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Topic: [TOS #5] From: Why do people use AVRs for stereo? (Read 684 times) previous topic - next topic
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[TOS #5] From: Why do people use AVRs for stereo?

Apologies if this is unrelated to the thread topic, but instead of starting a new thread I thought I would ask the question here, since we're talking about AVRs.

I've always wanted to know, why is it that the master volume dial takes so much turning to get audible sound? What I mean is, if the dial runs from -80 to + 15, on my system I need to turn up the dial to -30 just to get some sound.

I've owned several AVRs in the past, and all of them operate similarly - I need to turn the volume up from the lowest - 80 or -99, and to get a little sound, I need to turn the volume knob up to -40 or thereabouts. So what happened from -80 or -99 to -40? There is practically nothing there!

So I don't know if that is characteristic of all AVRs, or if it has something to do with the volume pots used or something else. I have no idea, but I thought it would be interesting to find out!

[TOS #5] From: Why do people use AVRs for stereo?

Reply #1
The amplifier is only one step in the chain from audio source to your ears. The other pieces all play a part in how loud your music sounds. Think of it as each component multiplying things by some factor.

So, the music on the CD may be louder or softer than average. Your CD player (if that is the next component) has an out put level that may be higher or lower than average. Your speakers or headphones may be more or less sensitive than average. Your room may have anything from carpets and drapes to bare floors and walls. Finally, your taste in listening may range from soft to blasting.

Against all of these variables you have one single way of compensating - the volume control knob on the amplifier. Because of this the volume control must cover a very wide range of amplification. Typically it will have either too much range at the top end, or too much range at the bottom end, or both, for your particular situation.

[TOS #5] From: Why do people use AVRs for stereo?

Reply #2
The amplifier is only one step in the chain from audio source to your ears. The other pieces all play a part in how loud your music sounds. Think of it as each component multiplying things by some factor.

So, the music on the CD may be louder or softer than average. Your CD player (if that is the next component) has an out put level that may be higher or lower than average. Your speakers or headphones may be more or less sensitive than average. Your room may have anything from carpets and drapes to bare floors and walls. Finally, your taste in listening may range from soft to blasting.

Against all of these variables you have one single way of compensating - the volume control knob on the amplifier. Because of this the volume control must cover a very wide range of amplification. Typically it will have either too much range at the top end, or too much range at the bottom end, or both, for your particular situation.

[TOS #5] From: Why do people use AVRs for stereo?

Reply #3
Pdq, but I'm talking about using several AVRs hooked up to the same source components and speakers.

In each case I have to turn the knob considerably to get any audible sound. So from -99, I have to move the dial to -40 to start getting audible sound.

Other receivers I've owned are similar. It takes many turns of the knob to start getting audible sound. So I'm wondering why that is - why is there so much distance between the maximum soft range and the start of audible sound?

[TOS #5] From: Why do people use AVRs for stereo?

Reply #4
Apologies if this is unrelated to the thread topic, but instead of starting a new thread I thought I would ask the question here, since we're talking about AVRs.

I've always wanted to know, why is it that the master volume dial takes so much turning to get audible sound? What I mean is, if the dial runs from -80 to + 15, on my system I need to turn up the dial to -30 just to get some sound.

I've owned several AVRs in the past, and all of them operate similarly - I need to turn the volume up from the lowest - 80 or -99, and to get a little sound, I need to turn the volume knob up to -40 or thereabouts. So what happened from -80 or -99 to -40? There is practically nothing there!


At really low levels the sound gets lost in the noise floor of the room, or the lack of sensitivity of your ears which generally are the weakest links.

BTW you must not have much experience with separates because I've seen the exact same thing happen with them. No reason why it shouldn't.

Also you much not have much experience with modern AVRs with automatic setup facilities that tend to make the meaning of the nomenclature on the front panel volume control more uniform and reasonable.

I just looked at mine, and a typical setting (from a listening session this morning)  is like -16 dB.  Maximum is +115 dB which measurements say corresponds to about that many dB SPL peak level at the primary listening location in the room.  I'm under the impression that most AVRs self-adjust themselves so that digital FS is just below clipping.

[TOS #5] From: Why do people use AVRs for stereo?

