Looking for input on this gain structure I am working on - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 02-12-2013, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
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So I borrowed an older O scope from a friend and am trying to setup gains but some things just don't seem to add up.

I am running an Onkyo 3009, into an SMS1, into 2 EP4000's.

Step 1. Put 60hz test tone into Oppo and hooked up scope to sub output from Onkyo. I am having a really tough time trying to read this thing as it doesn't ever appear to square off.
Here is the wave with sub out at +12 and volume at 0. It looks like it might barely be clipping but it's hard to tell. I can't imagine the Onkyo putting out almost 20 volts unclipped.


For comparison, here is the sub volume at -2.5, volume on SMS at +28 and +32. That certainly appears clipped.



Here is the SMS1 output at a setting of 22 with sub out at -2.5.


At this level, the EP4000's gains are running wide open. SMS volume of 24 puts them into clip, so I backed off to 22.

So my final gain structure is Onkyo MV 0, Sub out -2.5, SMS1 +22, and EP4000 gains maxed. Does this appear correct? If that is I originally set them up very cool as Aud set sub gain at -12.5 and I had SMS1 at 15 with EP4000's at 1/2 gain.

This also goes against what most people say about driving the EP4000 to clipping. The EP4000 input sensitivity is 1.5v. So I should be able to clip the amp with a 1.5v signal, yes??? Then why does it take a 3.5v signal from my SMS1 to drive it to clipping? If I remember correctly I am feeding about 1.49 volts at -2.5 from my 3009 to the SMS1. So the SMS is boosting the signal 2 volts via the volume control, up to the 3.49v to drive amps to clipping.

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post #2 of 23 Old 02-12-2013, 11:07 PM - Thread Starter
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The other interesting thing that I'm finding is that others had mentioned the SMS having it's input voltage clipped at around 1 volt or so. I outputted 5 volts to it and measured the output and it wasn't clipping. The only thing that appeared to cause a clipped signal was boosting the SMS's volume up too much, yet I have never seen anyone talk about that????

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post #3 of 23 Old 02-13-2013, 06:28 AM
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To get my onkyo's to clip you have to put the sub channel to +12 and turn the master well past 0. They put out a ton of voltage.


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post #4 of 23 Old 02-13-2013, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ricci View Post

To get my onkyo's to clip you have to put the sub channel to +12 and turn the master well past 0. They put out a ton of voltage.

OK, well that confirms that. 20 volts is crazy non clipping output.

I'm still curious why it takes 3.5 volts to clip the EP's. Shouldn't it be much less than that with zero attenuation?

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post #5 of 23 Old 02-13-2013, 10:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Hmmm, I decided that just to double check measurements I'd download the 60hz tone off of HTS forum. I burned this one (which is MP3), and it shows much lower voltage readings (13 volts compared to 20 volts max from Onkyo) than the 60hz sinewave from Bass Mekanik that I dl'd off of I tunes. Any reason maybe an MP3 version might not output 0dbs signal? I can't imaging Bruce's would not be accurate. I think I'll stick with the hotter readings from the original disc just to be on the safe side.

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post #6 of 23 Old 02-13-2013, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
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OK, maybe this Flu I have been fighting the last few days has taken a toll on me, but unless I'm missing something, there was absolutely no reason to setup a gain structure.

Maybe it has more to do with guys who's subs are under performing because there is no way I will ever be even close to clipping either my outputs, SMS1, or amp.

As mentioned earlier, my sub out was at 0, with SMS on bypass and at volume 22. Gains on EP's had to be wide open to reach clip point.

Well I just went through and EQ'd the SMS1, and to get the levels even close to matching up with the mains, I had to back the sub out to -10 and the volume on the SMS was only at 3. eek.gif

So I run through and eq everything (I'll post some graphs for input later), and re run Audyssey. Final setting is sub out at -13, SMS at 13, and gains on EP's at 20. At these settings it would be impossible to clip the EP's. I will meter the subs to see if they need to be bumped up, but it won't change much in the grand scheme of things.

