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Black Mage

Volume levels across my system?

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I know this is a trivial question, but here goes.

When I listen to music or watch movies on my computers, there are three points of volume control before it reaches my ears. First there's the media program's volume level, then there's the Windows volume level, and finally there's the volume knob on my speakers.

Is there any optimum combination of those three that gives a better sound quality than others? Should iTunes and Windows both be at 50%, 75%, or 100% and me control the volume via my speakers? Does any combination result in more popping than another? Or does it all not matter?

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I always have windows blaring then adjust the nob for speakers, mainly because then there is only 1 nob you ever need to worry about unless you want to turn down just one application. Also, I might be wrong, but I think you would get less noise from the questionable pre-amp in your soundcard (assuming you are integrated) if the signal is the loudest it can be vs the static noise floor.

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It does matter... kinda. If you have multiple sources of volume together, and they're louder than the digital clipping point, your speakers will pop and distort. Very unpleasant, and can be avoided by turning your software volumes down to 50% instead of 100%, then turning up your speakers. If you have bad speakers, turning up the speaker volume may introduce unwanted hiss and hum, but if that's not a problem, that's generally preferable. Otherwise, there are no sound quality issues.

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