Increasing digital volume to recover Bits

We see it quite often that where there is a mix-up of actual, objective dynamic range (that is the difference between a digital maximum level signal and silence) and subjective perception of dynamics.

In many modern DAC/headphone amplifier combinations (and the CODEC Chips build into smartphones, DAP’s and similar devices) the volume control usually happens in the digital domain, before the DAC chip and headphone amplifier.

In this case, each 6dB attenuation in effect lose 1 Bit of resolution and dynamic range. With an attenuation value of 12dB (High Sensitivity) 2 Bits of resolution & dynamic range are restored. With an attenuation value of 24dB (Ultra Sensitivity) 4 Bits of resolution & dynamic range are restored.

This is objective dynamic range, as both signal and noise are equally reduced with the signal then being boosted back by reducing the attenuating in the digital domain, ahead of the DAC.

The iEMatch by allowing users to increase the digital volume means the recovery of such Bits.

Further reading:

Now subjective impressions of something sounding “dynamic” are often the result from excessive compression, the polar opposite of “good dynamic range”. Recordings that have good dynamic range rarely sound punchy and “dynamic”, except in the loudest passages.

For example, try “Jazz Variants” by O-Zone percussion group, this recording has an excellent dynamic range (it holds a DR rating of 16 out of a maximum 20 in the dynamic range database), it does not sound particularly punchy, except when the percussion is hit hard.

There are parallels with high-quality TV. A correctly calibrated picture with correct contrast (and high contrast at dark levels) and brightness (and colour) are generally not obviously impressive, the way the “demo mode” on most TV’s is. However, it is a more true representation.

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