the biggest in Europe. I imagine they have listened to more active speakers than any of us, and probably also to each of them in more setups than any of us. I was looking for actual experience with comparing the digital to the semi-digital setup, not just logical thinking about how must be. (Then again, he might just be a temp, speaking nonsense.)

 

I already subscribe to every one of DigiPete’s threads. :-) I wanted to hear from others with digital active studio monitor experience.

 

In a few weeks time, when I get back to my apartment, the monitors will have arrived, and I’ll slowly start doing some experimentation on my own. I have a stressful spring and summer ahead of me, but at some point you’ll hear my two cents.

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I run 8260s with some of the best Vinyl playback gear around and always use the GLM as volume control. The entire benefit of using DSP Genelec's is the simplicity and outstanding accuracy they provide, no need to make the process messy using old school methods. I listen and work on a lot of high end systems and the 8260,s cant be beat easily.

 

@20hertz:

Your setup intrigues me: In your super vinyl system you manage to avoid digitization all the way to the speakers. And then you’ve chosen digital monitors for this system. Can you tell me more about your thoughts behind this?

I would have imagined that you would prefer older analog monitors from Genelec which would allow you to go analog also inside the monitors.

 

I attempted to start a thread about this on the Genelec website, but it didn’t really catch on.

Genelec Community Forum • View topic - How come nobody hates digital monitors?

 

Maybe your experiences merits their own thread here on ComputerAudiophile?

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