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post #1 of 68 Old 07-16-2019, 01:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Yamaha A-S501 full power

I'm trying to find out what position on the volume knob is approximately full power (with tone & loudness flat/off,I know it varies slightly with input). In the old days it was around 11 o'clock, is that still true? I asked Yamaha customer support and they said "full power is when the volume control is turned all the way to the right". Yeah.....right. Any help???
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post #2 of 68 Old 07-16-2019, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by sofast1 View Post
I asked Yamaha customer support and they said "full power is when the volume control is turned all the way to the right". Yeah.....right. Any help???
Makes sense.


Why is this important?


EDIT:
In the old days, if you turned the volume control to 12:00 and it got louder.... where did the additional power come from?



If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein

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post #3 of 68 Old 07-16-2019, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post
Makes sense.


Why is this important?


EDIT:
In the old days, if you turned the volume control to 12:00 and it got louder.... where did the additional power come from?
In the "old days" full power was around 11 o'clock on the volume knob. Going past that didn't increase the volume, it increased the distortion. Keep going and you're clipping the amp, potentially harming the amp and your speakers. Old habits are hard to break and I just can't turn that volume knob to 3 o'clock. Has volume control technology changed? That volume control is motorized, it’s also electronic – a resistor-ladder type control with resistors switched in and out of circuit by the A-S501’s microcontroller as the analogue potentiometer is operated. This method, also used in Yamaha’s top of the range A-S3000, and they say it results in far greater accuracy at low volumes, better channel balance, and less crosstalk between the left and right channels. Does that mean full power is at a different point on the knob? I was hoping to hear from other A-S501 owners.......

You're wondering why I'm asking....... I use 2 integrated amps to drive my rear speakers and center speaker in my HT. The volume on the integrateds are set/fixed and the system is level balanced through the pre-amp/processor (with a sound level meter), and that controls system volume as well. I had 2 NAD C370's and replaced them with 2 A-S501's. The NAD's volume controls were set at 11 o'clock. With the Yammys at 11 o'clock the levels in the P/P have to be turned way up to balance the system. In other words, I'd have to turn the Yammy's past 1-2 o'clock to get the volume the NAD's had at 11 o'clock. I'd like to hear from others before I try that.

In case you were wondering, rears are Boston HD7's, center is B&W HTM62. Fronts are B&W 683's driven by Sumo Polaris II mono blocks. Subs are 2 Rythmik F15HP's. In a 10x14 room!

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post #4 of 68 Old 07-16-2019, 02:55 PM
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In the old and new days... your amp only has a finite amount of power. The power required to obtain a volume level is dependent upon the amp's specified power capabilities, the type of the speakers being driven, speaker wire and lengths, etc.
If you're fortunate, someone else will help you out. Good luck.



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Depends on your speaker. For example you can get 106db on 1 watt w/a Klipsch La Scala. You can even run it w/a headphone amp. I doubt you'd get to 11:00 w/these speakers.
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post #6 of 68 Old 07-16-2019, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post
In the old and new days... your amp only has a finite amount of power. The power required to obtain a volume level is dependent upon the amp's specified power capabilities, the type of the speakers being driven, speaker wire and lengths, etc.
If you're fortunate, someone else will help you out. Good luck.
Exactly! When you're at that finite amount of power the resulting volume will be determined by the efficiency and design of your speakers (and wire etc.). I want to know (approximately) at what position on the volume knob does that finite amount of power happen. I'm not asking about volume levels, I'm asking about power output. Two different things. If I only had an oscilloscope..... Hook your amp up to one, run a sine wave, turn the volume up slowly and watch. You'll see when full power occurs. It's not when the knob is turned all the way.
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What amp(s)?
What rated power?
What speakers?
What are the size/type/specs?
How "loud" is necessary?


They all need to be taken into account. There is no "one answer fits all".
I.E. Always stay below 12:00, never go above 1:00.
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post #8 of 68 Old 07-16-2019, 05:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post
What amp(s)?
What rated power?
What speakers?
What are the size/type/specs?
How "loud" is necessary?


