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Thread: pavucontrol: "This one goes to 11?"

  1. #1
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    pavucontrol: "This one goes to 11?"

    Greetings.

    Have a quick question for the community; one which has eluded my efforts to find any sort of answer so far.

    Here goes:

    Can someone explain the deal with the "153%" volume control level which is ostensibly furnished via pavucontrol?

    Unless I'm missing something here, this seems to be an absolute fallacy limited by physical hardware. If not, then it seems as though we're playing around with the dangerous possibility of front-end overload for connected equipment; and megabuck damage beyond mere clipping at the top levels.

    So, what's the scoop? Does pavucontrol really dig into areas of firmware which shouldn't be messed with at the hardware level, pushing things to well beyond manufacturer's specifications; or is it just another odd example of "This one goes to 11 (or 15.3, in this case ;o)?"

    "Enquiring minds want to know..."


    Thanks a bunch; and have a great day

  2. #2
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    Re: pavucontrol: "This one goes to 11?"

    Having come back from a 55,000 square foot venue with 90,000 watts, I can safely say that is how it is designed. It doesn't go to 11, it goes to 11 deciBels which is ~153% on a linear scale. In professional audio equipment it is quite common for Master Faders to go to +10dB. You set the house level sound at 0dB for input gains and the output might be 95dB which is loud and at a level that will cause hearing damage for prolonged periods (4-8 hrs). +10dB allows you to push the system to 105dB which is really loud. Jet engines are 140dB and most rock concerts come in at 110 to 120dB which is why your ears ring after a concert.

    So don't worry about it. But yes, you can blow your equipment if you are not careful or you do not know what you are doing. How the soundchips in your laptop distort and what level is for you to figure out. But if you have a professional sound card hooked up to it, it should handle +10dB without a problem.
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  3. #3
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    Re: pavucontrol: "This one goes to 11?"

    The capability is helpful when hardware/drivers don't behave correctly.

  4. #4
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    Re: pavucontrol: "This one goes to 11?"

    Thanks for the input, folks. Interesting insights . . .

    My concern really surrounds the Totally Clueless End User (TCEU), aka grandma, who might bumble into the pavucontrol UI while watching 700 Club rebroadcasts on her snazzy HP or Dell. Having a low battery in her hearing aid, she cranks things up to 11 and leaves it there; thinking the distorted sound is just Pat Robertson talking about pot laws again.

    Now, if she could wind up toasting anything on her dandy shrink-wrapped system, it would seem irresponsible of the pavucontrol team to allow this feature to be accessible (without clear warning) by TCEUs; as there is no telling who might do what with their distros in our big bad world.

    Reasonably, my guess is this isn't the case, and all is well for the Ubuntu grannies out there. If not, we've got a feature here which is waay too sharp to allow unfettered access by default; and should have some basic safeguards in place.

    Don't know if anyone can address this; but it would sure be appreciated for those of us who work with the TCEUs of the world


    Thanks again; and have a great day --

  5. #5
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    Re: pavucontrol: "This one goes to 11?"

    pavucontrol is not installed by default. You have to go through a few steps to install it. Chances are, your grandma will use the multimedia buttons on the laptop itself. She will complain that it is not loud enough for 700 Club reruns. A shrink-wrapped laptop is designed to be tossed when it breaks.

    The venue I was in had several slim PC's behind 70" touch-screen displays. They need 3" of air clearance and they have 0" so they shut down due to thermal overload. The sound chips have fried so no more video conferencing on these $8,000 displays. High tech meets low tech.
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  6. #6
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    Re: pavucontrol: "This one goes to 11?"

    "High tech meets low tech."

    I can relate. Some of those slim babies bit it with 3 feet of airspace @ comfortable RT courtesy of Vista. An elderly in-law's son (globetrotting M$ exec) dumped the demise of her "Vistafied" mobo on me after I installed FOSS on the system as a favor. Who needs enemies...

    All fun aside, and FWIW, pavucontrol IS installed as the default on Xubuntu 12.04; the very distro which I call home. Gotta deal with it, however; as it's the fav over here for other reasons.

    On that note, anyone know how to set the upper volume limit to 100% with PA? Willing to dig in if there's a way

    Curiouser and curiouser . . .


    Thanks a bunch --

  7. #7
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    Re: pavucontrol: "This one goes to 11?"

    If you're really concerned about it, I wouldn't use pavucontrol. Binding keys to volume scripts seems like a better way to go.

  8. #8
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    Re: pavucontrol: "This one goes to 11?"

    pavucontrol is not installed on Linux Mint Mate 14 (based on 12.10), I don't know what other distros that have it installed by default. You can download the source code and change it then recompile it. It would take 1 to 2 hours of your time and it's a good learning experience.

    If you decide to modify it, enable source code in your software repositories then download it directly through the software repositories.
    Last edited by tgalati4; August 24th, 2013 at 02:32 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Re: pavucontrol: "This one goes to 11?"

    Thanks for the tip, Temüjin. Might be a bit of a neanderthal, but I'd rather work with what we've got rather than cut the applet completely out. Hey, there's good stuff in there!

    However, if it's a matter of having to completely overhaul the app from source, I might be inclined in a direction like this soon enough

    Which brings me to another carriage return. Is there nothing in the way of a simple "volume limit" config mod for this problem? I mean, really, everyone knows that a pocket knife needs to fold away when you don't want to cut anything; and this baby seems to be real sharp as served out to the 'buntu masses...

    Any devs out there with some savvy to share???

    Just wondering --


    Thanks again

  10. #10
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    Re: pavucontrol: "This one goes to 11?"

    pulseaudio is an audio framework that was added to allow each application to control its own sound level, allow audio streams to be sent elsewhere, and some unique mixing capability. ALSA was the previous audio framework and it still works and has a lot of capability which may do what you want. pulseaudio was buggy when it first came out, and eliminated (or hid) a lot of capability that ALSA users expected. Not unlike when Unity first came out. Here's a rant that helps explain the situation. http://wiki.marklesh.com/How-to/Asoundconf

    Perhaps an ALSA configuration will provide such limits. I don't know how to do it within pulseaudio, without modifying pavucontrol because "there are no user-serviceable parts inside."
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