MASSIVE Mastering, LLC
Since: Aug 05, 2008
Actually suggesting having *no* headroom...?
Let me answer with a rhetorical question...
Say you're driving a car at a normal speed down the highway. The motor is designed to run up to 9kRPM. At 9kRPM, the motor will blow - It will fail completely (It's a good analogy, as "clipping" is failure of the circuit).
Do you think it would be a good idea to run the motor at 8900RPM and control your speed by how hard you have the brakes on - or simply run the motor where it "needs" to run - where it "wants" to run - where it was designed to run - to hit the speed you're attempting to travel?
THAT said - If your goal is to drive at 70, maybe 75MPH, driving a 200MPH Indy car on the highway is a waste of horsepower.
IMAO, the *worst* way to run a chain is having anything, anywhere, even approaching its failure point.
But the final arbiter of volume at a specific level is the amplifier -- If you're running a 600 watt amplifier on a floor wedge that only needs 200 watts to have a solid signal, you're probably going to have to turn that amp down some - that's just common sense.
Same with hooking up a studio monitoring chain -- You run a nominal signal level (usually -20dB(FS)RMS) through the chain and adjust the amplifiers to give you a signal around 85dBSPL - but with plenty of headroom to get you at least 12dB (200%) over, without getting the chain anywhere near the voltage where it would fail - anywhere.
Feedback? Without question, you're going to get less *distortion* running the chain with a good amount of headroom. Feedback can certainly be skewed by skewing the distortion and spectral balance of the system - but the two aren't "really" connected. You can make a clean-gain signal feed back pretty much as easily as a dirty-gain system.
That said - I'd much rather have a clean-gain system feeding back (because it won't explode). And I'd much rather listen to a system that's running "in the zone" as opposed to one running "on the edge."