They all need to be taken into account. There is no "one answer fits all".
I.E. Always stay below 12:00, never go above 1:00.
No, none of those apply. Has nothing to do with"how loud". We're not testing speakers. It doesn't matter what the rated power is, I'm asking when it occurs. If your amp is rated at 100 watts/ch., how far do you have to turn the volume knob to get 100 watts/ch? 1/3 way? 1/2 way? 3/4 way? 'Til the knob stops? That's what I'm asking. How loud it can/will get depends on the power handling and efficiency of the speaker, not the amp and that's not what I'm asking. You can substitute any number for the "100" in the 2 places above and the question remains the same. There's a point where any amp puts out full rated power, I'm just asking where that point (on the vol knob) is. Not looking for an exact spot, as I mentioned before that varies a bit with input, not speakers. Without a scope, technically, there's no way of knowing. I was hoping someone would say "yeah, I run mine at 3 o'clock all the time" or just tell me how far they've turned theirs up. Or maybe explain that amp and volume control technology has changed and it's o.k. to turn them up that high now.
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Originally Posted by sofast1 View Post
No, none of those apply. Has nothing to do with"how loud". We're not testing speakers. It doesn't matter what the rated power is, I'm asking when it occurs. If your amp is rated at 100 watts/ch., how far do you have to turn the volume knob to get 100 watts/ch? 1/3 way? 1/2 way? 3/4 way? 'Til the knob stops? That's what I'm asking. How loud it can/will get depends on the power handling and efficiency of the speaker, not the amp and that's not what I'm asking. You can substitute any number for the "100" in the 2 places above and the question remains the same. There's a point where any amp puts out full rated power, I'm just asking where that point (on the vol knob) is. Not looking for an exact spot, as I mentioned before that varies a bit with input, not speakers. Without a scope, technically, there's no way of knowing. I was hoping someone would say "yeah, I run mine at 3 o'clock all the time" or just tell me how far they've turned theirs up. Or maybe explain that amp and volume control technology has changed and it's o.k. to turn them up that high now.
Remember when amps had strips of lights and VU meters to show power output? I'm showing my age now. You never had to turn the volume up very far to light 'em all up or pin the meters.
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If a dial position determined "full power" on all amps, wouldn't the volume control be calibrated to output full power at "full right" position or stop at 12:00 on all amps?
Full power changes based on speaker types, input sources, and demand based on the music/material.



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post #11 of 68 Old 07-17-2019, 05:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post
If a dial position determined "full power" on all amps, wouldn't the volume control be calibrated to output full power at "full right" position or stop at 12:00 on all amps?
Full power changes based on speaker types, input sources, and demand based on the music/material.
The full power position can be anywhere the manufacturer wants it to be. That's what I'm trying to determine. It does not change based on speaker types, input sources, and demand based on the music/material. The amount of power an amp can put out is not determined by the speaker connected to it or the music you play through it. Those will affect the sound level, not power output. When a tech specs out an amp all he uses is a signal generator and an oscilloscope. No music, no speakers. I sold audio equipment for over 30 years when audio stores had a service dept. I can't count the times I've watch a tech put an amp on the bench and spec it out after a repair.
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Okay... it's been fun. Apparently you have a predetermination that cannot be altered. That's okay.
Sorry I couldn't help.



If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein
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post #13 of 68 Old 07-17-2019, 07:04 AM
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You asked!

That depends on the gain of the amplifier and the maximum voltage the incoming signal can be before the amp clips. This is what those techs do when they bench test things--the specifications should be in the technical manual when the output/input stages are calibrated.

The issue with consumer gear is what is the incoming voltage? As you might have noticed, that depends if it is a record player, tape deck, CD player, iPod, phone or whatever it connected to the receiver. Throw in that some equipment does not have the same voltage output this throws off the "maximum power" setting. Now throw in phones that get qired in with variable volume controls and they generally don't have a very strong signal so you really have to crank the volume up to hear them.

It also depends on the impedance of the speaker and how linear the amplifier operates under different impedances. Not many receivers will put out exactly twice as much power into 4 ohms as 8 ohms or exactly half as much into 16 ohms as 8 ohms. Generally speaking, if you run a 4 ohm load on a receiver it will clip sooner than using an 8 ohm speaker. Could be 1 or 2 dB sooner--so impedance IS a factor.

Now throw in that the music is not calibrated in any way, shape or form---some recordings are very soft and low level (older mucic very much so) and then you throw in heavily compressed dance/pop music and it will blow your head off. This is simple to understand, load up a CD changer and letter rip--you can all sorts of different volume levels without changing anything. This has a HUGE effect on what "maximum power" is and that final factor makes somehow setting a maximum power output setting on the knob impossible.

I feel your pain! Think of how annoying that would be for night clubs, DJ's, anyone that plays prerecorded music in buildings the world over. Trust me, there is not "maximum power" setting on a knob! Of course, for the pro sound folks they cheat and have signal meters on the mixiers AND power output/clip lights on the amplifiers. I'll give you an example.

In my garage, I have a sound system that uses line arrays/subs and four channels of amplification (2.2) I use THREE different amplifiers in the garage, a basic chip amp in the winter (Dec to Feb) a studio amplifier for the rest of the time and when/if I go to block party mode--a PA amplifier with fan cooling for high heat summer sessions. The thing is in my garage and I help friends with fixing/overhauling or building speakers, repairing various equipment and so on. I don't use record players or tape decks but will fix/clean them on occasion so need inputs that will take anything AND I want to adjust them to 0dB "unity" to not overdrive/clip the amps.

To do this correctly--I use a club mixer. Say I plug in a cell phone which has really low output from the headphone jack--there are input meters on the mixer. At the top is the gain knobs and in the center are gain sliders--adjust the gain knobs to get the signal up to 0dB on the input meters and the gain sliders to "7" (it is marked) and the output meters of the mixer should be at 0dB. Then adjust the gains on the amplifier to hit 0dB and you have "max power". What I do is give it a bit more cushion, I adjust the inputs to 0dB, the outputs to 0dB but calibrate the amp to -3dB on the power lights when fed that 0dB signal. I run the signal "a little hot" you could say. This way if the red 0dB lights hit on the mixer, I'm not clipping my amplifier yet.