Am I missing something, or is this a good thing from going overkill??? smile.gif

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post #7 of 23 Old 02-14-2013, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by bass addict View Post

OK, maybe this Flu I have been fighting the last few days has taken a toll on me, but unless I'm missing something, there was absolutely no reason to setup a gain structure.

Maybe it has more to do with guys who's subs are under performing because there is no way I will ever be even close to clipping either my outputs, SMS1, or amp.

As mentioned earlier, my sub out was at 0, with SMS on bypass and at volume 22. Gains on EP's had to be wide open to reach clip point.

Well I just went through and EQ'd the SMS1, and to get the levels even close to matching up with the mains, I had to back the sub out to -10 and the volume on the SMS was only at 3. eek.gif

So I run through and eq everything (I'll post some graphs for input later), and re run Audyssey. Final setting is sub out at -13, SMS at 13, and gains on EP's at 20. At these settings it would be impossible to clip the EP's. I will meter the subs to see if they need to be bumped up, but it won't change much in the grand scheme of things.

Am I missing something, or is this a good thing from going overkill??? smile.gif

How do you like that SMS-1 compared to something such as a minidsp, which is soo much cheaper? Also what are you referring to with your statement that the "EP's at 20"? I have an EP4k but never notices any numbers on the gain knobs, is that what you are referring to?
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post #8 of 23 Old 02-14-2013, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Martycool007 View Post

How do you like that SMS-1 compared to something such as a minidsp, which is soo much cheaper? Also what are you referring to with your statement that the "EP's at 20"? I have an EP4k but never notices any numbers on the gain knobs, is that what you are referring to?

I haven't played with the mini, so I can't make a direct comparison. They each have their pro's and con's. If you don't want to screw with REW, the SMS1 is a nice all in one kit. I like some of the features it offers such as sub volume control on the fly, and separate eq options for music, movies, etc.

I will be using REW alongside it, but it's nice to know it's not required if one so chooses to forgo that option. While my xt32 does a pretty good job with the rest of my speakers, it does some weird things in the sub world, so I'm glad to have this. If you check out my build thread you can see some comparison graphs with Audyssey and the SMS.

As far as the EP statement; that is in correlation to the number on the gain knobs on the front.

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post #9 of 23 Old 02-14-2013, 09:43 AM
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I keep all Wayne's tracks handy.

Disconnect speakers before any tones
1kHz 0dBFS
36Hz 0dBFS
60Hz 0dBFS
pink noise signal

Not sure on the SMS setup in out and level numbers. As stated already most AVR's and headunits are digital so can usually get near full volume without clipping. Should see distortion especially when cranking up individual channels ie sub setting to +max and at max volume. If don't know or can't measure I'd follow Wayne's advice just to cut the volume number by up to 30%.
Once gain structure is setup you should never clip anything. Only thing you might hear is a cry for help from your speakers if using too much power. The amps running wide open are only a problem if the speakers can't take the juice. Attenuate the input via front knobs which cuts the output. Done and done.

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post #10 of 23 Old 02-14-2013, 10:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by autox320 View Post

I keep all Wayne's tracks handy.

Disconnect speakers before any tones
1kHz 0dBFS
36Hz 0dBFS
60Hz 0dBFS
pink noise signal

Not sure on the SMS setup in out and level numbers. As stated already most AVR's and headunits are digital so can usually get near full volume without clipping. Should see distortion especially when cranking up individual channels ie sub setting to +max and at max volume. If don't know or can't measure I'd follow Wayne's advice just to cut the volume number by up to 30%.
Once gain structure is setup you should never clip anything. Only thing you might hear is a cry for help from your speakers if using too much power. The amps running wide open are only a problem if the speakers can't take the juice. Attenuate the input via front knobs which cuts the output. Done and done.

Well here are the known factors.

1) The Onkyo can output up to 20 volts without clipping
2) No matter how many volts I output, I did not see the SMS1 clipping the input signal (as has been stated in other threads)
3) The SMS1 will clip the output signal at a volume level of 28 and above
4) It takes a gain structure of 0 db output, and volume level of 24 on SMS1 to clip EP4000, and that requires gains full open.

So what is the relevance of any of this?

