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Cannot Set Volume low enough

PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 7:38 pm
by tspellman
Friends,

I am having trouble with the Recording Control when I try to use the Set Volume button on some LPs: I cannot set the volume low enough. I use the Line In signal to record from. The Volume slider is one tick from its lowest position, but I am still overloading the Record Level when I record.

The Recording Control is the sndvol32.exe that came with my Windows XP Home edition; the version is 5.1.2600.0. I am using Wave Corrector 3.1r1. I have a Realtek AC97 Audio card. The driver version is 5.10.0.5410, which is the most current version I can find. I realize the Volume slider is from the Recording Control, not from Wave Corrector. Is there a way to tell Wave Corrector to use a lower volume?

FYI, I corresponded with Derek Higgens last year. He kindly suggested I might "record from 'stereo mix' output of the soundcard mixer, rather than recording directly from the line-in. This has the advantage that you can turn down the volume using the playback 'line-in' control and then reduce it further using the recording volume control. Although this will probably work, it will also degrade the quality somewhat and it would be better if you could somehow reduce the signal level going into the soundcard." I don't know how to reduce the signal as it is just coming from my preamp.

Tim Spellman

Re: Volume Control

PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 8:23 pm
by butchmoore
Not knowing what kind of turntable you are using I can only tell you what I'm doing. I use a non-amplified turntable to my sound card then normalizing the wave file to increase the volume. This also gives me the ability to standardiz the volume of all my music as I mix the music to burn to CD's. otherwise you could get a CD with varied volumes on the songs. Seems to work for me but not saying it's the pro way of doing it.

Butch Moore

Re: Cannot Set Volume low enough

PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 9:08 pm
by adaywayne
tspellman wrote:Friends,

I am having trouble with the Recording Control when I try to use the Set Volume button on some LPs: I cannot set the volume low enough. I use the Line In signal to record from. The Volume slider is one tick from its lowest position, but I am still overloading the Record Level when I record.

The Recording Control is the sndvol32.exe that came with my Windows XP Home edition; the version is 5.1.2600.0. I am using Wave Corrector 3.1r1. I have a Realtek AC97 Audio card. The driver version is 5.10.0.5410, which is the most current version I can find. I realize the Volume slider is from the Recording Control, not from Wave Corrector. Is there a way to tell Wave Corrector to use a lower volume?

FYI, I corresponded with Derek Higgens last year. He kindly suggested I might "record from 'stereo mix' output of the soundcard mixer, rather than recording directly from the line-in. This has the advantage that you can turn down the volume using the playback 'line-in' control and then reduce it further using the recording volume control. Although this will probably work, it will also degrade the quality somewhat and it would be better if you could somehow reduce the signal level going into the soundcard." I don't know how to reduce the signal as it is just coming from my preamp.

Tim Spellman


Because it would involve tearing down a wall of my house to get to the back of my stereo equipment, I have been using the headphone-out jack.

Dozens of "experts" have told me this is a strict no-no because:

1. I would fry my soundcard.

2. The signal from the headphone jack is specially equalised for headphones and other "effects" added, such as pseudo-stereo.

Well, I can agree with (1), but not if you set your amplifier volume control to, say, the 25% level before starting.

As for (2) my ears tell me that is not a concern. I also contacted Yamaha, the manufacturer of my amplifier, and was assured that the headphone output was a "pure" output, taken from one of the intermediate AF amplifier stages via the attenuating volume control. They even sent me a circuit diagram. So I am quite happy in my ignorance! But, as I said, keep the volume control low to start!

PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2005 9:36 pm
by citguy
Hi Tim. I am running my turntable into an old Dynaco Preamp (PAT4) I have had for over 30 years and had placed in the "store room". I have a choice of outputs that bypass volume and tone controls or outputs that employ the controls. I am using the output that passes thru the controls. It gives be a bit more control, especially when doing 78's. I just did 400 78's.

Re: Cannot Set Volume low enough

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 9:50 am
by Derek
In addition to the other comments, another possibility is to use a pair of inline attenuators in your feed from amplifer to soundcard. The only problem with these is that they tend to be quite expensive as they are made for the hifi market, some of which has more money than sense :)

Of course, if you are handy with a soldering iron, you could make them yourself with a pair of resistors.

