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Volume you actually listen to your system at?


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I have noticed many posts recently on various boards about db limits, ratings of speakers, output levels and so on.

My own system is capable of ludicrous volumes, yet, I almost never use it. In fact it only ever climbs above 9 o'clock on the volume when friends come round and I want to show off.

Usually I listen to music at just above normal conversation levels (dont know what that equates to in db). I was wondering about the rest of you. do you really pump up the volumes to the extent we talk about on these sites?

I would imagine you will all have hearing problems within a few years if you do.


2 * Heresy 2 (mains)

2 * Homemade horn speakers (rears)

1 * REL Strata 3 sub

Accuphase E211 amp.

Tube monoblocks with separate pre-amp (solid state).

Marantz CD6000 player

Sony NS900 SACD/DVD player

Stax Headphones

Humax 5400 digital satellite receiver

Sharp Video

32" Sony flat screen 16:9 TV

Mogami interconnects

Silver Synergistic speaker cable

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Peaks at around 100dB-105dB, normally the material will peak at around 95dB. It depends on the music, of course, but I found unpleasant to have 110dB or more for more than a few seconds.

I hear mostly classical music, and what I want is to resemble the real volume at which an orchestra can play at my listening position (I always sit around the 12 line of seats on a big concert hall). I have several test, with all kind of classics, and I have learned that playing at full levels the orchestra rarely pass 105dB for just a few seconds, most of the time I see the orchestra playing between 70dB and 80dB with peaks at around 95dB.

This message has been edited by Manuel on 01-08-2002 at 10:38 AM

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I play my music at average levels of 67 to 73 dBs on a pair of big old Klipsch Cornwall horns rated at 100 dB/w/m. This is slightly above normal room conversion levels. With normal volume set at 9:00 on the dial, musical scale peaks are some 10 to 15 dB higher. At higher volumes, the peaks appear to be compressed and that is when the trouble starts for someone seeking the ultimate audio system.

My seating spot is 9 feet away, in a carpeted 14 by 17 living room with popcorn painted 8 ceilings. It opens to the kitchen behind with a doorway and a pass-though window. The front and sidewalls are CBS construction. The room opens to an enclosed porch with two sliding glass doors at the back of the room (238 square feet). A clapping test shows slight echo and brightness.

My latest addition is a pair of custom Bottlehead 2A3 Paramour mono amps rated at 3.5 watts at 5% THD. My pre-amp volume control approximates the actual amount of power being sent to the speakers. Unlike most volume knobs, which send out almost all of the power by 2:00 on the dial.

At the 9:00 setting, I get 73 dB (+- 2 dB) at the listening spot, with possibly about 1.6 watts. This is a 1 kHz tone, with both subs set at their normal setting, measured at back of my couch, 117" from the front of the speakers, on a "C" weighting, and fast response, using a low cost Radio Shack SPL meter.

Noontime on the dial is a 91-dB average with about 3.2 watts. Three o'clock with this extrapolation is 101 dB with about 4.9 watts. At flat out, with the volume twisted far right to 5:00 on the dial, they will put out something like 6 watts, providing an unmusical pain at 110 dB.

Theoritical calculations estimate about four watts to get 95 dB in actual room response. This appears to be about right, for between one and two on the dial, I am getting something like 92 to 97 dB slow "C:" weighted averages with about 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 watts.

Whew! Glad I got that off my chest ...


Colin's Music System Cornwall 1s & Klipsch subs; lights out & tubes glowing!

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Depending on the source, the music and the recording, it ranges from 70 to 80 db. With movies, occasional peaks at 95 to 100 db are normal for me. Both of these are considered "loud" by most people that are in the room with me at any given time. If no one is home and I want to "play", I find that music in the 95 to 100db range is fun for a while, but not long term.


L/C/R: Klipsch Heresy II

Surround: Klipsch RS-3

Subwoofers: 2 HSU-VTF-2

Pre/Pro/Tuner: McIntosh MX-132

AMP: McIntosh MC-7205

DVD: McIntosh MVP-831

CD Transport: Pioneer PD-F908 100 Disc Changer

Turntable: Denon DP-72L

Cassette: Nakamichi BX-1

T.V. : Mitsubishi 55905


Surge Protector: Monster Power HTS-5000

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On 2 channel music I generally listen at ~85dB with peaks of ~90-95dB (rat shack SPL meter "C" weighted/slow response).