If I am full rockstar mode, I switch the studio amp out for a PA amp. I adjust the maximum power of the PA amp down to protect the speakers (and my hearing) with an adjustable limiter in software. This way I can easily find "maximum power" because it will fire the very bright red limiter light to let you know you are maxing out. My sub amps I only care about if they are in heavy cllipping, my subs are much more resistant to abuse by design.

Recently, I had a cassette tape deck, pro CD player, cell phone and laptop connected through the USB input on the mixer. To get all those sources accurate and level required quite different gain levels on the mixer--the nature of the beast. I do adjust the sliders to different levels in the recordings as the party wears on.

This sure would be easy if we could just "Ronco" it....set it and forget it! Alas, with all the different coltage levels for all the different sources and manufactuers--throw in speaker impedance variations it creates too much variance. Lastly, the music you are playing can be recorded at very quiet to heavily compressed loudness war levels so imposible to have a one size fits all.

As I mentioned, on the pro side (or the receivers from the 60's to early 80's) they would have power output meters and clip lights to let you know what max power was. If you don't have those, you are screwed. If your consumer gear has a pre-amp out, you can get say a studio amp that has power output/clip lights and you will know what is going on. My first receiver was an old one my brothers blew up--I fixed the thing and it had power output/clip lights on the receiver I became spoiled by this and ALL my amplifiers I've purchased since have power output meters or at a mimimum, a clip light. My chip amp lets me know when it is overloading by muting iteslf once the power supply starts dropping voltage--although the chip amp is not for crank them up contests.

For AVRs, I set up the calibration for the thing and there are different output levels for each speaker channel. My L/R use 1dB more output than my center and my surrounds are -5dB or so--very different from what "max power" is. This fullly depends on your room acoustics, your listening position, the impedance of the speakers and so on during calibration/set up. I set the limiter in the AVR to +1dB or 106dB at the listening position. My sons can come over and turn the knob as far as it can go and it still stops at that level. It is not clipping my AVR (less than 40 watts at any channel required) so no worries. I don't "need" clip lights in that case, but for the rock star party in the street mode for the garage system I want all the information I can get!

Think of power output lights/clip lights as the tachometer for amplifiers. I can easily run and shift a manual transmission without a tach but when it is race day, I want a tach! Sure, I can "do it by ear" to listen for the engine screaming but I'll take a tach any day! I have no idea why consumer gear has eliminated power lights/clip lights--probably cost and they are not pretty to most people. How many "audiophile" amps have you seen with no power lights and no clip lights? This tells me that they prefer form over function so I avoid them like the plague.

You CAN hook up a club mixer to your gear and ask Yamaha what approximate setting on the volume knob is unity--they might tell you that. Set the knob to that setting (or a click under it) and make sure the mixer output meters don't go past 0dB output levels. A bit extreme but if you really want to know.... If I reallly worried about it, I'd just connect an outboard power amplifier that has power meters/clip lights so you actually KNOW what it is doing. It is better to test, not guess. If you are worried about "full power" because you want to use your gear in rockstar party mode--best to use a more beefy pro sound type amp to handle high power levels at max load. Passive cooling can only take so much heat so use the correct rig for the gig to prevent blowing things up.

EDIT! They used to make processor boxes called "Auto Gain Controls" that would automatically adjust the signal levels to prevent clipping etc. and they had meters on them to let you know what they were doing. Technically, you could wire that into the processor loop of your gear and set it up to never go past a specific point. Then test it with a scope on your outputs and determine when the amp clips with your speakers. Mark that setting and you are almost there. Be aware that AGC's are not lab grade accurate as they were commonly used with microphones etc. for sound studios used in live radio shows etc. Not exactly how I would do it, I find an outboard amp with clip lights to be the better option but just something else to throw out there to keep things clear as mud.

Good luck and happy to add to the confusion.
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Last edited by 18Hurts; 07-17-2019 at 08:27 AM.
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post #14 of 68 Old 07-17-2019, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 18Hurts View Post
You asked!

That depends on the gain of the amplifier and the maximum voltage the incoming signal can be before the amp clips. This is what those techs do when they bench test things--the specifications should be in the technical manual when the output/input stages are calibrated.

The issue with consumer gear is what is the incoming voltage? As you might have noticed, that depends if it is a record player, tape deck, CD player, iPod, phone or whatever it connected to the receiver. Throw in that some equipment does not have the same voltage output this throws off the "maximum power" setting. Now throw in phones that get qired in with variable volume controls and they generally don't have a very strong signal so you really have to crank the volume up to hear them.

It also depends on the impedance of the speaker and how linear the amplifier operates under different impedances. Not many receivers will put out exactly twice as much power into 4 ohms as 8 ohms or exactly half as much into 16 ohms as 8 ohms. Generally speaking, if you run a 4 ohm load on a receiver it will clip sooner than using an 8 ohm speaker. Could be 1 or 2 dB sooner--so impedance IS a factor.

Now throw in that the music is not calibrated in any way, shape or form---some recordings are very soft and low level (older mucic very much so) and then you throw in heavily compressed dance/pop music and it will blow your head off. This is simple to understand, load up a CD changer and letter rip--you can all sorts of different volume levels without changing anything. This has a HUGE effect on what "maximum power" is and that final factor makes somehow setting a maximum power output setting on the knob impossible.

