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Discussion Starter #1
So for a LONG time, I've been running my RF Power 1000 25 to Life amp, with the fancy LED clip indicators right on the front of the amp, and these have been SO useful. I could always turn around and with a glance over my right shoulder, see right where my output was... Probably why I never fried the amp, or blew speakers.
Well, I sure got spoiled with that feature. But I figured that even when I retired that amp someday, "every amp" should have, at the very least, one tiny red LED light somewhere on it, that flickered as it started to clip ? Guess I was wrong :( I just bought this amp SKv2-100.4AB | 800 Watt 4-Channel Car Amplifier
and apparently, that LED light that says protect, is only an on/off type of light, that will literally come on, when the amp shuts off, from a direct short or something really bad. No slight flickering to show that your just starting to clip.... so that is basically worthless :(
The only reason I bought the amp in spite of this, was that I figured an aftermarket clipping indicator should be really cheap and easy to add. Wrong :( I've searched high and low, and the closest thing I have found, are the SMD clipping meters, which 1) are way bigger, brighter, and fancier than I need, and 2) are way too expensive. What would be awesome would be a tiny little box with a single red led that starts to ficker as the amp starts to clip. Seems so easy for an amp company to build into the amp... or, at the very least, put it on a cheap cable to bring it to the front of the vehicle, and charge $20 for it.

I swear I'm fixing to return the amp just because of this :(

Any suggestions ?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
If the gains are set correctly you wouldn’t have to worry about clipping anything.
Theoretically, yes, that is true. The problem I have with this, is the major differences in recordings. I play stuff that is WAY loud enough, and starting to clip at 28 on my volume knob, and then, the next song might need to be pushed to 34 (out of 35) which kind of sucks, as my head unit is only 100% clean, to 32. In a perfect world, everything I played, would be right below clipping at 32 on my volume control. But that's rarely the case.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Wouldn't I need to set my gains slightly higher, so that I could have enough output from the HU, without having to go over 32 ?

Edit: Okay, I get what your saying.... Set my gains, with my HU at a slightly lower volume :)

Still, I sure wish all amp manufacturers would include a simple clip indicator...
 

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A little clipping isn't going to cause any problems, it won't be audible, and won't hurt your equipment. Heavy clipping is a problem, but you should be able to hear the distortion when it's bad enough to cause problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
A little clipping isn't going to cause any problems, it won't be audible, and won't hurt your equipment. Heavy clipping is a problem, but you should be able to hear the distortion when it's bad enough to cause problems.
For the most part, I think your right. I just know from the experience I had with my Power 1000 25 to Life amp (with the fancy LED clip indicator) that their were times when it was way loud enough, and zero clipping (usually parked) but then Id be much more likely to try to overdrive it, when driving it on the freeway, with the windows down, as not only would it obviously not sound as loud, but distortion was harder to detect. None the less, I could visually check my clipping levels to keep it in check.
I just feel like I'm going to be SO much more likely to damage stuff, without having a clipping indicator.
 

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Do you frequenty adjust your gains? For the most part, gains are a set it and forget it thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Do you frequenty adjust your gains? For the most part, gains are a set it and forget it thing.
Pretty much a one time thing, unless I change the setup, like I'm in the process of doing now. Like I say, I know my HU is 100% clean to 32 out of 35, so I like my gains set to where my amp(s) are at the max output, right at 32. Again though, I have some recording that 34 is almost not enough.... and others which max out the amp(s) at 29 or 30. I've been tempted to actually turn my gains up a touch higher, so that quieter stuff is maxed out at 32 (so I'm never tempted to introduce any distortion from the HU) and louder stuff only needs to be turned to 26...
But then with a new 4 ch amp going in soon, I figure, why bother with the amp that's in there now ?
 

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It is actually a good question.

One could make a sample and hold and have a compator circuit that is set to a volt or three below the rail-voltage, and then light an LED when one is beyond the comparitor set point.


 

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You need to buy an oscilloscope. There are cheap amateur style ones on ebay for 62 bucks

2in1 Upgraded MUSTOOL MT8206 Intelligent Digital Oscilloscope Multimeter A/DC US

Then you can test the max volume of your head unit before clipping. Also use it to set you amp gains.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
You need to buy an oscilloscope. There are cheap amateur style ones on ebay for 62 bucks

2in1 Upgraded MUSTOOL MT8206 Intelligent Digital Oscilloscope Multimeter A/DC US

Then you can test the max volume of your head unit before clipping. Also use it to set you amp gains.
But here's the thing....
I already know my HU plays clean to 32 (out of 35)
Sure, I could use an oscilloscope (or a DD-1) to set the gains on the amp(s)
But this still would not let me know after the fact, if I was clipping the amp on a particular song, or part of a song.
I understand that your gains should be set properly, but it's still possible to clip your amps after having all your gains set correctly.
IF you have everything set up in a way that makes it impossible to clip it, then your also going to have music which you can't play loud enough, even if you max out the volume controls.... Well actually, with my setup anyway, I would get some distortion from my HU (between 32-35) but still maybe not get max loud with certain songs which are not recorded as loud.
 

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A Head unit-amp combination will only play so loud. If you set the gains on the amp to reflect its rated RMS power at you max unclipped head unit volume using a -5db test tone, (ex. 75 watts per channel reflects 17.32 volts) then your music, no matter what type, should not distort. If you have to turn your head unit up past that unclipped point (you say 32) then you need a more powerful (or better quality) amp. If you are using multiple amps in a system, then the voltage setting is for reference as a starting point. After setting them this way, you have to listen to the system, and lower certain gains appropriately to achieve the sound you want.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Ribrown, I hear what your saying....
But there are not strong enough amps or speakers, nor enough room in my truck, that I would not occasionally want to push the system up to the maximum output (clipping point) at least for demo's and such.

