Understanding leveling, dynamic range and Headroom Management for DSP

I have a pretty aggressive low shelf EQ filter setup for my speakers. They are open-baffle speakers so need a strong boost at the low end to compensate for bass drop off. Luckily my speakers can take a lot of EQ without problems.

For most material, like Jazz, Vocals, Rock etc my EQ works great. But with material that has an already boosted bass, like remixed dance music I am running into serious clipping issues.

I have been using Headroom Management when I run into this issue. I am thinking of making a few DSP presets that adjust this down for that music. I’m looking at volume leveling that is available in Zones, but I am concerned that this will essentially act as compression on all my music. Is there a way to apply leveling that will preserve the dynamics of the recordings? My library has been analyzed, but I use Tidal too (which is where most of my dance remixes are with the extra bass).

Will I have compression issues using it Volume Leveling? And Does the Volume Leveling use the same quality of 64 bit DSP that is in the DSP section?

I guess the ultimate solution is an automatic way to prevent clipping without losing dynamic range.

I recently switched from fixed headroom management (-9 dB to also compensate EQ) to volume levelling. With excellent results.
It uses the same algorithm, I notice zero compression (like headroom management it is not compressing). Give it a try - and set Headroom to 0 but activate clipping indicator to monitor and fine tune.
Volume levelling is awesome!


Forget to mention: is sometimes even boosts songs up - I noticed +/- 30 dB overall. No loss of dynamics. Just a more relaxed listening experience. Give it a try.

Which type of leveling do you find the best for this scenario?

I find volume levelling compromises SQ. I know it shouldn’t, but in my system it does.

I need to listen more, and this is tough, because you can’t actually accurately match levels for listening tests. However, on my initial comparisons, when Volume Leveling is on, there is a small loss of transparency, and a bit more grain in the midrange/treble. But I really need to do more listening.

I use volume levelling (by track, as I use playlists a lot) now in my two main zones. The settings differ, as they reflect the former amount of headroom adjustment: Zone 1 was -9dB (DSP active with convolution filter) and Zone 2 -3dB (no DSP, just to avoid clipping of to loud material).

I understand that having no volume levelling at all is ideal. Still, all my tests lead me to these conclusions:

  • Digital clipping is worse than volume levelling

  • If I use the convolution filter I need to adjust volume

  • The convolution filter leads to a much improved SQ

  • If I do headroom management there is (looking at the math) no difference in SQ to using volume levelling

  • Volume levelling creates a much better listening experience (for me, in my Roon usage patterns) than fixed headroom management.