I have measured the voltage of some files with an oscilloscope, and they max out at 1.2v pk-pk when I set my volume on loudest.

However, how can I make sure that's the maximum voltage that's possible? Would there be any case where it would produce more voltage? I'm going to hook it up with a digital-analog converter, and I don't want to burn it. I guess I could always check the signal with an oscilloscope before I connect it to the DAC, but that would be too much of a hassle...

Also, I read that I should be looking at the RMS voltage because that will determine whether it'll burn it or not. Why is that?

  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be helpful if you told us the manufacturer and model number of the sound card. What do you mean when you say you are connecting it to a DAC? What are you afraid of "burning", the soundcard or the DAC? What are the specifications of the DAC? \$\endgroup\$
    – Joe Hass
    Oct 25, 2013 at 1:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Any normal DAC should have no problems accepting input from a sound card. The voltage range is more or less standardized. Furthermore, you'll probably be using S/PDIF to connect DAC to soundcard and if the soundcard supports S/PDIF it will be capable of providing correct voltage levels. Analog signals you seem to have measured are not used to communicate with a DAC. \$\endgroup\$
    – AndrejaKo
    Oct 25, 2013 at 6:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is a possibility that sam means DAQ (as in data acquisition), something that phonetically sounds a lot like DAC but is actually an ADC. I've seen this confusion a lot of times before on ee.se \$\endgroup\$
    – user36129
    Oct 25, 2013 at 8:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi guys, yes it's a ADC, I'm sorry I got that wrong. I see the analog input range says +-10v, +-5v, +-2v and +-1V, and a gain of 1, 2, 5, 10. \$\endgroup\$
    – sam
    Oct 25, 2013 at 23:02

1 Answer 1


First: DAC or ADC ? DAC makes no senses in your question here.

Second: you could always protect the input of the things you want to plug into your soundcard. Basic over voltage protection is easy achieve with a zener diode and a resistor.

Third: In fact input protection is compulsory here. You are talking about hot plugging something. Which means manipulation of the connectors, connecting things that are not at the same potential during the plugging etc. This is where a ESD discharges from the user or between the components may destroy your device. It's not a problem for the sound card which should be correctly protected otherwise it wouldn't have passed the norms.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, it's a ADC! I see the analog input range says +-10v, +-5v, +-2v and +-1V, and a gain of 1, 2, 5, 10. I'm guessing it's just regulating output to 10v. That shouldn't matter since I'm connecting it to my computer through a usb. However, on the otherhand, I'm sticking bare wires into the ADC from a cut pair of heaphones... -so, I would need to know the max voltage of my soundcard output. \$\endgroup\$
    – sam
    Oct 25, 2013 at 23:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ also, how would you think I could minimize noise through ADC connection? During the actual implementation, I would be recording extremely small pulses, and I would want there to be little to no electromag interference... \$\endgroup\$
    – sam
    Oct 25, 2013 at 23:07

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