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How much above 0db is safe?

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
I have a new 5.1 setup (Yamaha RX-V765 receiver with NHT Absolute Speakers). When I set the volume as high as 0db, I get fairly loud sound but not what I was expecting (not what I want for movie night!).

Is it safe to go much higher than 0db? What is the highest I should consider setting it?
post #2 of 50
On my Yamaha 663, "0" is certaihnly loud with my Polk Monitor 60 speakers. With headphones, I can go up to +5 when needed,...but yeah 0 is beyond loud...normal range is down around -15 for me
post #3 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by natchie View Post

On my Yamaha 663, "0" is certaihnly loud with my Polk Monitor 60 speakers. With headphones, I can go up to +5 when needed,...but yeah 0 is beyond loud...normal range is down around -15 for me

Maybe it's my room which is not completely enclosed by walls?

All I know is I had it at about -20db, felt like it was fairly weak, turned it up to -10db and it was better, then got all the way to 0db and felt like it was decent but not really close to what the experience should be. I did a speaker test and they're all hooked up and everything, so I am not sure why I'm getting less than desirable results.
post #4 of 50
Did you perform the YPAO setup?
post #5 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Did you perform the YPAO setup?

Yes I did. I think it did a good job of balancing the speakers. I just don't feel it is loud enough. I don't mean to exaggerate, when I set it to 0 db it is "loud-ish", but not what I am used to hearing at friends' HTs with similar caliber equipment. Everything sounds good, sub and everything, just not right power-wise.
post #6 of 50
Does the volume control go above 0dB? If so... turn it up.
post #7 of 50
I don't know your Yamaha receiver very well. If possible I would suggest checking what settings it gave you for the calibration. Mostly the cross overs it picked. If it set these to low for your mains or surrounds. Lower than 80hz. Your speakers may sound more dull or less dynamic. Thus, also seeming less loud causing you to feel like you have to increase the volume.
post #8 of 50
Hey retro, your speakers are slightly lower sensitivity and your system is almost like mine. Yamaha HTR-6060 (v661) to NHT SuperOnes. Both our speakers have 86db sensitivity and the max volume level of my Yamaha is +16db. I sit about 8 to 10 feet away from the speakers and before I upgraded to an separate amp, I played movies LOUD somewhere between -15db to -10db. Above -10db it only got loud in a bad clock radio way since the Yamaha amps just don't have enough power to drive speakers to clear levels.

My Yamaha is about 4 generations behind, but I know that Yamaha has gotten weaker in the amps department significantly the past few years, so that could be why you need to crank it up. A review of my v661 found it 90watts at 2 channels/62 watts 5 channels and unfortunately recent Yamaha amps are much less. Of course, unless one of us is there it's hard to tell you the exact reason, but rest assured that I was in a similar boat nearly similar results before.

By the way, if you do listen to such LOUD levels with your speakers, you won't regret buying an external amp to power your fronts.
post #9 of 50
That's weard? On my RXv465 after finishing YPAO it sets the reference level for all my speakers at around 80db which means loudest I go is -10db. I bought a SP meter and then did and adjustment to 75db reference level. Now loudest I go is
-3db. Do you check your settings after YPAO? 80hz/crossover, set all speakers to small, check distance levels, do a test tone and at least by ear listen if the speakers sound around the same in volume?
post #10 of 50
I'm in the same boat as the OP...I recently bought a Denon AVR-791 and 0dB while loud is not as loud as I thought it should be...for regular TV watching I pretty much always listen between -10dB to 0dB...Blu-ray's are much louder though and I listen to them around -20dB...I was thinking about upgrading my receiver to a more powerful one thinking that maybe more power= louder at lower volumes but I don't know if that is the case

my speaker sensitivity is 87dB...I always thought 0dB= reference level and anything above 0 is not recommended as it leads to distortion and clipping...so I always listen at 0dB max even if it is not as loud as I like...is listening above 0dB OK?
post #11 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by TitusTroy View Post

I'm in the same boat as the OP...I recently bought a Denon AVR-791 and 0dB while loud is not as loud as I thought it should be...for regular TV watching I pretty much always listen between -10dB to 0dB...Blu-ray's are much louder though and I listen to them around -20dB...I was thinking about upgrading my receiver to a more powerful one thinking that maybe more power= louder at lower volumes but I don't know if that is the case

my speaker sensitivity is 87dB...I always thought 0dB= reference level and anything above 0 is not recommended as it leads to distortion and clipping...so I always listen at 0dB max even if it is not as loud as I like...is listening above 0dB OK?


To reach reference levels in your room with your speakers requires however much power it requires. If you listen to BDs at -20 dB, you're using one one-hundredth of the power you'd use at reference. If your amps had ten times as much power you would still use the exact same amount of power to play back at -20 dB. So if you're not distorting at your listening levels, you're fine.

