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Technical question regarding +4 vs -10 on moniotrs

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Technical question regarding +4 vs -10 on moniotrs

Postby Glenn Bucci » Sat Feb 23, 2013 3:38 pm

I noticed my monitors are louder when they are set at the -10 setting compared to the +4 setting. I am aware that professional gear is at +4 and consumer gear at -10. I understand that the clipping point of cheaper analog gear is much lower and many consumer gear can distort before it actually reaches the actual clippoing point. With higher end gear you have a higher clipping point or higher headroom.

My question is am I correct that +4 offer more headroom so with higher end gear will benifit from this? From my understanding this is the reason why +4 is preferred. However if your volume is lower with +4, and you have to crank your volume on your monitoring system higher......at the same volume as -10, is there more headroom. I am sort of thinking out loud as I type this.
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Re: Technical question regarding +4 vs -10 on moniotrs

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:19 pm

It's just a nominal voltage level. I'm not even going to quote the figures, because they won't help. Suffice it to say that there's two standards, a lower one (-10) and a higher one (+4). Well-designed equipment should have plenty of headroom above its nominal level. I suppose you COULD see running a -10 output into a +4 input as "maximising headroom", but it's really just "not sending enough level" :-) Read up on "gain staging".

Neither is "preferred". Professionals might have long cable runs in electrically noisy environments. A higher voltage can theoretically help. But they also routinely use long microphone cables at a much lower level.

You should send any input an appropriate level. End of story.
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Re: Technical question regarding +4 vs -10 on moniotrs

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:43 pm

This is just a sensitivity control, marked in nominal operating levels instead of a rotary knob marked from 1-10... Or whatever.

There is roughly 12dB level difference between nominal +4dBu and -10dBV levels (the latter being the lower level), so if you switch the monitor to the -10 position it will be 12dB more sensitive than in the +4 position... and hence a lot louder.

All analogue equipment is designed with a headroom margin above the nominal level, and in general it will be around 12 to 20dB. Good pro gear might have 20dB of headroom, or maybe a little more. A lot of consumer gear might have only 12dB to 16dB headroom...but some might have more. Regardless, the absolute clipping point voltage of consumer gear with -10dBV nominal level will always be lower than the clipping point of pro gear working with higher nominal level, simply because they have different nominal levels? But it doesn't matter unless you intend to send the output of pro gear into consumer gear without first attenuating it!

As to the headroom question with your monitors, if you connect a nominally -10dBV signal and select the +4 position, you will have 12dB more headroom than the designer intended, and if you connect a +4dBu signal with the -10 setting selected you will have 12dB less headroom than intended. You should select the appropriate sensitivity setting for you system's nominal operating level, and then adjust the level trimmer on the speaker (if present) or the gain structure of the monitor controller to establish a sensible reference monitoring SPL.

H
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Re: Technical question regarding +4 vs -10 on moniotrs

Postby Glenn Bucci » Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:10 pm

Thanks guys, so the important thing is to match your gear with the correct signal strength. I confirmed my new Dangerous D Box is +4, so I will adjust my monitors to +4 to match them.
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Re: Technical question regarding +4 vs -10 on moniotrs

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Feb 23, 2013 5:29 pm

Good plan.
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