What's distortion and how to avoid it
Though in music, distortion can give instruments a character, it is unwelcome in speech, because the audio clarity is significantly degraded. And the human hearing is more susceptible to distortion at higher frequencies than it is to lower ones. So if you are a gamer, voice-over artist or podcaster, instead of musician, it is better to take distortion with caution and manage to get rid of it in your audio.
It is rather easy to understand what’s distortion. Audio signal comes in and out of devices in waveform, distortion is the deviation from the perfect form. As the signal starts to exceed the limitations of the circuitry, it begins to distort.
To avoid distortion, you can not just focus on the converter but have to take care of a few signal that comes in and out of devices. The first place to look at is the output of the audio source. Sending out a healthy level means less gain boost of the signal down the line, thus less distortion.
Next, it is about the input signal. As we mentioned above, if it reaches the limitations of the interface or converter that accepts it, it will not be properly quantized. And that’s where distortion happens. There is a direct way to gauge the signal intensity: using the full scale meter that you can find on OBS or any recording software. And the rule of thumb for a decent level of signal is around -16dB in full scale meter and it does not get over -8dB throughout the whole streaming or recording. In that way, you will leave enough headroom to avoid distortion.
The very last setting that you should not ignore is laying in the playback devices, which have distortion of its own. If the signal that needs playback is too quiet, you have to turn up the volume of the playback devices to bring it to a usable level. That also means boosting the noise of the playback devices as well. But whether we should record a strong signal at the beginning depends. If it is an analog system, the noise is our biggest concern, so remember to record a strong but decent signal. But the noise floor of a digital system is much lower and thus more forgiving. In this case, a too strong signal leads to clipping, therefore it is better to set it to a lower level.
The same theory can be applied to the setting of a FIFINE latest AmpliGame USB microphone. Since you can not control the level of the analog input to the built-in converter, you have to set the intensity of the digital output signal, which is controlled by the dial at the bottom and the input signal to your computer right, which can be adjust through your computer audio system. In a nutshell, the mic will work more comfortably with the knob set below 60% to get a healthy digital output signal, and with full scale meter that monitors the input signal to computer move around -16dB.
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