Re: Cannot Set Volume low enough

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 3:44 pm
by george
With my new machine, I've had a similar problem with 2 different sound cards. I have a TEAC turntable with a built-in preamp. What I found was that Radio Shack sells a small inline attenuator which is meant for headphones. I think it only cost about $5 (US).

This worked out great for me, and gave me about a 5dB attenuation in my recordings with the attenuator set about halfway and the slider in the Volume Control panel set about a third of the way up the scale. I realize that this device is merely a variable resistor and so is an analog part, but it seems to work well. Time will tell if this will degrade in the long run.

BTW, the 5dB attenuation was measured by doing an RMS on all samples in each recording. My latest (and last) album without the device was about -11dB and with the setup mentioned earlier was about -16dB. The -11dB recording was clipping rather heavily but played nice and LOUD, and I could hear distortion quite easily. The -16dB recording only clipped about 5 samples and I did have to turn the volume up a bit on my speakers but could not detect any obvious distortion.

I had written to Derek sometime last year (when using my previous machine) about the low volume on some of my non-distorted recordings. I've done 2 things to help in this regard:
1) I raise the volume just a bit to allow a small amount of clipping.
2) I use a compression program to give me up to 3db of increase.
I do this only if it is necessary. Some of my old albums are really quiet, being in the -25db to -22db range.

I hope these items may help you out and give you some other ideas to try.

Re: Cannot Set Volume low enough

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 6:02 pm
by andyclews
[quote="tspellman"]Friends,

I am having trouble with the Recording Control when I try to use the Set Volume button on some LPs: [i]I cannot set the volume low enough.[/i] I use the Line In signal to record from. The Volume slider is one tick from its lowest position, but I am still overloading the Record Level when I record.


Tim Spellman[/quote]

I have a similar problem but it doesn't seem to matter what the source is, because I also get it when recording a soundstream downloading from the web (e.g. radio playback from BBC). This is on a Dell Dimension 4550. No such problems on an older Dell Dimension XPS R400, though that is no longer connected to the 'net. Seems to depend on the soundcard in use. Even with the volume slider set to the lowest point, I still get overloads.

PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2005 9:05 pm
by citguy
One additional suggestion over an external control preamp. My HP Pavillion (bought second hand) had a mixer board utility loaded which controls inputs, levels, etc. I really don't understand how it interfaces. I also have a Riptide sound card but am unsure if I am running all signals through it or not. The options on the computer resemble the mess of wires behind my stereo. :D

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 3:06 am
by adaywayne
Just one question. When you all talk about setting the volume controls slider all the way down, are you sure you are talking about the "recording" volume control? Go to Windows master volume control and then to Options> Properties, and make sure you have "recording" selected. Then select "What-U-Hear" or "Analog Mix".

If you then move the selected input slider all the way down, the input signal level should be zero!
Arnie

Thanks for all the ideas

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 11:59 am
by tspellman
What a great list. Thanks for all the ideas.

adaywayne: your walkthrough of the Windows Master Volume control diverged from the way my software works at the Recording Properties. This made me realize that even though I'm using Microsoft's Recording Control, it is at least in part goverened by my Realtek AC97 Audio driver. I may wind up with a hardware (resistor) assist, but I'm going to go poking about on Realtek for a while and see what I come up with.

Re: Thanks for all the ideas

PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 3:30 pm
by adaywayne
tspellman wrote:What a great list. Thanks for all the ideas.

adaywayne: your walkthrough of the Windows Master Volume control diverged from the way my software works at the Recording Properties. This made me realize that even though I'm using Microsoft's Recording Control, it is at least in part goverened by my Realtek AC97 Audio driver. I may wind up with a hardware (resistor) assist, but I'm going to go poking about on Realtek for a while and see what I come up with.


Good point. Under "Recording" I have a choice of:

Midi Syn
What-U-Hear
CD Digital
Analog Mix(Line, CD/Aux/TAD, PC)
Microphone
Wave/MP3

I select Line-In and keep that Recording Line-In slider minimized so I can easily access it during recording.

Arnie

sound source?

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2005 2:00 pm
by db_york
What kind of turntable / cartridge / preamp are you using?