I feel your pain! Think of how annoying that would be for night clubs, DJ's, anyone that plays prerecorded music in buildings the world over. Trust me, there is not "maximum power" setting on a knob! Of course, for the pro sound folks they cheat and have signal meters on the mixiers AND power output/clip lights on the amplifiers. I'll give you an example.

In my garage, I have a sound system that uses line arrays/subs and four channels of amplification (2.2) I use THREE different amplifiers in the garage, a basic chip amp in the winter (Dec to Feb) a studio amplifier for the rest of the time and when/if I go to block party mode--a PA amplifier with fan cooling for high heat summer sessions. The thing is in my garage and I help friends with fixing/overhauling or building speakers, repairing various equipment and so on. I don't use record players or tape decks but will fix/clean them on occasion so need inputs that will take anything AND I want to adjust them to 0dB "unity" to not overdrive/clip the amps.

To do this correctly--I use a club mixer. Say I plug in a cell phone which has really low output from the headphone jack--there are input meters on the mixer. At the top is the gain knobs and in the center are gain sliders--adjust the gain knobs to get the signal up to 0dB on the input meters and the gain sliders to "7" (it is marked) and the output meters of the mixer should be at 0dB. Then adjust the gains on the amplifier to hit 0dB and you have "max power". What I do is give it a bit more cushion, I adjust the inputs to 0dB, the outputs to 0dB but calibrate the amp to -3dB on the power lights when fed that 0dB signal. I run the signal "a little hot" you could say. This way if the red 0dB lights hit on the mixer, I'm not clipping my amplifier yet.

If I am full rockstar mode, I switch the studio amp out for a PA amp. I adjust the maximum power of the PA amp down to protect the speakers (and my hearing) with an adjustable limiter in software. This way I can easily find "maximum power" because it will fire the very bright red limiter light to let you know you are maxing out. My sub amps I only care about if they are in heavy cllipping, my subs are much more resistant to abuse by design.

Recently, I had a cassette tape deck, pro CD player, cell phone and laptop connected through the USB input on the mixer. To get all those sources accurate and level required quite different gain levels on the mixer--the nature of the beast. I do adjust the sliders to different levels in the recordings as the party wears on.

This sure would be easy if we could just "Ronco" it....set it and forget it! Alas, with all the different coltage levels for all the different sources and manufactuers--throw in speaker impedance variations it creates too much variance. Lastly, the music you are playing can be recorded at very quiet to heavily compressed loudness war levels so imposible to have a one size fits all.

As I mentioned, on the pro side (or the receivers from the 60's to early 80's) they would have power output meters and clip lights to let you know what max power was. If you don't have those, you are screwed. If your consumer gear has a pre-amp out, you can get say a studio amp that has power output/clip lights and you will know what is going on. My first receiver was an old one my brothers blew up--I fixed the thing and it had power output/clip lights on the receiver I became spoiled by this and ALL my amplifiers I've purchased since have power output meters or at a mimimum, a clip light. My chip amp lets me know when it is overloading by muting iteslf once the power supply starts dropping voltage--although the chip amp is not for crank them up contests.

For AVRs, I set up the calibration for the thing and there are different output levels for each speaker channel. My L/R use 1dB more output than my center and my surrounds are -5dB or so--very different from what "max power" is. This fullly depends on your room acoustics, your listening position, the impedance of the speakers and so on during calibration/set up. I set the limiter in the AVR to +1dB or 106dB at the listening position. My sons can come over and turn the knob as far as it can go and it still stops at that level. It is not clipping my AVR (less than 40 watts at any channel required) so no worries. I don't "need" clip lights in that case, but for the rock star party in the street mode for the garage system I want all the information I can get!

Think of power output lights/clip lights as the tachometer for amplifiers. I can easily run and shift a manual transmission without a tach but when it is race day, I want a tach! Sure, I can "do it by ear" to listen for the engine screaming but I'll take a tach any day! I have no idea why consumer gear has eliminated power lights/clip lights--probably cost and they are not pretty to most people. How many "audiophile" amps have you seen with no power lights and no clip lights? This tells me that they prefer form over function so I avoid them like the plague.

You CAN hook up a club mixer to your gear and ask Yamaha what approximate setting on the volume knob is unity--they might tell you that. Set the knob to that setting (or a click under it) and make sure the mixer output meters don't go past 0dB output levels. A bit extreme but if you really want to know.... If I reallly worried about it, I'd just connect an outboard power amplifier that has power meters/clip lights so you actually KNOW what it is doing. It is better to test, not guess. If you are worried about "full power" because you want to use your gear in rockstar party mode--best to use a more beefy pro sound type amp to handle high power levels at max load. Passive cooling can only take so much heat so use the correct rig for the gig to prevent blowing things up.

