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Thread: Power/Volume/Monitor/Interface question of doom.

  1. #1
    Paranundrum is offline Newbie
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    Post Power/Volume/Monitor/Interface question of doom.

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    Hi people!

    As you all know, your computer has volume control, your audio interface has volume control, and your active monitors have volume control. I always tend to leave the computers volume MAX and control master volume from my Profire interface.

    My active monitors are currently set at 50%, sometimes when I want to step back and crank a mix-down, I wish it were a little louder.

    _______________________

    My question is... Which of the three below would be less harmful to my monitors. (for when I want a very loud playback that will not distort or blow my monitors)

    1. 100% Max Computer volume, 100% Max interface output to monitors, 50% monitors.
    2. 100% Max Computer volume, 20-30% interface output to monitors, 100% monitors.
    3. Other? (please explain)

    (By "max computer volume" I only mean the overall volume control in windows, not the fader levels of my DAW)

    I am using a high-end PC, Cakewalk Sonar Producer 8.5, M-Audio Profire610, and Mackie MR8MK2's.


    Thanks for reading!!!

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    Mo Facta's Avatar
    Mo Facta is offline Farts of Nature
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paranundrum View Post
    My question is... Which of the three below would be less harmful to my monitors. (for when I want a very loud playback that will not distort or blow my monitors)
    I'm not sure if you've got your head around this level/volume thing and how it relates to your monitors. Your active monitors no doubt have a precisely matched amp/speaker combination. Also, they most likely have (I think the Mackies do) some sort of overload protection so they are pretty protected already from short bursts of high level.

    The point is that it is not advisable to take your monitors toward the point where a) the speakers distort, or b) the input stage distorts for extended periods of time. It should be easy to tell when you arrive at those points. The way this is combated is by maintaining proper gain staging and working with a calibrated monitor control.

    Thus, to answer your numbered questions, you should keep your DAW master fader at 0dBfs (100%), your interface's software mixer output fader at 0dBfs, and have a one-stop monitor control knob. I personally have my monitors' gain set to their unity (+4dBu) position. Depending on your monitors that may vary but starting with them all the way up should be ok! Other than that, the secret here is to keep your levels conservative internally within the DAW thereby fully utilizing the available headroom and dynamic rage available to you when you mix. Over time it begins to become clear how to proper manage your levels.

    Next is monitor control calibration. For information on calibrating your monitor control, check out this link:

    monitor-calibration | m | audio-faq

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers

  3. #3
    Paranundrum is offline Newbie
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    Yes, I think I am over complicating things because of my lack of knowledge in regards to Monitors and the chain of volume faders. I guess what I am afraid of, is that if I left the monitors turned all the way up 24/7 (even when not in use) that the amp it's self would over heat and fry the board. I JUST bought these as a replacement to my old Alesis M1 MkII's, so I am an over protecting parent at the moment and don't wanna hurt my new babies. That's why I left them right in the middle gain, and have had to turn the master volume on my interface ALL the way up when I want to bleed my ears.

    It has never reached a point where distortion has occurred, but I wanted to be sure that what I was doing was not going to damage anything.

    I will keep the DAW fader @ 0db as usual, the Profire output @ 0db, use the hardware interface as my primary volume controller to the monitors, and bring the gain in my monitors up another quarter so that I don't have to turn the interface up to its highest output level to listen to final mixes at high volumes.



    Thanks, thanks, thanks for the quick reply! You have helped greatly!


    *reading about calibration*

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    Mo Facta's Avatar
    Mo Facta is offline Farts of Nature
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    Well, to put your fears at rest, your monitors are in no danger of overheating just by merely turning their gain all the way up. They will only overheat when you drive them at high volume levels (and I mean at their limits) for extended periods of time - a big no no anyway. The only danger you may be at risk for is a lightning strike or a power surge but I'm pretty sure the Mackies have got fuses to protect them.

    If you want to be strict about it, monitor gain should be set for the size of the room. If you're in a small room, 8 inch drivers may be too loud so you'll have to turn them down accordingly. It's not rocket surgery, just use your intuition.

    Cheers

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