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Windows 7: Volume levels and bit depth on Line In

30 Dec 2017   #1

Windows 7 Enterprise x64
Volume levels and bit depth on Line In


I have a few questions regarding volume levels and bit depth settings for Line In within Windows 7. I have a setup as follows:

I have an HDMI cable coming from my home theater room that connects between my PC Monitor and an HDMI Matrix. This allows me to play/watch any of my consoles/STB on my PC monitor.

In order to get sound I'm connecting a 3.5mm M/M cable between my monitor and Line In port on my motherboard and then choosing "Listen to this device" in the recording devices for that Line In port. Then the sound is redirected to my normal sound output I use on my PC which is from USB to a DAC/AMP and finally to my headphones. The reason why I don't run directly to my headphone amp from the monitor is because my amp only has a single input source. In the future I would ideally use a HDMI Extractor and pass the digital audio directly into a DAC bypassing any sort of intermediate ADC and back to DAC conversion.

But back to the questions at hand. I now have FOUR places to control the volume for those devices coming from my home theater:

1) Volume control on the monitor itself affects the volume outputting over the 3.5mm jack
2) Line In Level in Windows Line In Properties also affects the volume
3) Windows volume control itself
4) My headphone amp volume knob

3) and 4) are easy solutions. I have Windows volume always at 100 and control the volume on my amp since I know Windows 7 applies some sort of dynamic compression if it's not 100.

What I want to know is what I should be setting 1) and 2) to. I'm not sure if raising them both to 100% is good or not since they are analog and I thought I remember reading a long time ago that it's never good to have any analog level at max volume. So for the time being I've just set both 1) and 2) to 50%. Good? Bad? Would love an opinion on this matter.

My second question is about what "Default Format" I should be using in the Line In properties. By default it's 16bit/44.1KHz. I'm thinking of switching it to 24bit/96KHz to match what my DAC supports and also what I have set in Windows for my main playback device (the DAC). My line of thinking that this would prevent a further conversion of the audio stream.

Any advice is appreciated,


My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Dec 2017   #2

Windows 10 64 bit

16 bit/44.1Khz is "CD Quality" and what you get from commercial audio CD's. That is also what a standard .wav file (full fidelity audio) is. I Have a recording studio, I record 24 bit/44.1Khz but when I do my final mix down (for whatever audio use) its to the "standard" 16 bit/44.1Khz. I see recording studios that record at higher bitrates, for their internal use, but whey they too create the final audio file (song) it is 16 bit/44.1Khz.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Dec 2017   #3

Windows 7 Enterprise x64

Yeah I realize most music is 16/44.1. I do have a few albums though that are 24/96, and that is what my DAC supports up to, so I use it. The question was if it's Ok to choose 24/96 for the Line In so there is no additional internal conversion in Windows before outputting back to my DAC? I'm going to assume so until someone tells me otherwise lol.

I'm just trying to minimize the amount of processing on the audio signal since there's already a lot going on:

HDMI (coming from home theater room) -> Monitor (performs a DAC on audio stream) -> outputs analog over 3.5mm -> Line In PC (ADC. I choose 24/96) -> Digital Audio out (over USB) to DAC (24/96) -> Amp -> Headphones.

And in the future when I can buy a more expensive DAC/AMP the chain would look something like this:

HDMI -> Extractor -> Digital Audio Out of Toslink/Digital Coax -> Straight into DAC -> Amp -> Headphones

Avoids the additional ADC/DAC conversion from my monitor and PC that I'm sure is losing some audio fidelity doing since I'm sure a computer monitor DAC is pretty garbage and the ADC on the mobo Line In is probably not all that great either.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

01 Jan 2018   #4

Windows 7 Professional 64 bit

Hello Wallboy, Happy New Year !

Yes, I have a similar issue and query.

My set up is self build media centre and just installed Sound Blaster ZXR card to enhance audio quality and give me loads of quality outputs, so Phono connected to my little Dot mkII Headphone amp into the loop.

I am a bit of an audiophile so sound is important but have no experience apart from producing everything in FLAC format, my problem is also having to set Computer sound level to 90% so that the amp gives acceptable volume at 75% but I want my old HiFi days back where the sound levels can be cranked right up if I want or at least have loads in reserve so not working my hardware too hard.

My issue is sound level, should I be reprocessing the files to produce higher level or will this loose quality.

Sorry if bumping your post but looking forward to you getting some form of an answer, as you sound far more advanced than I am with this type of thing I'm totally unable to help you I'm afraid apart from sharing my experiences building everything.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Volume levels and bit depth on Line In

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