In my case I was referring to any - if any - flat level of gain separately from voltage-attenuating volume control. 'Fixed' might have been a better term. Now BD may split hairs and argue that the two elements aren't separate and that instead there is one voltage control - up or down. But even if that is so, that is beside the point I was trying to make.
I guess all this is rather off-topic but I just found it interesting to realise just how much voltage attenuation is required for relatively 'normal' listening levels with the sorts of power amps we love, even with extremely inefficient speakers. Take my very inefficient Andra III. They have an advertised sensitivity of 88dB (dB per 1 watt at 1 metre) which equates to an efficiency of about 0.4%. I couple them to a mere, in the context of some people here, 200W per channel amplifier with a gain of 26.4dB. If I want to listen at an average SPL level of, say, 80dB 3m from the speaker pair (I sit closer actually), that's a mere 0.75W approx output from the amp. As I understand it, assuming a load of 8 ohms, just for arguments sake, that's 3.5V out of the amp (Vpeak = SQRT(2 x Power x Resistance). My Krell FPB 200 amp has a gain of 26.4dB, a voltage gain of just shy of 21x i.e. 3.5V out equates to 0.16V in. The 'pre-amp' needs to cut the 'benchmark' voltage level from a CD player in half before it hits my amp. In terms of any SNR the numerator is cut in half. Hence the quip which I didn't intend to start such a debate.
PS: if there's a problem with my calculations above then please don't hesitate to point it out.
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