EDIT! They used to make processor boxes called "Auto Gain Controls" that would automatically adjust the signal levels to prevent clipping etc. and they had meters on them to let you know what they were doing. Technically, you could wire that into the processor loop of your gear and set it up to never go past a specific point. Then test it with a scope on your outputs and determine when the amp clips with your speakers. Mark that setting and you are almost there. Be aware that AGC's are not lab grade accurate as they were commonly used with microphones etc. for sound studios used in live radio shows etc. Not exactly how I would do it, I find an outboard amp with clip lights to be the better option but just something else to throw out there to keep things clear as mud.

Good luck and happy to add to the confusion.
You're right, a set of accurate lights or meters would tell me what I want to know. The problem I have is that I'm replacing a 20 year old integrated amp with a new one. In order to get the same sound level that the old one had when the volume knob was at 11 o'clock I'll have to turn the new one to 2-3 o'clock. Being "old school" I'm hesitant to do that. I know the new volume control has new & different technology (the volume control is motorized, it’s also electronic – a resistor-ladder type control with resistors switched in and out of circuit by the A-S501’s microcontroller as the analogue potentiometer is operated. This method, is also used in Yamaha’s top of the range A-S3000, and they say it results in far greater accuracy at low volumes, better channel balance, and less crosstalk between the left and right channels.) but I don't know if that affects where full power/clipping is on the knob setting. I was hoping some other A-S501 owners (or any other "new" integrated amp owners) would tell me the max where they've set their volume control. Of course that will depend on speakers, room size etc., I'm just wondering if anybody runs their volume past 12 0'clock & how far past. Does anybody regularly run their integrated amp at 2-3 o'clock? That's all I want to know. Seemed like a simple question.....

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post #15 of 68 Old 07-17-2019, 11:15 AM
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Yamaha A-S501 full power

Afaik from what ive read those who use integrated amps as power-amps the same way you do turn the volume up to whatever is needed for the auto calibration on the reciever/processor to set it around 0 +- a few dB reference level adjustment. Which will put them at the same levels as power-amps.
When that amp will start clipping in normal use depends on the volume you play at with your speakers in your room.

Edit: P.S. If you set the integrated volume knob too low and need a big +dB reference level adjustment you might start clipping the pre out signal from the processor/reciever instead.


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Do you think it's o.k. to turn the vol. knob to 3 o'clock and leave it there? Input level is +5 on a -10 to +10 scale. Ran the old amp at 11 o'clock for years with same input. I didn't expect there to be such a big difference. Power output of new amp is 85w, old one was 120w. Using it to drive Boston HD7's, a small 7" 2 way 8 ohm bookshelf speaker in a small room. Actually overkill for rear speakers, but I like overkill (400w mono blocks for mains).

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Do you think it's o.k. to turn the vol. knob to 3 o'clock and leave it there? Input level is +5 on a -10 to +10 scale. Ran the old amp at 11 o'clock for years with same input. I didn't expect there to be such a big difference. Power output of new amp is 85w, old one was 120w. Using it to drive Boston HD7's, a small 7" 2 way 8 ohm bookshelf speaker in a small room. Actually overkill for rear speakers, but I like overkill (400w mono blocks for mains).


You should be able to increase it a little more even to get closer to 0dB but if you are more comfortable this way that is fine. It would be much easier with a pure power amp.
I dont know about your integrated’s volume control but many modern ones are logarithmic to give a lot more control at low volumes but that means for higher volumes the knobs will be turned more to get the same dB as older types.

You can never have too much power (even if only playing at fairly low/moderate volumes) i use an old 125w parasound for my surrounds, works nicely.


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Originally Posted by Leeliemix View Post
You should be able to increase it a little more even to get closer to 0dB but if you are more comfortable this way that is fine. It would be much easier with a pure power amp.
I dont know about your integrated’s volume control but many modern ones are logarithmic to give a lot more control at low volumes but that means for higher volumes the knobs will be turned more to get the same dB as older types.

You can never have too much power (even if only playing at fairly low/moderate volumes) i use an old 125w parasound for my surrounds, works nicely.


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You may be on to something there about the logarithmic vol. control, I have to do more investigating. I agree about the power levels. Most people think the point of having a lot of watts is increased volume levels, when it's really about reduced distortion.
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Update: I did some research about logarithmic volume controls and if the new one is and the old one isn't that would explain everything! I sent emails to Yamaha and NAD asking if their volume controls were logarithmic. Stay tuned................

Update #2 ; look what I found; https://techsupport.cambridgeaudio.c...Volume-Control

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I'm trying to find out what position on the volume knob is approximately full power (with tone & loudness flat/off,I know it varies slightly with input). In the old days it was around 11 o'clock, is that still true? I asked Yamaha customer support and they said "full power is when the volume control is turned all the way to the right". Yeah.....right. Any help???
The question isn't - whether you realize it or not - what is full power, but rather - what is reasonable volume?

There is a point where peaks exceed full power, and that happens much lower than you might think, though it will depend on the type and dynamics of the music. In short, ...peaks exceed full power... is where clipping beings but it may not be noticeable. The higher you go above that, the more clipping there will be.

