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Gain staging, or gain structuring is the act of setting the gain for each amplification stage (gain stage) in a sound system to achieve a target system volume that minimizes noise and distortion. Said another way, proper gain staging gives your sound system the best signal-to-noise ratio. By attempting to reach the loudest peaks possible (without clipping) at each stage, you can obtain an ideal gain structure, but to do this, you need to consider each part of your system and understand the principles involved.
Gain staging is the art of setting the volume for each stage of amplification to minimize noise and distortion. While this is a fundamental concept for live sound and recording, it does apply to custom integration as well. Ideal gain staging ensures your sound system achieves the best signal to noise ratio. The goal is to maximize the volume at each point in the chain without clipping. EG: If you have an iPad, a PA15, and an A2150 amplifier, you have three ways to control the gain. One primary way to start this process is to max the volume on your input device, set the amplifier trim at roughly 50%, and then adjust the PA15, up to approximately 80%, until you have achieved the max-loudness your client requires.
If you're still unable to produce enough dB, then adjust the trim on the amp. Just be aware that when you raise the volume on the amplifier or the PA-15, you are increasing the noise floor, which is the amount of signal noise created by all the equipment. So, we recommend only using your pre-amplifiers and amplifiers up to around 80% of their max volume. And while we are proud of the low signal to noise ration of our amplifiers, this best practice will also help prevent clipping when your client maxes the system input out.