Calibrated sub levels (in my case) require sub out at -12, SMS1 at 16, and EP4000 gains at app 1/4. So setting up a gain structure is absolutely worthless in this case as I'm nowhere near clipping any of the signal chain. It sounds like the only way a gain structure would come in handy is for guys who run too little of a sub (or amp) for the room size???? Or am I missing something here?

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post #11 of 23 Old 02-14-2013, 12:44 PM
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BA,

In your case you seem to be fine, but for others, they are not so lucky. In my case, I have yet to reset my gain structure with the new SI build, and I can clearly tell that I do in fact need to make some changes to get a little more out of my signal headed into the LG clone.
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The amps running wide open are only a problem if the speakers can't take the juice. Attenuate the input via front knobs which cuts the output. Done and done.

Is this entirely accurate? If this were the case, and your system was custom built to have just enough wattage on your amp to match you speakers/subs, then no one should ever have their gains anything but maxed out on the amp... I have always done my systems this way, and have NEVER even been able to have my gains at max on the amps with the subs actually being calibrated.

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post #12 of 23 Old 02-14-2013, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Agree'd. The only way I would think you would ever attain setting gains at max, is if you had a pretty weak sub out signal on your AVR. I think most cases would require attenuating the gain to some degree. Like I mentioned, I can't even get close to half as I only have about another db of output I can back out of my receiver before bottoming the sub out.

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post #13 of 23 Old 02-14-2013, 10:28 PM
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Pretty close to matching amp power with speakers yes.
example:
Was running the ep4k's wide open (-32); one per dts-10. Without a HPF I keep them at -30 for now. Yammy AVR sub level sits majority at 0. Can go to +6 before clipping the BFD when at determined max volume on the AVR. The main amps driving SHO10s all have the gains at max (-32) for each epq1200 They reach just under clipping at full AVR set volume. The surrounds JBL8320s were the only ones I had dialed back to -28 due to the receiver setting for them was +7 for those channels. Now that the tweeters are replaced with CD horns the receiver channel levels match the mains easier and sit at similar level. Now the surround epq1200 also sits wide open due to the input channel sig is within the same range as the rest of the setup.

I'll be redoing my entire setup when more time is available. Adding more main's making towers, and tower style surrounds. 4ohm loads etc I'm sure the structure will easily change. Lot's to do.

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post #14 of 23 Old 02-15-2013, 11:12 AM
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Ok, I guess everything I have read is that your amp's gain is the LAST gain you set. Max out AVR to clipping, max out out EQ (if you have one) to clipping, then adjust amp gain to level match to system, wherever that may be. In my system, I am at about 1/8th gain on the LG. What you are saying is that I am missing out on 88% of my amp's power? Not exactly.

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post #15 of 23 Old 02-15-2013, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by beastaudio View Post

. What you are saying is that I am missing out on 88% of my amp's power? Not exactly.

No, just means you have a lot more headroom. In the past I have been able to maximize gains a little better. With my current build, as I've just found out, there is no way I am ever going to get even close to maxing out the chain.

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post #16 of 23 Old 02-15-2013, 11:41 AM
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well even at 1/8th the amp power, my amp still approaches clipping in really heavy stuff. turning up the gain on the amp would get me there quicker obviously, but doing so, I would just have to turn down other parts of the chain to compensate, which in turn, seems counter-productive at best.

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post #17 of 23 Old 02-15-2013, 11:44 AM
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If I may interject: 1/8 on a dial may have no real reference, if the dial is not linear. It is a matter of comparing voltage levels. Depending on the dynamic range of the source material a peak may be much higher ( 20db+ ) in terms of db level than average level.

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post #18 of 23 Old 02-15-2013, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by beastaudio View Post

well even at 1/8th the amp power, my amp still approaches clipping in really heavy stuff. turning up the gain on the amp would get me there quicker obviously, but doing so, I would just have to turn down other parts of the chain to compensate, which in turn, seems counter-productive at best.

