Programming Volume Controls

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2022-01-13 04:00:11

There is a single very annoying thing about lots of audio software products, due to either lack of programmers' knowledge about the human auditory system, laziness, or both. Their volume controls are a pain to work with. If you could ever be involved — even remotely — in the development of a software or hardware product involving sound, please read this text carefully, burn its core message into your memory and spread the news!

A Chinese translation of this page is available. 还提供该网页的中文翻译。

Most audio software nowadays has sliders or even rotating knobs to control the volume. The intention is to mimic controls of ‘classic’ audio hardware. Unfortunately, there is one thing about a lot of software sliders which makes them a pain in the ass: they are LINEAR. You might ask, what could possibly be wrong with a linear slider: it is zero at the one end, 100% at the other end, and neatly linear in between, isn't that just ideal? The answer is a big no.

Give it a try: open your favourite audio player, start playing a song, grab the volume slider, and wobble it to and fro at the ‘loud’ end of the volume range. Next, do the same at the ‘silent’ end. Chances are you will experience the following: almost no audible volume variations at the ‘loud’ end, and extreme volume variations at the ‘silent’ end. In that case you can be pretty sure the slider is linear.

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