What do volume numbers mean on the audio settings?


Like, my speakers go from 0 – 100. But 0-100 whats? Decibels? Or is this like a percentage of the speaker’s maximum volume? But it can’t be that because even if I turn it to 100, I can still turn the youtube slider up and make it play even louder. So what are these units?

Also, what determines the maximum? Can I just push it beyond that using some sort of coding thing?

In: Technology

It will just be a percentage of maximum volume allowed by the driver, you can drive speakers at higher than that volume but it might cause damage to them.

In a very general sense, they are kind of reference numbers. (unless the mfr makes some specific claim in their technical specs). The idea is to indicate the range from low to high with the numbers not really being tied to anything physical.

The reasons might be complicated. First, perceived “loudness” is non-linear, it is logarithmic with respect to power. Second, there are many elements in the chain, as you noted. Speakers can be connected from a source, amplification, equalization etc each of which can modify the signal strength. Since each setup is unique, the numbers eventually have no absolute reference to the loudness produced ie there is no “unit”.

What determines the maximum? There are eventually physical limits; too much power means high current which will burn out wires or the movement of the coil in the speaker damages the diaphragm. No matter what is done to the signal, it has to be amplified at some point and in most cases that is where the limits are – amplifiers don’t have infinite power.

But well before that point, the sound produced is no longer “musical”. The purpose of a speaker is usually to reproduce a signal faithfully as sound. A common measure of this is “distortion or total harmonic distortion”. Once you start pushing the limits, the sound produced no longer resembles the “intent” of the signal at which point you might as well term it as “noise”.

The scale used is arbitrary. They don’t represent decibels or power output, it’s just something you can use to determine what level of volume you are at and see if you want to go higher or lower.

The only limit to how high you can go is whenever your speakers fail. You can output enough power through them that you blow them.

Manufacturers try to keep the maximum at a level that you can actually make out the song you are listening to and far below noise levels that might blow the speaker.

It is a percentage of the full possible power.

What you seem to be confused by is when there is more than one place to adjust volume (ie on the speakers, and in you tube). Volume settings multiply. So if my volume on the speaker is set to 50%, and in YouTube it is also set to 50%, I get 25% of full volume because .5 x .5 = .25.

That’s why if you turn up the speaker to 100%, and the YouTube dial is still at 50%,you can get even louder when you turn up YouTube. Because 1 x 50% = 50% – you can still double the volume.