Reference level is simply the level at which movies are mixed. If you play back through a calibrted system at reference, you're hearing things exactly as loudly as the mixing engineer heard on the mixing stage (assuming your speakers aren't compressing).

Reference level is not set on the basis of your receiver's power. Reference level is an absolute. How much power is needed to reach that level at your listening position depends on your speakers and things like how far from the speakers you sit. Going over reference will result in amplifier distortion only if it requires more power than your amp can deliver without undue distortion. For one setup, 20 watts may cover reference. For another 500 watts may be necessary.
post #12 of 50
Don't get too hung up on what number the volume knob says. YPAO most often will not calibrate "reference level" to the 0db setting.

Reference level is 75db in your room using full band pink noise. You can calibrate this with a SPL meter and adjusdting your speaker level setting so that 0db on your reveiver IS reference level.

That being said, if you want it louder and you are not experiencing clipping/distortion... turn it up!
post #13 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JEFFakaMAX View Post

Don't get too hung up on what number the volume knob says. YPAO most often will not calibrate "reference level" to the 0db setting.

Reference level is 75db in your room using full band pink noise. You can calibrate this with a SPL meter and adjusdting your speaker level setting so that 0db on your reveiver IS reference level.

That being said, if you want it louder and you are not experiencing clipping/distortion... turn it up!

So bottom line, does +10db sound like a safe number? :-)
post #14 of 50
How does it sound to you?

Back in the "old days", we just had a volume knob that went from 0 to 11 (joke). Turn it as loud as you like until it sounds bad.
post #15 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by JEFFakaMAX View Post

Don't get too hung up on what number the volume knob says. YPAO most often will not calibrate "reference level" to the 0db setting.

Reference level is 75db in your room using full band pink noise. You can calibrate this with a SPL meter and adjusdting your speaker level setting so that 0db on your reveiver IS reference level.

That being said, if you want it louder and you are not experiencing clipping/distortion... turn it up!

JUst to be pedantic, that's actually with limited band pink noise and, most critically, encoded at -30dBFS. My semiancient stereo-only test disc with pink noise at -20dBFS would call for setting zero to equal 85 dB from each speaker to make zero reference.
post #16 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by retroeric View Post

So bottom line, does +10db sound like a safe number? :-)

Do you hear it distorting? If YPAO doesn't set referenct to = zero on the volume dial (and it certainly has no need to do so if no other bells or whistles require it) then you'll need an SPL meter to assess for yourself where reference is in your room with your system. $40 at RatShack.
post #17 of 50
Yes that's what I did, first ran YPAO then checked it with my SP meter. YPAO set my reference level at 80db. I then adjusted to 75db.
post #18 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by JHAz View Post

Reference level is simply the level at which movies are mixed. If you play back through a calibrted system at reference, you're hearing things exactly as loudly as the mixing engineer heard on the mixing stage (assuming your speakers aren't compressing)

so shouldn't 0dB be the optimal setting then for all receivers?...if -10dB or anything else below 0dB is how far away you are from that 0dB reference level then shouldn't everyone be trying to get to that level for the perfect audio (for your particular speakers/receiver)?

seems like anything other 0dB would not be ideal as that is not how the sound mixers intended for the audio to be heard...now I'm not saying that anything other then 0dB will sound bad but if you want the optimal sound then shouldn't you listen to it at the optimal level?

this is from the THX website: "When you are watching a movie with the playback volume set to “0” on a THX Certified Receiver, you experience every sound element exactly like it was produced by the filmmaker—with the same fidelity, detail and clarity"

http://www.thx.com/consumer/thx-tech...ference-level/
post #19 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by TitusTroy View Post

so shouldn't 0dB be the optimal setting then for all receivers?...if -10dB or anything else below 0dB is how far away you are from that 0dB reference level then shouldn't everyone be trying to get to that level for the perfect audio (for your particular speakers/receiver)?

seems like anything other 0dB would not be ideal as that is not how the sound mixers intended for the audio to be heard...now I'm not saying that anything other then 0dB will sound bad but if you want the optimal sound then shouldn't you listen to it at the optimal level?

Optimal means the most desirable possible under a restriction expressed or implied. It is sometimes taken to mean best (in some set of circumstances).

In the case of THX it means most like listening to a THX soundtrack while sitting in a THX theater.

THX's explanation of reference level also conveys that with a THX receiver appropriate to your room size, 0dB Reference Level, is85dB SPL with 20dB of headroom. Living rooms are not theaters though and many find listening at 0dB is a bit loud. With long exposure to some program material, it is potentially harmful.

THX recognizes that many will not listen at reference level and offers compensating sound field manipulation.

My THX receiver is set to THX reference level; the volume is usually set lower than 0dB. I really do not feel sub-optimal at -20dB.

