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[Official] OCN Headphones and Earphones Club - Page 1417

post #14161 of 38348
the Windows KMixer alone annoys me to no end. all the math involved behind the scenes just to change the volume adds distortion into the signal. how can it ever replace the feel of a analog pot and piece of aluminum? I will never go back to sound cards. i'm a 32 year old first year engineering student and granted I don't know everything but I will never stop buying boutique products.
Edited by bumblebee1980 - 3/28/13 at 12:53pm
    
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post #14162 of 38348
Nobody knows everything, even about narrow topics, but the first things an engineering student should be asking are
(1) what is the nature of the distortion added?
(2) what is the magnitude of the distortion added?

and depending, maybe questions about the mathematics and the mechanics (for example, is KMixer used for some audio devices and outputs but not for others?), but there's a certain number of things you can learn and spend time on, so I wouldn't fault somebody for considering that extra credit. teaching.gif

(btw KMixer in particular doesn't exist since Vista, though colloquially people often still use it when referring to the current Windows audio stack)


Finally there should be the obvious understanding that for audio products the experience and feel are important, not just the sound quality. People aren't arguing the feel of aluminum.
post #14163 of 38348
whatever i'm not Gordon Rankin. I don't like digital volume control.
    
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post #14164 of 38348
Quote:
all the math involved behind the scenes just to change the volume adds distortion into the signal.

Has there been a study done on this? Anyone measured this distortion or done double blind tests to see if this distortion is audible?
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post #14165 of 38348
Thread Starter 
Well then.

iPhone 5 headphone out sounds great. Pushes Triple.fis (obviously) and my 32 LEs with plenty of power.
 
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post #14166 of 38348
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fortunex View Post

Quote:
all the math involved behind the scenes just to change the volume adds distortion into the signal.

Has there been a study done on this? Anyone measured this distortion or done double blind tests to see if this distortion is audible?

Is this a serious question about what's going on under the hood and what the effects are, or is this rhetorical and you're just making a point? Sorry, I legitimately can't tell and can't figure out how to respond.


edit: a late response but
Quote:
Originally Posted by friend'scatdied View Post

[...]
At the behest of some friendly audio engineers, I participated in a series of blind tests with some astonishingly varied equipment (down from a Creative E-MU 0404 USB up to flagship DACs from Lavry and Benchmark and beyond). I wish I took a picture of my consternation as I failed to reliably discern the blinded devices time after time again. [...]

Too bad you didn't test anything significantly worse. Between higher-end stuff (I would include something like E-MU 0404 as probably overkill, and if that was the low end of the spectrum...), comparisons are not that interesting, as what you got was the expected outcome, at least to realists.
Edited by mikeaj - 3/28/13 at 7:06pm
post #14167 of 38348
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeaj View Post

Is this a serious question about what's going on under the hood and what the effects are, or is this rhetorical and you're just making a point? Sorry, I legitimately can't tell and can't figure out how to respond.


edit: a late response but
Too bad you didn't test anything significantly worse. Between higher-end stuff (I would include something like E-MU 0404 as probably overkill, and if that was the low end of the spectrum...), comparisons are not that interesting, as what you got was the expected outcome, at least to realists.

No I'm actually wondering if this distortion caused by digital volume control has been measured and what audible effects there are (audible effects proven in a controlled testing environment).
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post #14168 of 38348
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fortunex View Post

No I'm actually wondering if this distortion caused by digital volume control has been measured and what audible effects there are (audible effects proven in a controlled testing environment).

Depends on source bit depth and output bit depth, how things are handled in the exact software. Modern Windows uses 32-bit floats for internal calculations, which are overkill, if it's going through system volume.

You can think of software volume control (note: not digitally-controlled analog volume control / attenuation, which exists) as just scaling down the signal level. However, there is a finite number of bits (say 16 or 24) in the representation of every signal value, and the hardware is not noiseless. Just because you scale down the signal word levels doesn't mean the noise level is scaled down just as much.

There can be quantization distortion if the output is not dithered. If it's dithered, then the distortion can be reduced to a very small level or just eliminated. There's a tradeoff involved there. So the main point is that software volume control can reduce the signal-to-noise ratio (depending on by how much, how loud you're listening, etc., it may or may not be significant). Most people don't typically really mean noise when they're talking about distortion.

Worst-case scenario is pretty much when you reduce the level, output as 16 bits, (thus effectively reducing the bit depth, the number of possible values that can be represented) and then somewhere else later, you compensate for the reduced volume by cranking it up again. This is explored a bit in this video, which has many other topics as well:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ

YouTube audio is obviously lossy, so original audio files are here, where you can see for yourself how many (few, any?) bits you can lose from 16 and not notice the difference:
http://www.ethanwiner.com/aes/

Some of the issues and many basic topics for understanding digital audio are covered in this video:
http://xiph.org/video/vid2.shtml
post #14169 of 38348
So what I gathered from that is that except for in very extreme cases, this distortion is negligible, if not completely beyond human hearing.
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post #14170 of 38348
I have been eyeing some Sennheiser HD800s for a long time, now. I may just have to buy some, instead of upgrading to watercooling. Decisions, decisions...
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