# How does volume work on computers? How does my computer bring the volume up or down?

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How does volume work on computers? How does my computer bring the volume up or down?

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Speakers make sound by making the surface of the speaker vibrate and send those vibrations through the air. There is a magnet on the back of the speaker surface that moves back and forth when an electrical current passes through a wire coiled around it. When you turn up the volume, your PC makes those vibrations stronger than they would be otherwise

The speaker is a surface attached to something that moves it back and forth, roughly along a line. The computer is controlling the surface’s position along the line. The pitch of the sound is determined by the frequency that the surface moves back and forth. The loudness is determined by the distance that it moves along the line.

I’m not certain, but it’s probably a voltage that determines the speaker’s position. To increase the loudness, the computer will multiply each voltage of the signal by a number larger than one.

eli5: You have a drum. You tap it very lightly and it makes a small sound. You bang on it with all your might and it makes a very very loud sound.

Energy that you input into the sound making directly effects the volume of the sound coming out. Speaker volume is effected by controlling the energy going into the speaker. It’s the same way a dimmer switch on a light bulb works: lower energy, dimmer light. Higher energy, brighter light. Speakers are the same way.

Assuming you know how speakers work.

The volume adjustment works by varying how much voltage is applied to the speakers.

A computer natively uses something called an ”absolute” volume scale, where the volume slider/indicator is meaningless and decided by whoever designed it. Some systems/devices use a “relative” volume scale, where the volume changes are described in loudness (decibels).

Sound is vibrating air, a speaker works by vibrating a membrane. The quicker it vibrates the higher pitch the sound will be, and the further it moves when it vibrates the louder it will be. More voltage to the speaker does some fancy magnet stuff to make the membrane move further making the sound louder.