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How do you know the correct PC headphone OUT level to use?

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Brian Jojade:

--- Quote from: Geert Friedhof on March 05, 2021, 11:18:07 am ---You should use an USB interface. Sounds much better. Preferably with balanced outputs.

--- End quote ---

How do you know his machine doesn't have fine audio out capabilities?  Many computers today have perfectly acceptable audio out.  Balanced connections do NOT make a difference in sound quality. They help for noise rejection from external sources, but for short interconnects often are not necessary.

As far as matching the levels from your computer to your mixer, what the other guys said before is generally all you need to do.  Turn on the source, starting at max volume.  Adjust gain on mixer until level is appropriate for your mixer, and you're pretty much done.

Now, in some devices, you may find that running at full tilt output you'll have higher than desirable distortion levels.  Turning the volume down and increasing the gain on the mixer can help.  The last time I ran into that issue was early gen iPods. Newer stuff is so much better in this regard.

If you really wanted to get technical about it, you could measure the voltage coming out of your headphone jack to 'calibrate' everything to be a nice even level, but it's not really necessary.  Most current equipment can comfortable handle signals up to +18dBu which is a little over 6 volts RMS. Headphone outputs generally will max out at around +10dBu, or about 2 volts, so even at wide open you'll be well below the input capability of the mixer.

When working with audio signals, all you need to do is make sure you're within the happy range where you're not distorting anything and you're hot enough that the noise floor is overcome.  That range is SO much greater today than in day's past that it's less necessary to be dead on accurate with levels at all stages of the game.

Mike Caldwell:
With a computer you may need some form of isolation between the computer and
the sound system your connection to.
A usb interface or a simple DI on the head phone output.
If the computer is connected to a video system the chances of need some isolation
is even greater.

Remember don't use a straight through TRS cable from the headphone jack to a line input on the mixer.
Get one that breaks out the 3.5 TRS into two lines.

Luke Geis:
I typically turn the computer's volume all the way up and then click it down two or three taps. I find it is usually best around 70-80% of full volume. Sometimes at full volume, there can be distortion. I find this more prevalent with Mac's, but PC's have done it as well.

Mike Henderson:

--- Quote from: Luke Geis on March 08, 2021, 10:01:39 pm ---I typically turn the computer's volume all the way up and then click it down two or three taps. I find it is usually best around 70-80% of full volume. Sometimes at full volume, there can be distortion. I find this more prevalent with Mac's, but PC's have done it as well.

--- End quote ---

Thanks guys, sorry for the late response, the email notifs from this board does not work for whatever reason.

Yeah Luke that is pretty much what I have always done. I use a quality 3.5mm Y cable.

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