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Best software audio volume level in Windows XP?
post Dec 15 2012, 18:37
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Hello there folks, as someone who likes music I would like to know, what is the best volume level to use on the system volume sliders in 64-bit Windows XP. My father who has some experience with sound equipment and music always taught me to set the volume on all the sliders to around 70 percent but not above that as it may cause clipping/distortion, is that true? I've read the opposite on the internet, that lowering the volume sliders in Windows XP "reduces the bit resolution" of the signal and therefore all volume sliders should always be set to 100 percent, so what is true? I have however also read that on certain onboard audio cards setting the slider to max indeed causes clipping and distortion. I have the onboard Realtek HD audio.

Thanks in advance for any good tips.
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post Dec 29 2012, 16:32
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I'm using Windows XP SP3 + RealTek HD Audio Driver + foobar2000 with Kernel Streaming output.

My goal is to play (within reason) bit-perfect high resolution full dynamic range audio through conventional audiophile equipment as 2+2 (4 speakers) stereo.

Inside Computer:
- Windows: Set all controls of Windows Volume Control (sndvol32.exe) to: "Balance=Center" and "Volume=Max"
- foobar2000: Set volume control to maximum (0 dB); Set Preferences>Playback>Output>Device to "KS: Realtek HD Audio Output"

Outside Computer:
- Using Pro quality cables with Neutrik connectors everywhere, and nice fat speaker wire.
- Output signal from back of PC is split as two signals using a splitter box.
- Signals go to two identical powerful integrated amplifiers (600 Watts, Class AB, 0.02% THD, 60 RMS Watts per Channel @ 8 ohms) with all tone circuits defeated/bypassed.
- Amp 1 - signal goes to rearfield speaker pair: Fostex SM6600 vintage studio monitors.
- Amp 2 - signal goes to nearfield speaker pair: ATC SCM19 loudspeakers.

I adjust the volume knob of each amplifier so the total effect of all 4 speakers sounds nice and balanced.

That's it . . . it's a very impressive listen with a mind-blowing sound stage . . . I am happy.

The listening room is rather small with no reverberative coloring which helps give me an immersive and intimate experience with the loudspeakers.

I am not ALWAYS hung up on perfect signal quality; In practice, I frequently use the foobar2000 volume slider without concern for 100% bit-perfect output ....I have got many MP3 tracks in my collection which sound better than 16/44 or 24/96 lossless tracks which have been ripped from a different release .....It just goes to show that the quality of the source material is MUCH more important than the quality of the audio format or any other consideration (such as volume control).

This post has been edited by derty2: Dec 29 2012, 17:29
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