When I’m playing music on my computer, in iTunes for example, there are three places I can adjust the volume. I can adjust the volume in iTunes, which affects only that application. I can adjust the systemwide output volume. And finally, I can twiddle the volume knob on my speakers.
How should I adjust these various settings for maximum quality? I assume that, before leaving the computer, all the adjustments are digital, so they shouldn’t affect the quality - but the amplifier on my speakers is obviously analog. So it might make sense to crank up the volume coming out of my computer, so that the signal doesn’t need as much amplification in the speakers. However, it might be the case that my sound card performs poorly at high volumes, and that relying on the high-quality amplifier in my speakers would be better.
I’ve never been able to hear a difference between any of these options, but I’m curious.