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When i turn the volume of the input to my "amp" to the max, my speakers crackle. If i turn the volume down of the input and up for the amp, so the volume is the same as before, it's perfectly fine. My question is if the audio quality gets better the lower the input volume is, or there's another reason for this? The speakers are almost brand new, and my brother have had the same problem with his 2-3 year old ones. Thanks

Edit: This is my amplifier http://nadelectronics.com/products/hifi-amplifiers/C-316BEE-Stereo-Integrated-Amplifier

Computer -> Amplifier -> Speakers
  100%        50%   <- Crackle  
  50%         100%  <- No crackle
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Could you post a short sample of the "crackle" on Soundcloud? It may help in determining the source of the problem. Clipping distortion sounds drastically different from an over driven speaker. –  Friend Of George Nov 30 '12 at 14:45
    
I'm a little worried if it hurts my speakers.. it sounds like a bad radio signal or something.. –  Dremp Nov 30 '12 at 14:54
    
Maybe i got the word amplifier wrong.. it's thing i wire my speakers into with raw wires.. if that makes sense :/ –  Dremp Nov 30 '12 at 14:55

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

If you are just using the normal output of the computer system, then you are sending too much signal to the amplifier: the computer is adding gain to the audio signal and then the amplifier is re-amplifying it.

This is essentially how distortion pedals work for guitars: they add gain before the primary amplifier.

Adjust the volume downwards on the computer and use the amp as the volume control (as you discovered)

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Thanks for the explanation, to conclusion: i can't play sound at 100%. How much should i then have the input sound set to? –  Dremp Nov 30 '12 at 15:17
    
@dremp, Depends... Practically speaking, just less than the point at which it begins to distort. My general rule of thumb (not always correct, but hard to break things this way) is to think of any volume pot as working on a logarithmic scale. Picture the linear fader on a console. "Zero" is at approximately 75% of max. I usually try to gain structure at that "zero" point along the signal path, using the final stage to actually adjust listening volume. Of course there are exceptions, but as a general rule of thumb... –  JoshP Nov 30 '12 at 16:11
    
I have gotten into the "ocd" of having my input at 15/100 and then the "amp" volume pointing straight <- that way. But i will need a bit more volume, so i don't really know what to do ;P –  Dremp Nov 30 '12 at 16:14
1  
@dremp, keep in mind that having any amplification in the chain set too low will require later amplifiers to have to push harder to make it up. In most circumstances, you should keep the signal at nominal level throughout the signal path. Having said that, unfortunately, it is often difficult to know or measure that... hence my rule of thumb above. –  JoshP Nov 30 '12 at 18:47

I'm not sure I follow your signal-flow description properly, however; generally speaking, no, audio quality does not improve if you reduce the input level.

My guess is your issue is not with your speakers at all but lies elsewhere in the chain, possibly in the amplifier.

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You can see my setup above –  Dremp Nov 30 '12 at 13:56
    
OK, that looks like the issue is at the computer end of the chain. Certainly nothing there to suggest the problem is with the speakers. –  Robert Nov 30 '12 at 14:05
    
I appreciate your help, is there any information or test i could provide you to maybe find an answer? –  Dremp Nov 30 '12 at 14:07

Maybe he crackle sound is due to clipping. I know it happens when I am recording with the microphone I never put the input volume to the max because it will clipping if I talk too loud.

Check this link, it might help you: http://electronicdesign.com/article/analog-and-mixed-signal/simple-additions-to-audio-amplifier-prevent-clippi-16243

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