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Thread: Some basic questions about volume, gain, sensitivity and impedance.

  1. #1
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    Default Some basic questions about volume, gain, sensitivity and impedance.

    1. In one of my systems I use an integrated amp, so there’s a volume nob. In fact I control volume digitally. Does it matter for sound and image quality how far round I turn the volume nob.

    2. The same preamp has a nob labelled « gain » with two settings, 0db and 6db. Does it matter which setting I choose.

    3 Another amp has a pair of settings labelled « sensitivity », this is a power amp, which is used just for a pair of passive subwoofers. What should I do with this?

    4. A third amp, a power amp, has a nob at the back for speaker impedance, with settings for 4R, 8R and 16R. What physical effect is it having?

    5. What is the difference between gain, volume and sensitivity. Answers compréhensible to the average 10 year old appreciated.

    6. Are there any advantages and disadvantages to sound and image quality of digital volume control over using a nob on a preamp?

    The amps in question are Electrocompaniet ECI-2 (1 and 2); Quad 520f (3); Radford STA25 Mk3 (4).
    Last edited by Mandryka; Sep-21-2019 at 12:29.

  2. #2
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    Simply put, volume is the output in dB and gain is the input in dB. They're both ways of adjusting the volume just on different ends of the chain. Sensitivity in a speaker determines how loud it will be per watt of power. Higher sensitivity is louder per watt. Lower sensitivity is lower volume. All of these things affect the perceived volume, just in different ways.

    The easiest way to figure out how it applies is to google search the instruction manual for your particular components.

    In theory, it's better to keep digital volume high and adjust with a normal volume pot if you can. Digital volume controls lower the volume by chopping off the top of the dynamic range. If you lower the volume, the noise floor stays in the same place and you've effectively reduced your signal to noise. In practice, using the digital volume control probably won't make any audible difference because dynamic range in digital is overkill anyway.
    Last edited by bigshot; Sep-21-2019 at 19:30.

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