At about 11 o'clock you will exceed full power in the sense that clipping on peaks will begin. For a completely secondary reason, I measure the output of my speaker at different positions of the volume control using a Yamaha RX-797 100w/ch Stereo Receiver -

9 o'clock = 75dB
10 o'clock = 85db
11 o'clock = 90db
12 o'clock = 94db
1 o'clock = 98db

This is with some fairly large and efficient speakers. And this was with music, not broadband Pink Noise. Also, though it should be obvious, the reading are average not peak.

You could generalize and say that 1 o'clock is 100db, and that is LOUD! Do you really need to be playing that loud? I think, for loud play, I am typically in the 11 o'clock to 12 o'clock range, on drunken smoke filled nights on rare occasion I might run up to 1 o'clock, but that is really pushing it. At 2 o'clock and above is nothing but danger and distortion, you should never go over this amount assuming normal source equipment and normal speakers. At 1 o'clock up to 2 o'clock you have pretty significant Clipping on the peaks. There is absolutely not point in going above that.

Also keep mind that there is a Square factor as you turn the volume up. Up +3db on the high end of the dial is a huge cascade in the power, whereas +3db on the low end of the dial is a small change in actual power. Every time the sound increased +3db, the power doubles. Keep that is mind, when you are already loud and try to squeeze that last little bit out of the speaker, the power jumps by a huge amount.

Let's take a fairly common 87dB rated Sensitivity speaker, and start ramping the volume control up -

87db = 1w
90db = 2w
93db = 4w
96db = 8w
99db = 16w
102db = 32w
105dB = 64w (this is in the range of the physical limit of most speakers)
108db = 128w
111db = 256w

You can see the massive cascade of power in those last few nudges of the Volume Control upwards.

At higher volumes the clipping will increase. When you exceed the Power Supply Voltage, the Peak Signal is literally chopped off at the the top and bottom. The higher you go, the more that is chopped off, and the longer the output stays at full Power Supply Voltage. That build up a lot of heat in the Voice Coil.

Then there is the matter of the Excursion of the many drivers. They are physically suspended, they can only move just so far. If you try to push them father than they can physically go, there is a chance you will push the Voice Coil out of the Voice Coil slot, and there is no guarantee that at those high volume will will accurately fall back into the slot. Even if the Voice Coil does not come out of the slot, you can push the speaker so hard the Voice Coil shape distorts causing it to rub, and that can cause a short, and that can melt the Voice Coil destroying the Driver.

The next factor is TIME, you might be able to over-voltage a given driver for a few seconds, but if you sustain those high levels for a significant period of time, heat can build up in the Voice Coil to the point where the insulating lacquer melts again shorting the Voice Coil and damaging the Driver. I can think of one example that I personally experienced, where a person had bought a new driver for a guitar amp. We tested it out, it worked good, but then we decided to leave, and out of laziness we left the amp on. We went and came back later, and the Guitar/Amp had developed a low level feedback loop, it wasn't very loud but it sustained at the level for over an hour. When we got back the speaker was buzzing and the Voice Coil was damaged. Again, even a low level steady tone sustained over time can cause enough heat to build up to destroy a drive. Now, realistically, more dynamic music that ebbs and flows has time to dissipate some of that heat. But the potential is still there to destroy speaker with TIME.

The real secret to using your equipment safely is to have an understanding of the reasonable limits of the equipment, especially the speakers, and to have the discipline to not exceed those limits.

It is never over-powered or under-powered amps that blow speakers, it is always the guy running the Volume Control. Don't be that guy, and don't let your drunken ham-fisted friends be that guy.

In my opinion, given the Volume Level I have experienced and measured, there is absolutely not need to every go over about 1 o'clock on a standard Analog Volume Control. If you do, then you do so at your peril.

Again, the way to maintain the safety of your speakers it to have a common sense understanding of the reasonable limits of those speakers. In several decades of playing music, and even through my hard core party days, I have NEVER blown a speaker ... because I understood the reasonable limits of my speakers. On one of my systems, I am using 60w speakers on a 100w/ch amp, and still don't have a problem, because I stay within the bounds of reason.

.... don't be that guy....

For what it is worth.

Steve/bluewizard

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Update: I did some research about logarithmic volume controls and if the new one is and the old one isn't that would explain everything! I sent emails to Yamaha and NAD asking if their volume controls were logarithmic. Stay tuned................

Update #2 ; look what I found; https://techsupport.cambridgeaudio.c...Volume-Control
Most Analog Volume Controls are a Reverse Audio Taper, which if I recall is a slightly modified reverse logarithmic taper. Most of the volume comes in the beginning of the volume control, and the change is softer on the high end where changes in volume cause huge cascades on the Power level.

Modern Digital Volume Controls seem to have no Taper. My Analog Volume Control Amp was modest but pleasant at 9 o'clock. My Digital Volume Control Amp comes on at 45% where the volume is soft enough to not be usable, and typical play is in the 70% to 80% range. To some extend half the Volume Control range on a Digital Volume Control does nothing, you have to be over 50% to be remotely functional.

http://www.potentiometers.com/potcomFAQ.cfm?FAQID=29

"The next most popular curve would be the reverse audio taper also known as a reverse log, reverse z, or depending on the manufacturer, and A or B. Determining if you have a reverse audio taper is basically the same as an audio except the result would be the inverse; i.e. for a 10% reverse audio taper, you would see a measurement of 90% of the total resistance at the midpoint of the shaft rotation."