But as always De gustibus non disputandum est.
post #20 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by TitusTroy View Post

so shouldn't 0dB be the optimal setting then for all receivers?...if -10dB or anything else below 0dB is how far away you are from that 0dB reference level then shouldn't everyone be trying to get to that level for the perfect audio (for your particular speakers/receiver)?

seems like anything other 0dB would not be ideal as that is not how the sound mixers intended for the audio to be heard...now I'm not saying that anything other then 0dB will sound bad but if you want the optimal sound then shouldn't you listen to it at the optimal level?

this is from the THX website: "When you are watching a movie with the playback volume set to “0” on a THX Certified Receiver, you experience every sound element exactly like it was produced by the filmmaker—with the same fidelity, detail and clarity"

http://www.thx.com/consumer/thx-tech...ference-level/

You'll find plenty of people here that feel exactly like that. There also are plenty of people here and in the real world that don't have systems that can cleanly hit reference. For me, reference is not optimal in my room - - iit's louder than I want to hear it. I don't have to keep my dialog loud enough that I can understand it if somebody noisily dumps their drink, a baby cries, or I'm munching my popcorn. And I don't have the fallout from having 120 dB sounds emenating from my living room.

These days there are processes available, like Audyssey's Dynamic EQ, to "correct" the sound at lower levels to have the same perceived spectrum as it had at reference. And things like Dolby Volume or Dynamic Volume can keep quiet sounds from becoming inaudible if you listen significantly quiet.
post #21 of 50
... not to mention that most people's "listening rooms" (living rooms) have acoustics that make some sounds too loud or echo and turning up the volume exacerbates those problems.
post #22 of 50
A quick question, although this thread is old, maybe someone can chime in.

Does above 0db mean that you are AMPLIFYING the reference levels? therefore amplifying ambien noise/distortion as well?

I might not be explaining this the right way, but

Basically, when recording music/guitar, you can BOOST your microphone PAST 0db, but then you're amplifying noise picked up by the microphone, so you always want to stay lower than 0db, and boost your guitar volume.

Are you ALWAYS introducing lower levels of quality (assuming the amp can handle the power without issues) when you are exceeding 0db levels on a HT receiver?
post #23 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by master0068 View Post

A quick question, although this thread is old, maybe someone can chime in.

Does above 0db mean that you are AMPLIFYING the reference levels? therefore amplifying ambien noise/distortion as well?

I might not be explaining this the right way, but

Basically, when recording music/guitar, you can BOOST your microphone PAST 0db, but then you're amplifying noise picked up by the microphone, so you always want to stay lower than 0db, and boost your guitar volume.

Are you ALWAYS introducing lower levels of quality (assuming the amp can handle the power without issues) when you are exceeding 0db levels on a HT receiver?

"0db" is not an absolute value, it's different on every AVR. All it means is that it's "0db" on THAT pre-amp, with the relationship between input and output being the idea. But that doesn't even mean that the same input on different AVRs at 0db will result in the same output at the pre-amp stage. Often there are attenuated levels on different audio streams and a whole assortment of adjustments being made, not to mention level adjustments made by EQ and channel balancing.

Lastly, each AVR may arbitrarily choose "0" whether it actually represents "0" or not. IOW, it means nothing.

That said, it is true that increasing output gain over input gain can introduce clipping or distortion in the amp or pre-amp stages - or both. It's also fair to say that virtually any AVR will have considerable clipping in it's amp output stages at 0db, usually at a lot less than that. It all depends on the amp and speakers being used. So it's also true that virtually no AVR can power 5-7 channels at 0db without clipping and distortion, much less at higher levels.
post #24 of 50
So? If I need to drive this amp at 0db to get the volume levels I need (my speakers aren't overly sensitive), that it probably isn't for me?

And I thought 0db was supposed to be equivalent to Reference Levels?
post #25 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

"0db" is not an absolute value, it's different on every AVR. All it means is that it's "0db" on THAT pre-amp, with the relationship between input and output being the idea. But that doesn't even mean that the same input on different AVRs at 0db will result in the same output at the pre-amp stage. Often there are attenuated levels on different audio streams and a whole assortment of adjustments being made, not to mention level adjustments made by EQ and channel balancing.
Lastly, each AVR may arbitrarily choose "0" whether it actually represents "0" or not. IOW, it means nothing.
That said, it is true that increasing output gain over input gain can introduce clipping or distortion in the amp or pre-amp stages - or both. It's also fair to say that virtually any AVR will have considerable clipping in it's amp output stages at 0db, usually at a lot less than that. It all depends on the amp and speakers being used. So it's also true that virtually no AVR can power 5-7 channels at 0db without clipping and distortion, much less at higher levels.

It's also strange thatyou say "0db" means nothing, yet that every amp can't play at that "volume setting" without clipping?
post #26 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by master0068 View Post

It's also strange thatyou say "0db" means nothing, yet that every amp can't play at that "volume setting" without clipping?