It's all about voltage. Your amp gains are just attenuating the voltage to a certain point. If it takes 3volts to clip your amp, you can either get there by +10 sub out and the gains fully attenuated, or 0 sub out and gains wide open (just using random numbers). It really doesn't matter how you get there (as long as output signal is not being clipped). As mentioned, gains are not volume knobs.

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Depending on the dynamic range of the source material a peak may be much higher ( 20db+ ) in terms of db level than average level.

True, but that's why you set gains with a 0dbs signal. That is the highest signal that will be output from your player, so as long as you don't send the amp into clipping with that, you are good to go. Now eq'ing will effect this so one needs to exercise caution and re check levels after any major eq sessions.

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post #19 of 23 Old 02-15-2013, 12:49 PM
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True, but that's why you set gains with a 0dbs signal.
Definitely have made a habit of calibrating my gain blocks along the signal chain in my A/V production as well as live sound.cool.gif

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post #20 of 23 Old 02-15-2013, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by autox320 View Post

Once gain structure is setup you should never clip anything. Only thing you might hear is a cry for help from your speakers if using too much power.

The result of a proper gain structure is that you don’t have any clipping anywhere in the electronic signal chain at any volume setting you would ever use. This means the “weak link” in the chain could end up being the speakers, but naturally, this fully depends on the speakers in question. One might be using speakers that have way more power-handling capability than their amplification could ever deliver.


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The amps running wide open are only a problem if the speakers can't take the juice. Attenuate the input via front knobs which cuts the output. Done and done.

A better tact would be to just turn down the front-end (pre-amp) volume. Or get better speakers. biggrin.gif

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post #21 of 23 Old 02-15-2013, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bass addict View Post

1) The Onkyo can output up to 20 volts without clipping
2) No matter how many volts I output, I did not see the SMS1 clipping the input signal (as has been stated in other threads)
3) The SMS1 will clip the output signal at a volume level of 28 and above
4) It takes a gain structure of 0 db output, and volume level of 24 on SMS1 to clip EP4000, and that requires gains full open.

So what is the relevance of any of this?

I don’t have any experience with the SMS-1, but from what you say it appears the volume setting is for the output, not the input?

If so, and if it will take any input signal you can feed it without clipping, there’s no reason to mess with the volume setting. Just set it for unity – i.e., the signal level coming in is what goes out, along with any level changes resulting to the filters. You could use the output volume to compensate for any changes in overall gain from the filters, but as long as it doesn't result in clipping from the equalizer itself, that can just as easily be handled at the downstream amplifier.

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post #22 of 23 Old 02-15-2013, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beastaudio View Post

Ok, I guess everything I have read is that your amp's gain is the LAST gain you set. Max out AVR to clipping, max out out EQ (if you have one) to clipping, then adjust amp gain to level match to system, wherever that may be.

As long as the equalizer can accept the input signal without clipping, and any filters engaged don’t cause internal clipping, you don’t need to make any gain adjustments to the equalizer. Just let it pass whatever signal comes in straight through. If the combination of input signal levels + filters causes the equalizer to clip, then reduce its output level (if an adjustment is provided) by a figure equal to the gain change of the most severe filter, be it a cut or boost filter.

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post #23 of 23 Old 02-15-2013, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne A. Pflughaupt View Post

I don’t have any experience with the SMS-1, but from what you say it appears the volume setting is for the output, not the input?

If so, and if it will take any input signal you can feed it without clipping, there’s no reason to mess with the volume setting. Just set it for unity – i.e., the signal level coming in is what goes out, along with any level changes resulting to the filters. You could use the output volume to compensate for any changes in overall gain from the filters, but as long as it doesn't result in clipping from the equalizer itself, that can just as easily be handled at the downstream amplifier.

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I agree Wayne. I set the volume for close to unity at 16 (unity is 15) and called it a day.

The volume is for the output. What I found interesting is many claimed the SMS would clip the input above 1.5v or so, and they made no mention of clipping the output. I found just the opposite. I couldn't detect any clipping of the input, regardless of voltage (I didn't go to the extreme here), but the output did clip at around 5volts. I'm not sure why the volume can be run up to around 50, as that is well past the onset of clipping, regardless of input voltage.

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