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@bluewizard a lot of good information in those posts but hes trying to use the integrated amp only as a power-amp for center/surrounds with another reciever/processor controlling everything.


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post #23 of 68 Old 07-17-2019, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
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@bluewizard a lot of good information in those posts but hes trying to use the integrated amp only as a power-amp for center/surrounds with another reciever/processor controlling everything.


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Good to know somebody understands what I'm asking. Always a good idea to read the whole thread before..... Anyway, I think you solved the mystery (to me)! It is all about the linear vs. logarithmic volume control. One look at that graph and I knew. You've taught an old dog (retired from the audio biz 15 years ago) a new trick! Btw, the reason I'm using this ??? set-up is because I did a substantial HT install for a dealer and he said he would send me two power amps as payment. Surprise! Two A-S510's at my door.
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@bluewizard a lot of good information in those posts but hes trying to use the integrated amp only as a power-amp for center/surrounds with another reciever/processor controlling everything. ...
What is the controlling device? An AV Receiver? An AV Pre-Amp/Processor?

I have a second Stereo Amp pre-amp to my main amp to drive a second set of speakers. Generally the volume control is in the roughly 11 o'clock to just a trace over 12 o'clock position. But to get the second amp to be in balance with the first amp, I simply set the volume so the two speakers are equal in loudness. Though that might not be so easy in a AV Set up.

As I noted in that range (11 o'clock to 12 o'clock) the volume is 90db to 95db range using a common and standard input which is well above the 85db Reference that represents 0DB on the volume read out of a typical AV Receiver. Measured using a Yamaha Stereo Receiver.

So, if he just wants a general volume setting, and assuming standard Analog Volume Controls, then setting the amps in the rough 11 o'clock to 12 o'clock range THEN running the AV Amp SetUp program should balance things out. The AV Receiver/Pre-Amp will adjust the volume so the speakers are balanced relative to each other.

If that is not possible, if you have something other than a standard AV Receiver/Processor on the front end, you will have to balance the channels in the listening position using some type of SPL/Sound Level Meter.

This could potentially be as simple as an App for a Smart Phone -

https://play.google.com/store/search...+meters&c=apps

Should you choose to go the Smart Phone App method, there are calibration grade microphones for Smart Phones -

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ADR2B84...I2YCI55FJATCP8

Or an actual calibrated SPL/Sound Level Meter -

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=sound+lev...f=nb_sb_noss_2

These two seem to have some appeal -

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NYVLCM5/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N2RLJ32...d=IQ16Y059OGGX

I think your original thinking was on the right track. Set the Volume Control in the roughly 11 o'clock to 12 o'clock range, and let then AV Receiver/Pre-Amp make minor adjustments to the individual channel volumes in the SetUp program.

I'm not sure what the individual channel range is in the Setup Program (±6db, ±10db, ±12db?) but you can make minor tweaks to the amp volume should the results be out of range.

The OP seem overly worried about Power, what he needs to be concerned with is Working Volume. The Stereo Amp need to be set in a range that gives the controlling AVR access to sufficient volume to balance a given speaker with other speakers relative to the Prime Seating Position. Several people, including myself and including yourself, have indicated that this will be roughly 11 o'clock to 12 o'clock position on the dial. Then once set, the precise tuning will be done by the AV Receiver/Processor. 11/12 o'clock is in excess of 0db on the AVR volume read out, so you have more than enough room to work with. Keeping in mind the AVR will adjust the INPUT LEVELS to the amp to achieve the volume it needs.

Steve/bluewizard

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I'm a little bit smarter now..............

Well, I finally heard from Yamaha and Leeliemix you hit the nail on the head. The volume control on the A-S501 is logarithmic. I never heard from NAD, but as the C370 is 17 years old, I'll assume it has a linear volume control. That explains why the volume knob on the Yamaha has to be turned a lot more than the one on the NAD to reach the same power output. Many thanks to Leeliemix, Ratman, Class A, and 18Hurts for trying to help. bluewizzard, you never got that all I was asking was where full power was on the Yamaha volume knob so I didn't exceed it. I didn't want to find out the hard way,but thanks for the history of audio anyhow. It had nothing to do with volume/sound listening levels as that's controlled by the pre-amp/processor as noted. I probably could have been clearer about that at the start but I tried to explain what I was after as the thread went on. This question was initially prompted because at the same position the NAD was a lot louder that the Yamaha. I guess the lesson learned is that 3 o'clock is the new 11 o'clock as the Yamaha guy said that all their amps & avrs use logarithmic volume controls and I suspect all the other mfg.s do too now. And I laughed when the Yamaha guy first said that full power was when the knob was turned all the way............... Thanks again guys!!!

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I'll just add that your question has too many variables to be answered. At the most basic, it depends on the level of the input, as in, the output level of your source component. People tend to think "power" is the same as "Gain". Gain is how much the signal is increased from input to output, and power is how loud you can play without distortion. Oh, but that's the same thing, Right? No it isn't. For instance, if your source component has a low output, you'll have to "turn it up further" aka: apply more gain, to reach maximum output of the amps. That also means that the volume level will be higher than with a different source that is outputting a higher signal when played back at the same power output. the volume control will be at different levels, meaning a different amount of gain has been applied, but the same volume level (aka: Power) is used.



