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Old 11th September 2009, 11:31 AM   #1
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Default Psychology and volume control position

OK, we all know that the best signal to noise ratio is achieved generally at full volume. We also know that if we set our power amp gain to match the preamp plus a bit, our gear is safe from 'little fingers'. Why is it then, that 9pm-11:30pm (on the clock face) is where we like to run our gear for serious listening? Everything is worse at that point; pot tracking, impedance issues, frequency response fluctuations and noise. It is better to drop the level of our CD player or power amp to give us the full 270 (degree of rotation) but it just feels 'wrong' although it is actually technically 'right'.
Listening in the dark when I can't see the volume knob position, everything is better, even though I am in the last 90 degrees as opposed to the first 90 degrees.
I have grown up and matured in the CD era when 2v into a 150mV input meant the amp hit full power at 10pm on the clock face, about 80 degrees into a 270 degree log pot and arguably the worst point.
What do you guys think, I am going to start a movement...'the full 270 degrees'?
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Old 11th September 2009, 11:41 AM   #2
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Hi John, you should check out the B1 buffer thread is in the pass labs forum, I think it will be right up your alley Planning on building one myself. Exactly the philosophy you are proposing (well not exactly but similar)

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Last edited by wintermute; 11th September 2009 at 11:46 AM. Reason: added link to Nelson's article
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Old 11th September 2009, 01:39 PM   #3
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Default We use to adjust our amplifier sensitivity (home made) to accept a signal level

plugged into the input that results in clipping when the volume control knob is around 75 percent.

Why we use to do that?

We love to show our powerfull amplifier pumping high power while the volume knob is at mid day position..or 12 hours.

- "And we use to say...and i have i am using only 50 percent!"

Big childrens we are!.... if you are not i can guarantee that i am!


Also.... having that range you can control some audio sources that are not so loud..some recordings are less loud than others..then you gonna have some range to increase.

Also 8 hours morning is time to get up or to travel to your hours is some natural position that seems (start of something... start of a working day)...and exactly in that position we use to have from 2 to 5 watts....and this is the normal, natural level almost 70 percent of folks use.

I was observing that stuff some monthes ago....i found interesting visiting folks i have observed that in many.... they adjust their amplifier sensitivity this way.

Young guys use almost full volume...those are exceptions... an hidraulical hammer sounds good for them.

Some others do not want distortion and adjust the full volume to the threshold of clipping.


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Old 11th September 2009, 03:34 PM   #4
sangram is online now sangram  India
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watch i am using only 50 percent!
Pretty much sums up the sentiment of most 'hi-fi' users.

On another forum I frequent, it's very irritating to hear people whining about how they have to turn the volume past 12 o'clock, and that such a condition implies an amplifier with low power/drive. Over there (it's a hi-fi forum, so think commercial speakers at 86dB/W, which get overdriven by 30 watts of real power) posters would be happier to see volume controls not turned past 11 o'clock.

What they don't really understand is that beyond that level, the amp would go into clipping anyway, and the fact that they are wasting the total system gain as a result...

I prefer going direct - no attenuator, just the DAC output into the power amp. With a good 32 bit system the loss of resolution is not extremely noticeable when using volume control digitally (PC source).
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Old 11th September 2009, 03:36 PM   #5
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By restorer john -I have grown up and matured in the CD era when 2v into a 150mV input meant the amp hit full power at 10pm on the clock face, about 80 degrees into a 270 degree log pot and arguably the worst point.
What is a volume knob ??? This is the digital age. On the newer soundcards (CMI-xxx - turtle beach/ auzentech), we still have the 2v output , but with user controlled limiting (compression) . When you set it , it will compress the peaks (you can also switch it off) , at a lower volume ... no compression.

This has saved my speakers many times from over eager kids or just plain stupidity. When you use a amp that can easily overwhelm any normal speaker , these peaks will "bottom out" a bass driver easily. I know better speakers would be a more permanent answer , but the ability to limit your P-P from 1.2 - 2v will save the lesser drivers. On commercial amps the analogy is just to have input attenuators ,turn your preamp " knob" 270 degrees + and set below clip.

To be a "big kid" .. ,as carlos put it , I just turn the limiter off and bottom them woofers out ( around 1.6v).

no attenuator, just the DAC output into the power amp.
Yeahhhh !!! no wires .. no hum / ground loops

Last edited by ostripper; 11th September 2009 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 11th September 2009, 03:53 PM   #6
Bigun is offline Bigun  Canada
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Originally Posted by destroyer X View Post
- "And we use to say...and i have i am using only 50 percent!"
You hit this one dead centre

and it's just the same with other things in life, like cars. How many people need a car with an engine larger than 2 litres but drive cars with huge engines
"The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed." Robert M Pirsig.
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Old 11th September 2009, 04:21 PM   #7
Glowbug is offline Glowbug  United States
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Yeahhhh !!! no wires .. no hum / ground loops
No hearing after a while, either
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Old 11th September 2009, 04:42 PM   #8
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I will quote myself, as it adds much spice to my conversation:

"So here we are in the New Millennium, and thanks to Tom Holman and THX we’ve got lots of gain in our electronics. More gain than some of us need or want. At least 10 db more.

Think of it this way: If you are running your volume control down around 9 o’clock, you are actually throwing away signal level so that a subsequent gain stage can make it back up.

Routinely DIYers opt to make themselves a “passive preamp” - just an input selector and a volume control.

What could be better? Hardly any noise or distortion added by these simple passive parts. No feedback, no worrying about what type of capacitors – just musical perfection.

And yet there are guys out there who don’t care for the result. “It sucks the life out of the music”, is a commonly heard refrain (really - I’m being serious here!). Maybe they are reacting psychologically to the need to turn the volume control up compared to an active preamp.

I suppose if I had to floor the accelerator to drive 55 mph, maybe I’d think the life was being sucked out of my driving. Then again, maybe I like 55. Nice and safe, good gas mileage…"

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Old 11th September 2009, 07:28 PM   #9
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Default Yeah...Papa knows what he is talking about

But we have to think a lot (me) to understand how deep Papa gone.


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Old 12th September 2009, 12:17 AM   #10
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Sometine I see, and eard, young guys in their car with an 200 to 500 watt amp, you just ear boom boom boom, no real music there, no definition, soundstage etc... only boom boom, ha ha ha...

Volume are relate to psycological factors, but also to the quality of the amp, a bad amp will have low definition and no dynamic at low level, with some amp you need to boost up the treble and power to have an "imitation" of definition and dynamic , and forget about a good soundstage with those amps.

For myself, the last amp I've made for a friend was about 40 watt only, but with lot of definition, dynamic and a superb soundstage, even at 1 watt output and she never need to crack it up.

And anyway at 53 years old I don't like exagerated volume music listening.

So, we need a good quality amp to really apreciate it at low or moderate volume.

Peoples who look for sonic quality before power output are a minority, that his why that they sell so much dull sounding amps and home cinema systems in stores, buyer don't mind for sonic quality but they are impressed by the big boom boom sound output.



Last edited by gaetan8888; 12th September 2009 at 12:21 AM.
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