file Choosing the best Receiver or Amp Volume Setting

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ArthurDaniels Posted 3 years 2 weeks ago
#16574
While checking the relative volume levels of my speakers (by using the pink noise provided by my Onkyo NR 3009 Receiver), I noticed that the receiver presented the pink noise at a "0 db" Relative loudness level (or 82 Absolute loudness level). My Onkyo Receiver has a feature which allows me to read audio volume levels in either "Absolute" or "Relative" terms. Absolute levels are presented as numbers, with higher numbers indicating louder volume; while Relative levels are presented in decibels (db) with louder volumes indicated by less negative dbs.

After a bit of research, I came to understand that this value of 0 db or 82 represented the standard reference volume level, where the receiver is not attenuating the sound level. In general, this standard volume level is much louder than the levels at which I have been typically listening to music (or watching movies).

So, I asked myself two questions:

1. What effect, other than loudness, does this volume setting have on the music to which I am listening?

2. What would be the effect, other than loudness, of setting the volume control to 0 db and then using the playback level control in my Musichi Player (part of the Musichi Suite on my computer) to vary the loudness level of the digital signal coming out of my computer and going into my external Peachttree Audio DAC via a USB connection? (The DAC output is 2-channel line-level analog audio and is connected to my Onkyo via an analog cable.

To attempt to answer these two questions, I am now listening to a variety of music, including jazz, solo piano, solo vocal, choral, and symphonic, with the Volume Control on my Onkyo Receiver set to "0 db relative" (82 absolute) and I am using the Musichi Player to set the playback volume level. I have been listening at various settings of the Musichi Player Volume Control.

With the Onkyo Volume Control set to 0 db, the sound is much louder than at the previous settings I had typically been using. Therefore, I am setting the Musichi Player Volume Control to a much lower setting to achieve a typical listening volume level to which I am accustomed.

It is too early for me to have reached any conclusions. However, my initial impressions are that the sound might be a bit cleaner with the Onkyo Volume Level set to 0 db and the Musichi Player level set to very low levels. This early impression is causing me to wonder whether or not I have been over-driving the line-level input to my Onkyo.

Unfortunately, I cannot vary the HDMI Output Level from my Blue-Ray DVD player, so I cannot replicate this experiment for movie audio. One this is certain - the 0 db setting is much too loud for comfortable movie watching and listening. A setting of -20 db is more acceptable for movies.

Has anyone else done this sort of signal-level comparison? If so, what were the results?

I'll reply to this post to update my findings after more listening. Meanwhile, thoughts and comments are welcome.

Happy listening,

Art

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ArthurDaniels Posted 3 years 1 week ago
#16593
Update:

I quickly discovered that, at 0 db Onkyo Volume Control setting, I was required to adjust the Musichi Player Volume Level to very low settings in order to achieve comfortable audio levels in the room. These low settings caused a loss of fine-tuning control of the volume. So, I am now listening with the Onkyo Volume Control set to -10 db. This level provides more usable overall volume control, while still keeping the Musichi Player Volume control range well below 100% for normal room volume.

I'm not sure that this experiment is going to yield any useful results, but I would still be interested in comments from anyone on this topic.

Happy Listening,

Art

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