The Basics of Audio Distortion

Distortion is any deviation that mimics an audio waveform between two points in a single path. Unwanted distortion is usually caused by an extremely strong signal. When an audio signal level is too high, it loses some of its essential components. When this happens, a distorted sound is created. A distortion is a form of audio signal processing that is used to modify the sound of amplified electrical musical instruments. This process occurs by increasing their gain until a growling or gritty tone is achieved.

Sometimes speakers can sound distorted, but, since distortion is an audible detection of signal clipping, distortion does not cause speaker damage. It’s worth mentioning that clipping occurs when an audio component is no longer able to offer enough power supply voltage to clearly amplify a specific audio signal. Clipping can happen at any point within the signal chain.

Sometimes creating distortion is desired. In this case, the user should turn the gain and overdrive knobs up while turning the volume knobs down. When this happens, the desired loudness is achieved. Musicians use distortion to add emotion, feeling, and strength to a mix.

Speakers tend to distort at higher volumes since the amp needs a power level that is not always achievable. Low-quality speakers can be easily damaged at high volumes. When the volume increases, the heat inside the speaker rises. If the speaker components are poor quality, heat damage might occur, leading to sound distortion. It’s worth mentioning that, as the volume level rises, the damage becomes more evident.

In order to prevent sound distortion, it is essential no choose high-quality speakers. It is also important to choose an amp that offers sufficient power for a particular sound system. The key to high-quality sounds is a combination of high-quality speakers with an accurate amplifier.