The problem is that your question was not well defined and the answers continue to miss the ill- stated point as well.

You and others keep referring to a "dB".

In that is your first problem.

There is no such 'thing' as a dB.

It is a ratio expressed in powers of 10.

Seeing as how you have not defined your terms - such as dB SPL, or dBV or dBfs, etc. Some have a defined and quantified reference value with units to which '0 db' is referenced. Some do not.

Without this, you are simply referring to an amorphously defined relationship of some magnitude related by powers of 10.

And as such "0 dB does mean nothing" - it means that it is at unity with something else, but we have no idea to what that level corresponds. And depending upon what that level may be, a piece of equipment may or may not be capable of handling it.

So now you get to go back and find out to what actual value or use the term "dB" was used in the original context, and then, once it is defined, THEN you can proceed to draw some meaningful conclusions as to the nature of the actual levels and the relationships to which it provides information.

Until then, this remains an ill formed question that leads to ill formed answers.
post #27 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by master0068 View Post

So? If I need to drive this amp at 0db to get the volume levels I need (my speakers aren't overly sensitive), that it probably isn't for me?
And I thought 0db was supposed to be equivalent to Reference Levels?

THere is a reference level for mixing movies. Most modern AVRs autocalibrate so that 0 means reference level. Reference level is not a loudness. The whispered dialog is not at 105 dB just because that's the max level for the calibration signal on a calibrated soundstage. the whispered dialog might be at 70 dB. hHe explosion might be at 102 dB, but they're both at reference.

for this purpose, reference is a setting for the system as a whole, from the player, through the preamp to the speakers to the listener. Just change to 3 dB less efficient speakers and the power required to play either the whisper or the explosion at reference doubles.

So AFAIK there's no such thing as driving an amp at 0 dB. WIthout any reference, it's meaningless. dB is a perefectly fine measurement system, but you have to start with "compared to what?" The level os one, or ten or a hundred dB sound pressure level is well defined. But we use dB in the electronic realm, too, where the "compared to what" becomes critical. An amp is not typically specified for a dB input (although I suppose you could refer it to dBv or dBu). Instead you'll see a spec for voltage to achieve max rated output. And you might see the gain described in dB, because the amount of gain doesn't need a reference: the input signal IS the reference. 20 dB of gain on a .5 volt signal gives you a 500 volt output. 3 dB of gain on a 1 volt input signal gives you a 2 volt output.
post #28 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by master0068 View Post

So? If I need to drive this amp at 0db to get the volume levels I need (my speakers aren't overly sensitive), that it probably isn't for me?

And I thought 0db was supposed to be equivalent to Reference Levels?

Given all the other givens already explained, it's fair to say that if you're driving 5 speakers at "0db" on your AVR, it's clipping. And assuming that's an AVR you're using, you probably could use a bigger amp to drive those speakers. If you have pre-outs on the AVR, you're set for adding a separate amp to take some of the load.

If you're looking for a simple explanation and solution to your perceived problem, there isn't one. The ultimate measure of the outcome is your ears. If you can listen at that level for an extended period with no "fatigue", then it doesn't matter how you got there. But if it doesn't sound clean and comfortable, clipping and distortion might be contributing. That assumes you haven't reached the limits of what those speakers are capable of. IMHO, a good match of speakers, power and quality music sources should result in a system that sounds better when pushed hard, not worse.
post #29 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

Given all the other givens already explained, it's fair to say that if you're driving 5 speakers at "0db" on your AVR, it's clipping. And assuming that's an AVR you're using, you probably could use a bigger amp to drive those speakers. If you have pre-outs on the AVR, you're set for adding a separate amp to take some of the load.
If you're looking for a simple explanation and solution to your perceived problem, there isn't one. The ultimate measure of the outcome is your ears. If you can listen at that level for an extended period with no "fatigue", then it doesn't matter how you got there. But if it doesn't sound clean and comfortable, clipping and distortion might be contributing. That assumes you haven't reached the limits of what those speakers are capable of. IMHO, a good match of speakers, power and quality music sources should result in a system that sounds better when pushed hard, not worse.

You may be onto something I could benefit from.

I just replaced an older Harman & Kardon AVR 235 with my new Denon AVR 1712.

Without going into it too much, how and would it be wise to use both? The Harman & Kardon doesn't support TrueHD decoding, but if I used the Denon as my main, the other would just be used as a Power Amp right?

I don't know much about using 2 amps, how would I go about settting up the 2nd amp? which channels? etc.?

Thanks,
post #30 of 50
Your Denon doesn't have pre-outs, so it's a moot question.

The HK AVR235 does appear to have pre-outs, but the Denon has no M-ch pre-ins. Bottom line - there's no way to use them together.

If you're listening comfortably as-is, don't sweat it.
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