Reply #5
Apologies if this is unrelated to the thread topic, but instead of starting a new thread I thought I would ask the question here, since we're talking about AVRs.

I've always wanted to know, why is it that the master volume dial takes so much turning to get audible sound? What I mean is, if the dial runs from -80 to + 15, on my system I need to turn up the dial to -30 just to get some sound.

I've owned several AVRs in the past, and all of them operate similarly - I need to turn the volume up from the lowest - 80 or -99, and to get a little sound, I need to turn the volume knob up to -40 or thereabouts. So what happened from -80 or -99 to -40? There is practically nothing there!


At really low levels the sound gets lost in the noise floor of the room, or the lack of sensitivity of your ears which generally are the weakest links.


Even with headphones, it takes a long winding to get to audible sound from the maximum soft setting (whichever that is depending on the model of AVR).

Quote
Also you much not have much experience with modern AVRs with automatic setup facilities that tend to make the meaning of the nomenclature on the front panel volume control more uniform and reasonable.


I normally use an SPL meter to adjust the speaker levels. Never use the automatic set up facility. If I adjust the levels so that 0 on the master volume is 75 dB using pink noise, then I suppose I'm all set.

Quote
I just looked at mine, and a typical setting (from a listening session this morning)  is like -16 dB.


Yes, but from the maximum soft level, which is let's say -100, going from to -90 results in no audible sound. -80, no audible sound. -70 no audible sound. -60 no audible sound. -50, audible sound, but barely.

I normally listen between -15 and -20 with normal program material. 

[TOS #5] From: Why do people use AVRs for stereo?

Reply #6
Pdq, but I'm talking about using several AVRs hooked up to the same source components and speakers.

Your AVR was designed to work with everybody's systems, so must cover a much greater range than if it was designed just for your setup.

[TOS #5] From: Why do people use AVRs for stereo?

Reply #7
Yes, but from the maximum soft level, which is let's say -100, going from to -90 results in no audible sound. -80, no audible sound. -70 no audible sound. -60 no audible sound. -50, audible sound, but barely.


So much for ears as the ultimate standard of judgement.

I've measured this sort of thing many times, and always find something that is at least measurable below -60 dB.  With my current setup -60 dB corresponds to about 75 dB below peak output and that will be clearly measurable, if not audible.

The thing to worry about is the output going dead when the output goes below some reasonably high point like -60 or -70 dB. With gear with any reasonable pretensions to quality, it does not happen.  I'd expect to find, and have often found  measurable evidence of stuff that is more than 100 dB below peak output.

[TOS #5] From: Why do people use AVRs for stereo?

Reply #8
Quote
The thing to worry about is the output going dead when the output goes below some reasonably high point like -60 or -70 dB. With gear with any reasonable pretensions to quality, it does not happen.


I'm afraid you're dead wrong on that. Maybe you haven't experienced modern AVR's or are stuck using 15 year old machines, but on multiple units, different brands, I can set them up - 60 dB, and at a typical seated distance of 2-3 meters, there will be virtually no audible sound at all.

What I'm saying can be verified by anyone doing a subjective listening test with any AVR.

[TOS #5] From: Why do people use AVRs for stereo?

Reply #9
I think Rich B's criticism is quite fair.

I have always assumed the following is the explanation for what we have now: Logarithmic scales don't go down to silence (zero). Analogue "logarithmic" volume controls weren't truly logarithmic, and did go down to zero. Digital AVR volume controls with dB units try to be fully logarithmic (until the point where they give up, and mute, calling this -Infinity dB). Somebody somewhere got worried about having too large a jump from the quietest level down to silence and/or a marketing department got worried that some other manufacturer's amp had more steps between silence and full scale. Either way, they included lots of useless steps between "inaudible" and "mute".

On an analogue volume control, you can maybe turn it more carefully to get an extremely quiet but not silent loudness if you really want (though at the bottom end of the range, all but the best analogue volume controls don't work that well). On a digital volume control, you only have the discrete levels the manufacturer included. Hence they include more to make everyone happy.

If the bottom end of the scale worked more like an analogue volume control, it might seem more intuitive in terms of "feel", but if they displayed accurate dB figures for the now-not-really-logarithmic range just above mute, the numbers would jump in what most people would think was a strange way. Someone would complain!

Cheers,
David.

 
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