Volume Leveling Degradation

This question may have been addressed multiple times previously but a search provided no specific answer. I use Volume Leveling when playing playlists with multiple sources - there can be a vast difference in “loudness” of each song by many dB. The Volume Leveling works well in reducing volume of all songs to similar levels instead of constantly adjusting amplifier volume. My question is how “destructive” is volume leveling - from audiophiles out there have you noticed any degradation in sound quality of any specific song other than reduced volume?
Equipment: 2019 MacBook Pro i9 8 core, Nad Masters M12 Preamp, Nad Masters M22 V2 Power Amp and Focal Aria 948 speakers AudioQuest cables, Preamp connected by Ethernet cable

Ask people on the internet for an opinion :blush:
My mystic powers predict…
Seriously though roon do upsample to 64 bit to enhance the calculation space as I understand it and to try to avoid artifacts.

And… if your playback equipment support 24bit from Roon and your original music file is 16bit, Roon converts to a bit-depth of 64bit, does the volume change and converts back to a bit-depth of 24bit to pass on to your DAC so… mathematically… there are no ‘rounding errors’ with this path, so… if the majority of your music is 16bit and your playback equipment (DAC) supports 24bit… you should be in a good place. :slightly_smiling_face:

With a 24bit source, however… some rounding may be introduced…

Have a listen… can you hear degradation? If so… you can turn it off. :+1:

2 Likes

A much better explanation.

1 Like

I’d say that how your DAC handles a signal below full digital scale (0dBFS) is the relevant thing here. The operation to make something quieter is mathematically trivial and as long as you use enough precision and dither where applicable, it should be transparent digitally. However, many DACs don’t operate quite as well with quieter signals.

2 Likes

So… does that mean that these DACs aren’t so good with dynamic music then… because the quieter passages are not handled as well as a DAC that does operate well with quieter signals?

Am I not right in thinking a 24bit DAC should sound just as good 10-20dB below full scale? I can understand how a 16bit DAC would suffer at that level…

Edit… but Roon usually only reduces the level of non-dynamic tracks by about 6-10dB, the dynamic ones are more or less left alone…

I would say use your ears. It’s easy to turn on and off. If it doesn’t sound different to you then get on with life and enjoy the music!

Thanks all. I can’t hear much difference so not going to worry about it. As I use an XLR connection from DAC/Preamp to power amp that has quite high gain, turning leveling on doesn’t result in the music being too quiet even though leveling turns volume down. As I cannot hear any discernible degradation won’t worry about it. Just wondered what others thought or have experienced.