Could there be a moving coil / moving magnet mismatch between the cartridge and preamp?

Does the turntable have a built in preamp (so signal is getting amplified again)?

Apologies if these are obvious but I've fallen foul of them myself....

Re: sound source?

PostPosted: Fri Feb 18, 2005 1:00 am
by adaywayne
db_york wrote:What kind of turntable / cartridge / preamp are you using?

Could there be a moving coil / moving magnet mismatch between the cartridge and preamp?

Does the turntable have a built in preamp (so signal is getting amplified again)?

Apologies if these are obvious but I've fallen foul of them myself....

~~~~~~~~~~~
None of those is really relevant. Somewhere in either the Windows volume control panel or the soundard mixer, there is at lest one slider which will take the recording volume all the way down to zero! You just have to find it.

PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2005 2:18 pm
by deadpoirotsketch
Sorry I'm late for this discussion.

When the analogue signal reaching the Analog-to-Digital Convertor (ADC) on your sound card is too high then the waveform produced in the digital domain will exhibit clipping. Viewing the waveform of a wav file produced witha too hot analog signal will show the largest peaks to be sheered off like mountain plateaus.

Digital clipping sounds BAD, and this is the reason why you need to keep the peak levels on recording under the 0db level - unlike with an analog tape recorder where the tape saturation effect of letting the levels exceed 0db slightly can actually produce a pleasing "tape compression" effect. From what I've read a level of around -6db for digital recording leaves sufficient headroom, and also allows for some digital processing work on the waveform without the risk of introducing digital clipping that way.

The problem is that even if you use a mixer/volume control in a program running in Windows this is likely only to affect the volume of the digitsed waveform emerging from the DAC and not the volume of the hot analog signal the ADC receives. As a result you will record a waveform at a lower db level (i.e. relatively smaller peaks and troughs) but all that nasty digital clipping will still be present in the waveform. Most soundcards do not seem to have a pot to adjust incoming analogue signal - they just rely on hardware default output being compatible - which mostly, these days, it is.

As indicated in earlier posts the best solution is to use a lower level analogue signal, which avoids the digital clipping. You may be lucky enough to have an adjustable line out on your pre-amp or amplifier. Unfortunately this isn't always the case. If you are electronically minded I guess you could knock up a potential divider circuit to do the job.

Alternatively there are some phono pre-amps on the market which do include the necessary output level control. These can be expensive. I'm taking the opportunity to recommend one relatively cheap pre-amp that does the job for me. (Another approach might be to buy a deck with an in-built phono pre-amp. These can be quite cheap. Bush make one for about £50, but I guess you get what you pay for.)

I actually use a pre-amp that came with a copy of Steinberg Clean Plus!. You have to have the "Plus" version to get the pre-amp. Clean Plus is a software package that cleans vinyl recordings and I find it complimentary to wave corrector. I think wave corrector handles de-clicking better, but Clean can handle crackle and has other useful features which make it worthwhile having both. It might be worth getting Clean Plus just for the pre-amp. I fear the product might have been recently discontinued but you might be able to get a second-hand copy from Amazon or find one still on the shelves in PC World. It was about £55 new.

The pre-amp has 3 output volume settings and its input is adjustable to match the capacitance of your phono cartridge. It connects to a sound card joystick socket to get power and the output is in the form of a 3.5mm stereo jack. I use a 3.5mm stereo jack inline socket to two phono plug stereo adapter cable to match it to the phono inputs on my M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 card.

I believe later versions of Clean Plus come with a pre-amp that works and gains its power from a USB connection.

I have no connection with Steinberg and no financial interest in recommending this product. As far as the software goes, I find Clean interesting and fun to experiment with (e.g. in making surround sound mixes or widening stereo width etc) but I prefer wave corrector to do the serious stuff of getting rid of clicks and pops over the facilities in Clean. I think there is definitely room for both products on the market.

I hope this helps somebody.

PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2005 2:57 pm
by adaywayne
Re the preceding post, I am sure that the "Line-In" volume control slider works on the incoming analog signal, otherwise, as stated, clipping would be experienced. I have just, in fact, checked it. With the volume control set high, the A/D converter of my Audigy card produces digital clipping. With the volume control set lower, it does not.
Arnie