AVS Forum Special Member
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
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I would start by getting an SPL meter and trying to calibrate. You might find that it isn't as far off as you thought. And it would tell you by just how much (in dB) your center is playing too loud.
The first volume control you linked to is only rated to 15W, which would have me worried. However, most listening is pretty low-watt, so perhaps it would survive, despite being rated so much lower than your receiver is capable of delivering. I would worry that it would fail on the loud peaks, though.
This is a bit of a scientific wild-ass guess... but it seems like a simple resistor in series with the center channel to reduce it's volume by some fixed amount would work. And then use the center channel trim setting in the receiver to match it up, now that it's level has been knocked down by the resistor a bit. However, I am not sure what the specs on the resistor should be to handle the power or provide the right amount of volume reduction (seems like we should be shooting for ~5-10 dB or so, but use the results of your SPL meter test to know for sure).
Are the surrounds too loud, too? Or maybe they are less efficient than your very-efficient center (95dB is very efficient) and so are within the range that your receiver's trim settings can provide a match.