It is not impossible to set your gains to where everything is maxed out at the same time, with all different sources of music, some recorded much louder than others.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That is why i normalize my music (uncompressed ripped) on my iPhone.
Same loudness for every track.
Yes, I think that would be good for all the music on your phone. But I find that the music I play from my phone via bluetooth, is not as loud as most of the music I have on USB flash drives. Do you, or anybody no if its possible to "normalize" music from different sources ?
 

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Do you, or anybody no if its possible to "normalize" music from different sources ?
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Source level adjuster OR SLA as shown on most Pioneer head unit menu screens under the function menu.

Source level adjustments allows you to adjust the level of each input audio source.

You can, for example, increase the level of the CD player so that at volume 30 (for example) it will be louder than the tuner at volume 30. Same for the auxiliary inputs.

So say your CD is matched perfect. You would set the source level adjustment to zero . If it's too " hot " you would set it to negative 1,2,3. you can also set it up to three notches higher or positive 1 2 3 from zero on my X6700BS head unit.

SLA will either boost or reduce the different loudness gain levels from the different source inputs. Gain matching so to speak. it is the digital equivalent to a line output converter when matching the game required for your amplifiers from your head unit. Except in this case we're doing it in reverse where we are taking the inputs from the sources such as Bluetooth USB SD card and CD and matching them to an FM reference which is what Pioneer uses.

pioneer as an option on their decks also offer something called auto level control.
 

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It is actually a good question.

One could make a sample and hold and have a compator circuit that is set to a volt or three below the rail-voltage, and then light an LED when one is beyond the comparitor set point.


spot save for later future post as I research a proper kit and implementation.
UPDATE


FIrst things First.

Now. Lets begin to talk about WHY this is so cool.

You can Self Silkscreen a board right now at home. Use software like this to get it done:

Order the parts on Mouser, Digikey, etc.

Solder up the board. But... HERE is the magnificent part. YOU can make this do not only one amp and one channel, but build it with an Arduino Micro.
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Cost? About 4 McChickens.

Now, the parts needed to build the board to accommodate 4 channels?
Maybe 10 McChickens.

Now you can run wires to the Front dash, and mount the LED's on any Spare or Blank plastic panel like so.

Or... Wirelessly, to your android head unit with this bellow.
7 McChickens.

Now it only gets better. Say you want to do a CUSTOM Old Skool Set up. You got yoru single DIN head unit. Or one of those that Flip out. Etc.
You have this underneath it.
25 McChickens.
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Those LED's can change color from SOFT clip to Hard clip as more voltage is applied.
Red LEDs need about 2v to light a bit. Green and white take about 3-5v. So you would have a FAST All Analog Clip Indicator that will tell you Soft clip to hard clipping.

You also have fan control, but let's talk about why this is so cool. You have an Arduino. You can run that panel from it. That means that it can Display Real time Power output with just a little addition to this circuit. The wires would be trivial to run. And they would all be small since the main box would be by the amps. BUT.. Say you want to go wireless?

That is where you would use the Arduino with Bluetooth. You could place these mini units with the single channel, per amp so you would have 1/2/4 inputs from the amplifier, and it would all report up front to your dash.

What gets Better? This would work for Pro AUDIO! So the guy doing the mixing up front, can monitor the Amps like a DJ, etc. Most pro gear already has a Clipping indicator built in.
Some of these units work over wifi, so the range is MUCH better. But other units just use ethernet/USB 3.0. So that takes care of Power and Data and Line runs over 500 Feet. You are not pushing that much DATA, so it would be nothing for even longer cable runs.

The REALLY cool part? You can make the Arduino be an Auto attenuator. So as soon as it senses the AMP is clipping. It will lower the input signal automatically if programed.

I don't think you get what I am thinking. But THIS would work for ANY AMP. ANY installation. Car, boat, House. Stadium. Etc.

And you can do it ALL with just a tablet. ANY cheap TABLET with either WIFI or Bluetooth.
If going that option? You could make the modules all for less than 1 McCHICKEN! EACH!

It would even work with SMD gauges! Heck any display really.



So what Holmz and simpletronic did here is show us how to make a TRULY UNIVERSAL Clip indicator that would work on ANY amp and be used for ANY output device

It can even be used for other applications. Such as Amp Rail Power etc with few modifications to the circuit with some very simple parts additions to the circuit.
Wow!

Imagine someone like Pioneer making a turn key system you can just drop in a car, and it would all be set up. No gains to mess with. Nothing. Just Its ready to go. no worries about cliping. Just Plug and play. No RCA wires to even run really. It could ALL be digital.

And best part? It's all open source. Uses already established standards. And can be as cheap as pennis to build yourself.


Now think about just doing this for most common systems we have. You could go as simple as just some LED indicators, or as amazing as modding the unit above. All it would be is a simple plug in to the Arduino board and loading some Microcode to the Arduino.

They already make Prefab Panels like this.
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It would just say AMP 1, 2, 3, or channels or Front rear or Mid-Range Subwoofer etc.

Now they also make these OLED micro switches or buttons. They are like the LCD Keyboards you see. You would have FULL control over not only what is going on and readouts. But also can turn on items like fans etc or just the amp. But it would tell you anything you wanted to see. Power usage, consumption, VOltage at the amp. AND if the AMP is CLIPPING Etc.
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What a COOL DAY we live in.
 
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