Volume setting vs clipping question

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by merlperl, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. merlperl

    merlperl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Sherman Oaks, CA
    I realize that this is likely going to depend on the amp and the speaker sensitivity (in this case cary sli-80 with rolled tubes/Von schweikert vr 4jr bone stock), but...

    How high do you normally turn up the volume on your amp before it clips? Like in "o'clocks"?

    I had previously had a musical fidelity A3.2 solid state amp running my speakers (tops) and was bi-amping with a parasound amp to the subs. I replaced the MF amp with the Cary. Kept the Bi-amp set up for a while and have now just bi wired the Cary with no other amp to the speakers.

    Used to be the mf couldn't go much past about 11:00 before it was PLENTY LOUD. the Cary being of less power needs to be at around 1-2:00 before it's plenty loud, although normally I have it at 11:00 and it's at about conversation level.

    ANYWAY I guess I'm more curious than anything to know where everyone's volume knobs are when listening on average levels (conversation level or slightly above is my preference), when you are cranking, and (!) where your amp exhibits audible clipping (something I've never experienced with my amps)?
  2. jea48

    jea48 Forum Resident

    Midwest, USA
    One thing you need to consider is the different input sensitivity of the two amps.

    The Musical Fidelity A3.2 Line input sensitivity is 300MV 200K ohms for full output.

    The Cary sli-80 Line input sensitivity is 45MV for full output.

    A CDP line output is typically 2V.

    Just an example the average listening level the volume control on the A3..2 might be at 9:00 while the Cary might be 11:00 or 12:00.

    Even though the CDP output is 2V the volume control on the two amps limits the signal voltage to the amplifier.
    Nick Brook likes this.
  3. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    For me, it's simply loud enough for the music to "wrap around" me. If I want to listen to the equipment, I'll walk up to it and just stand there, until I definitely hear what I think I'm hearing. Then, I'll goose it a notch, look my companion in the eye, "point it out" when it happens again, and say, "there, hear it-?".

    At which point, he will suddenly leave the room, then come back in with a ball in his mouth.
    Strat-Mangler, merlperl and showtaper like this.
  4. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Forum Resident

    Iowa, USA
    Am curious why the o'clock position is of interest to you when we know volume in one given setting is completely unrelated to the volume of same o'clock setting in another room with other gear?

    Seems like a random and unreliable piece of information???
  5. Mike from NYC

    Mike from NYC Forum Resident

    Surprise, AZ
    If you hear distortion and clipping you're in trouble - at least your tweeters are.
  6. jea48

    jea48 Forum Resident

    Midwest, USA

    That should read 450MV

  7. Daily Nightly

    Daily Nightly Well-Known Member

    New Jersey, USA
    I can blast my 45wpc, ss Tandberg receiver throughout the house at the 12 o'clock (6) setting; using 81db (in)efficient A.R. 3a's from 1969.
    Ordinarily, that wouldn't be seen as an optimal combination...but, since it was just something from Goodwill and needed a rebuild anyway: I "hot-rodded" it with all over-rating, beefier parts and tweaked the bias to run into class A up to almost 10 watts before transitioning to class B, and --- for me, it is as toe-tapping musical as I could ever want.

    Comparing it to, for example, the Marantz 1200 ss integrated amp I also have (and it claiming, oppositely, power of *125*wpc @4ohms): I would NOT trust the stability of this Marantz amp in a second to withstand what I've put the Tandberg through since February of 2016(!)...so, I use it just as a second/headphone system upstairs.
    Point being: "clean" wattage isn't always guaranteed with an amp advertising a bigger bark:confused:
  8. acdc7369

    acdc7369 Forum Resident

    Pittsburgh, PA
    Also depends on the dynamic range of the source material. Don't worry about the o clock position as long as you can always hit full power when it's cranked.
  9. merlperl

    merlperl Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Sherman Oaks, CA
    Yeah you know I am not sure why I asked. I suppose I am just wondering if some amps can be turned up 3/4 of the way or higher without clipping...I've had my cary up that high and not heard any distortion so I just wondered if that's unusual. Most amps I've owned in the past I've never had up that high. Usually 12:00 is the highest. But those have all been solid state. This is my first tube amp and I wonder if, since tubes clip more softly, I'm just not hearing it.
  10. jea48

    jea48 Forum Resident

    Midwest, USA
    Here is an interesting post from Charles Hansen.


    Just about every tube amp made has a push-pull output stage, and certainly 99.999% of those with 50 wpc fall into that category.

    There used to be a saying popular a couple of decades ago, "One tube watt is worth two solid state watts." This was *not* a myth, there is an actual technical reason for it, Specifically, the output transformer in a push-pull tube amp will *reject* sag or droop or other imperfection in the power supply.

    This is *not* true for the vast majority of solid-state amps - either A/B or switching. But there are a handful of solid-state amps that are fully balanced from input to output - meaning that the output stage is a *balanced bridge* design. It will reject sag, droop, and other imperfections of the power supply in the same way that a push-pull tube amp will (which is exactly the same way that a balanced input will reject hum, even in long cables with low signal levels as found in recording studios.

    The Naim is does *not* have a balanced-bridge output stage. But if you can find a solid-state class A/B power amp with 100 wpc and a balanced bridge output stage, it will sound as powerful as a 200 wpc solid-state amp with a single-ended output stage (class A/B or switching)."

    Hope this helps,
    Charles Hansen

    "Tube Watts" - Charles Hansen - Amp/Preamp Asylum
  11. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    The thing is it all depends. It depends on how much gain is in each amplification stage, it depends on the input sensitivity of the amp, it depends on the design of the amp and its headroom and its power supply and even to some degree differing input impedances on different amps. There's no fixed answer but it seems to me if someone is able to drive an amp to clip with a preamp knob set at noon, and remember you're not adding gain to the circuit by turning up the volume knob up, you're attenuating the full gain of the circuit less, then you probably have a less than ideal match of preamp output and amp input sensitivity.
  12. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Forum Resident

    Iowa, USA
    Like a party full of old geezers, too many Depends
    c-eling likes this.

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