As far as "the good old days" in those not so good days, manufacturers made the second (higher) half of the volume control meaningless by having a very steep curve in the first half, because then people would say "Look how powerful this is!! It's only turned up 1/4 of the way and the walls are shaking!!" Well, again, that's gain, not power. I know I'll get a lot of blowback about this, but someone will (hopefully) also chime in to confirm what I'm saying. You've already touched on that a little...
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Power output of new amp is 85w, old one was 120w.
That also could account for a 3:00 vs. 11:00 of the knob to achieve the same desired gain/volume/balance.


Glad you got an answer from the Yamaha folks. (Hopefully the NAD folks won't come back and say the same! )



If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein
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That last response perfectly illustrates how common it is to misunderstand what power is. You already discovered an important factor, which is the attentuation curve of the volume control. The previous post is assuming power and gain are the same thing. They aren't. If an amp has more power, that doesn't mean it has more gain. It could have lower gain. For example, every amp Emotiva makes, from a 50 wpc distribution amp to their big 2 kilowatt monoblock has the exact same gain. 29dB. So if you swap those two amps and everything else is the same, a certain volume control setting will play back at the same volume level. The monoblock will just have mo headroom, and you'll be able to turn it up further.
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I'll just add that your question has too many variables to be answered. At the most basic, it depends on the level of the input, as in, the output level of your source component. People tend to think "power" is the same as "Gain". Gain is how much the signal is increased from input to output, and power is how loud you can play without distortion. Oh, but that's the same thing, Right? No it isn't. For instance, if your source component has a low output, you'll have to "turn it up further" aka: apply more gain, to reach maximum output of the amps. That also means that the volume level will be higher than with a different source that is outputting a higher signal when played back at the same power output. the volume control will be at different levels, meaning a different amount of gain has been applied, but the same volume level (aka: Power) is used.



As far as "the good old days" in those not so good days, manufacturers made the second (higher) half of the volume control meaningless by having a very steep curve in the first half, because then people would say "Look how powerful this is!! It's only turned up 1/4 of the way and the walls are shaking!!" Well, again, that's gain, not power. I know I'll get a lot of blowback about this, but someone will (hopefully) also chime in to confirm what I'm saying. You've already touched on that a little...
No it doesn't. The volume control was the variable. Input sensitivity is the same on both amps, output level is the same from the pre-amp/processor, power difference is negligible, same speakers. Again, this shows it all;
https://techsupport.cambridgeaudio.c...Volume-Control
In the "good old days" all the volume controls were linear. Now all the volume controls are logarithmic. New tech(to me) and I learned something new! That's why I said the old 11 o'clock is now 3 o'clock. Just look at the graph. I do agree that a lot of folks don't understand the terms power,gain, loudness,volume and the relationship between them. If you read the whole thread you'd know that I do and I have over 30 years in the audio biz (starting full time in 1974). I admitted I'm an old dog. No offense meant and I do appreciate the help but why can't people just answer a question without a lecture?

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... bluewizard, you never got that all I was asking was where full power was on the Yamaha volume knob so I didn't exceed it. ....
I did get it and pointed out that it is not about Power, it is about Volume and setting the Volume Control at a reasonable working range.

Also, at least not that I saw, you never told us what the Controlling Device was. Since you have multiple speakers we assume it is some variation of a AV Receiver.

When you add a Subwoofer to an AV system, you don't set the Volume with the Subwoofer and you don't worry abut Power. You set the volume control high enough so it is in the working range of the trim abilities of the AV Receiver. I would speculate Half Volume to about 2/3rds Volume would accomplish that. Then you let the AV Receiver make the fine adjustments.

The same with adding an external amp, you simply want to find a setting of the Volume Control that is a bit above what it needs to be. As I indicated from my tests with my speakers at 11 o'clock the output was 90db, and at about 12 o'clock it was 95db, both are above the 85db Reference for 0db on the Volume Read out on the AVR.

Set the External Amp in that range and re-run the Setup program, and the AVR will set the Amps/Speaker so they are properly balanced relative to each other and to the Prime Seating location.

Generally the Volume Control should be set in the middle somewhere, as long as it is set within the reasonable working range of the Trim capability of the AVR. If you set the Amp wide open, it is possible the AVR will not be able to trim it back enough to make it balanced. If you set it too low, then it is possible the AVR will not be able to trim it UP enough to make it balanced.

As a Side Note:
in my case, pre-amping a secondary Stereo Amp, I marked the Volume Control setting with a marker (sliver of mailing/shipping label), so that should someone change the volume, I can always set it back on the mark without a lot of re-testing.

Set in the Middle, the output is above the 85db = 0db on the Volume Read Out, but not so excessively above that the AVR would not be able to dial it back and balance the speakers.

Power is the wrong question. Volume within the working range of the AVR's ability to trim and modify that Volume is the right question.

And you absolutely NEED to run the Setup Program again.

Or at least ... that is my opinion.

Steve/bluewizard

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