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ChrisFromDublin

Digital vs. analogue volume control for digital monitors

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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.

 

Back and forth digital conversion is bad. You end up limiting dynamic by adding extra analog noise this way.

 

If your source material is mostly 16-bit, with 24-bit output you can lower volume to -48 dB in digital domain without any loss in dynamic range. In analog domain you would have dynamic range limited by the analog noise floor earlier. In addition if you can upsample to 176.4/192k rates (assuming those monitors accept such input) you can also utilize noise shaping to increase dynamic range further across the audio band. Just make sure you use digital volume with proper dither applied.

 

One thing to note is that with a software based volume control you need to be very careful to avoid accidental volume surprises, and if possible with the software you use, set limit for the maximum volume. Good thing with traditional non-software controlled analog volume is that it is not so easy to have volume accidents...


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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Any reason the industry leader in digital input monitors suddenly should not be trusted to do proper dithering?

 

I think this is more about using some external volume control rather than built-in (I don't know if there's such).

 

In many cases, when a device with built-in DAC provides volume control, the offered volume control is the on-DAC-chip one. On the other hand, many digital engineers believe it is not worth dithering 24-bit due to low level of the errors so you cannot take dither as granted. Proper implementation is another matter. Measuring the built-in electronics would tell something. (I'd be curious to know what DAC chip they use)

 

Being "industry leader" is not a valid technical argument... ;)


Signalyst - Developer of HQPlayer

Pulse & Fidelity - Software Defined Amplifiers

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