Digital Volume

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Crisnee
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Digital Volume

Post by Crisnee » Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:48 am

I've heard various opinions on digital volume controls going from, "they're the only way to go," to "they degrade the sound." For instance one software producer has a digital volume in his program and he suggests you by pass your pre-amp and go directly to the amp and drive it with the software's digital volume control for the best sound. So I'm confused.

Are there different kinds of digital controls? The one in Decibel seems to be lossy according to what I've read. Now, if indeed it does degrade the sound why is it in this program which appears to be an attempt at the simple and pristine approach to sound. Or perhaps it doesn't degrade the sound but is thought to because it "must," according to the "rules," of digital volume controls.

If someone could explain how it works and how it degrades the sound (if it does) I would really appreciate it. Also leaving it set at -1 to prevent it from degrading the sound as opposed to disabling it; what exactly is the difference?

Chris

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sbooth
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Re: Digital Volume

Post by sbooth » Tue Jun 21, 2011 5:10 am

If the digital volume is disabled in Decibel, the code that performs the volume adjustment is bypassed completely. If the digital volume is set to 1.0, the audio is multiplied by 1.0 which leaves the sound unaltered, but takes a small amount of processing power.

Crisnee
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Re: Digital Volume

Post by Crisnee » Tue Jun 21, 2011 5:18 pm

Thanks for that, but how about my other questions. Anyone willing to tackle a more detailed response?

Chris

CG
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Re: Digital Volume

Post by CG » Tue Jun 21, 2011 6:53 pm

The basic approach of "digital volume control" is to multiply each audio sample by some factor so that the level is lower.

That all sounds nice and easy, but it should be somewhat obvious that this corrupts the original signal. So, what?

Here's what one guy has to say: http://extra.benchmarkmedia.com/wiki/in ... e_controls

My opinion is that for background music while sitting at your computer, digital volume is probably fine. If you're paying attention to your computer, you may not be paying close attention to any music being played. If you - OK - if I - want to really listen to music, I just won't use digital volume control. Even at my computer desk, where the speakers and subwoofer aren't exactly state-of-the-art, I don't use digital volume control.

I'm sure other people's opinions differ on this. Perhaps that's why Stephen offers the option. I'm not sure you can read any sort of grand philosophical implications or intent from offering the feature as an option.

Crisnee
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Re: Digital Volume

Post by Crisnee » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:23 am

Thanks CG.

Are there different types of Digital Volume Controls? Peter (the developer over at XXHiend and the producer of the NOS1, a dac that some swear is the best ever) says that his digital volume control in XXHiend is better than any analog control and recommends using it instead of a preamp. (In case folks aren't aware of XXHiend; its a digital player for the pc (no MAC version) aimed solely at getting the best sound out of a computer, everything else is secondary; it's very tweaky; it's been going through revisions for several years). Any thoughts?

Chris

CG
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Re: Digital Volume

Post by CG » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:00 am

"Are there different types of Digital Volume Controls?"

Yes and no. Yes, they all use the same basic process. No, in that the details of how they might apply dither or rounding is probably different.

As for XXHiend and the rest, each is entitled to her or his own opinion. I think when you get to this sort of discussion, it may be better to wade in over at Computer Audiophile or Audio Asylum rather than on a support forum for Decibel.

Crisnee
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Re: Digital Volume

Post by Crisnee » Thu Jun 23, 2011 4:32 am

Well, the reason I was asking here is because of the digital volume control on Decibel. In a very quick comparison I couldn't hear a difference between using the control and not doing so, so I wondered about it, and whether it really was audibly lossy or... and brought up the various opinions on said controls.

Since no-one here besides you seems to be the least bit interested in this subject I guess I'll drop it and go back to my Pcs.

Chris

CG
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Re: Digital Volume

Post by CG » Thu Jun 23, 2011 2:22 pm

This is really a support forum, so I wouldn't expect many people to want to discuss the fine points of this sort of thing here, except in regard to how Decibel works (or doesn't in the case of a bug).

Just one question - if you can't hear a difference, and it's absolutely believable that you might not, why worry about it?

Crisnee
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Re: Digital Volume

Post by Crisnee » Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:54 am

I realize that it's a support forum which is why I asked about it here. I think it's a crucial element (possibly one of a very few) regarding software and I'd like to understand exactly where the degradation of the sound (if there is any) comes in. And if it does degrade the sound why it is part of this type of program. I also had the notion--probably erroneous, that Steve doesn't think it does degrade the sound but doesn't want to spend his time arguing the point.

I haven't heard an obvious difference, but I have not been able to listen in a setup where I can critically compare Decibel with and without.

Chris

Crisnee
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Re: Digital Volume

Post by Crisnee » Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:40 pm

Well as I mentioned this was about support for Decibel. I was asking about the digital volume because it was a deciding factor on whether I was going with Decibel and even whether I was going with a Mac as opposed to continuing with pcs.

Well I've decided to stick with pcs since there doesn't seem to be much enthusiasm here for Decibel and its possibilities. This may seem over the top but I actually bought a refurbished Mac Mini because of Decibel and what I'd heard about it. I thought I'd finally make the Mac plunge (I intensely dislike the "walled garden" mentality of Apple but I like some of their products anyway). It was an impetuous move I realize, and I regret it. But my questions were truly for Decibel support. I guess I'm used to XXHiend where they give you more than ample support and explanations/philosophy.

So if anyone's interested in a warrantied refurbished Mac Mini, I've listed it on Audiogon.

Chris

CG
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Re: Digital Volume

Post by CG » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:27 am

Well, I wish you the best with your Windows system - no sarcasm implied.

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