This equates to ~9:30-10 O'clock on the volume dial of my preamp. It also depends on my source, the FM plays louder than my CD.


Ed W

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Gee Edster, your jammin'!

I'm around this same zone, maybe 5 Db's less.

80 to 95.

That post of mine measuring 114 116 decibels,

is a rarity.

It was the first time I pushed it too ten.

It never goes past nine.

(In a 12'x14'x7' room at 116 decibels is dumb,

you can't relax.)


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I have emailed Cary regarding the "stuck" volume knob on the preamp. It bottoms out at ~11 O'clock on the dial Frown.gif.

I haven't heard anything back from them yet, they are probably in LV this week. I'll be giving them a call pretty soon.

Once I get the volume knob problem fixed I should be able to get some real volume!


Ed W

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Yeah, speaking of the CES, I have been busy as a fiend trying to update various sites because of said show. I almost attended but the idea of going to Las Vegas left me cold. I once drove over 12 hours out of my way to AVOID Vegas! I would rather sit in a vat of lard then hang around Vegas for a week. Too bad it wasnt in NYC, San Francisco, or Chicago...

Have you tried the Creek passive yet? How about the comparison between the Cary SLP-74 and the AE-3 DJH?

As for the volume, I have never seen that happen on a new piece. Very odd. Does it actually bottom out sharply or does it give feeling as if it is stuck?


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I haven't tried the Creek passive preamp yet. I much prefer the Super Preamp AE-3 to the SLP-74. The SLP-74 sounds dark compared to the AE-3.

As for the volume control, it doesn't hit a stop, it seems like friction (gradually, but very quickly) stops it from turning any further.

I don't really need to turn it up any louder than it goes now, but I still want it to function properly...


Ed W

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I have 2 preamps at the moment (and 1 line stage/DAC- Monachy Audio Model 33). I sold my SLP-74 a couple of weeks ago. I have a Creek OBH-12 passive and the AES AE-3 DJH Super Preamp. I haven't listened to the Creek yet, I really like the AE-3. I am going to do some more serious listening before I put the passive in for comparison.


Ed W

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  • 2 weeks later...


How is the MA 33?

Do you think I should sell my PLD1100 & MSB Link III

and purchase the Model 33?




Monarchy Audio SM-70

Onkyo DV-S535


Parasound PLD 1100


AudioQuest Slate/Diamondback

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I like the model 33 alot. I have never heard the MSB so I can't comment on whether or not to make a change.

Check out the reviews on the Monarchy 33 at audioreview.com

I do think that if you call Mr.Poon at Monarchy he will sell you one with a 30 day trial. I also saw one at AudiogoN here: .

Of course I have heard great things about the MSB unit also.


Ed W

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I've checked a few times: Rat Shack analog meter, C wighting, slow response. typical "rockin" level at listening position is around 90-95db. The "daytime, don't disturb the Mrs." level is usually 85-90db. Gee, I wonder if 80W is enough.cwm32.gif



infinity sm-120s (surround)

dynaco qd-2 passive speaker-level surround decoder

sony ta-f606es 80W mos-fet int. amp.

sony cdp-x33es CD player

sony dtc-75es DAT recorder

sony st-s550es am/fm tuner

sony ps-lx510 turntable w/ audio-technica at-216ep

akai hx-a3 cassette

rat shack gold 12ga speaker wire

rat shack gold banana plugs

rat shack gold interconnects



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  • 2 weeks later...

Pretty much keep volume hovering around noon.

System consists of ATI1505 (150x5), Acurus RL11, Rotel RCD-971, Audio Control EQ101 (to tone down mid, no boosting), KLF-30's.

Listening room is appx. 12Wx20Lx7.5H., and quite reflective.

Not sure which is giving out though. Even at noon, I still want more volume, but it seems to strain, so I don't know if its my ears, spkrs, or amp, though my clipping LED's don't light.

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