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Best volume setting in a chain of a streamer, DAC, Amp?

Mehdiem

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Hi, I’m wondering what would be the ideal setting of gain/volume in the following chain?

(1) Node Streamer (coax out to RME)
(2) RME ADI-2 (RCA out to Yamaha)
(3) Yamaha N-R602 Integrated Amp (to KEF LS50)

Currently, my setting is a follows:

(1) Node Steamer: volume fix at maximum (0db)
(2) RME as a DAC/preamp: I control the volume from there (usually between -30db to -40db)
(3) Yamaha Integrated amp: I set this at "Pure Direct" and set the volume at 0db. (I could alternatively turn off the "Pure Direct" and use the "Loudness" knob in the tone control section to tweak more.

Please let me know if this is the most effective setting, or I could do better?
 

Helicopter

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(1) is the best, and I would be pretty confident (2)/(3) are also in the best configuration here, for measured SINAD at the speaker terminals. This is assuming that running through the Yamaha tone controls is more harmful to performance than setting the RME near the max that is compatible with the Yamaha, whatever that is, 1.6V, 2V, something like that..
 

ZolaIII

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Use the analog (A) stage input "volume trim" (options - volume trim) on your Yamaha. Put it down to minus 5~7 (and play with it in generally). Try the Yamaha with optical in and it's own DAC (to avoid EMI on it's analog inputs).
 
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Mehdiem

Mehdiem

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(1) is the best, and I would be pretty confident (2)/(3) are also in the best configuration here, for measured SINAD at the speaker terminals. This is assuming that running through the Yamaha tone controls is more harmful to performance than setting the RME near the max that is compatible with the Yamaha, whatever that is, 1.6V, 2V, something like that..

I'm not sure, but I feel that I hear more congestion when Yamaha is at Pure Direct, vs. when I reduce the Loudness by 5db with tone control.

Prior to purchasing RME. I used to stream at 0db, Yamaha Loudness -5db, and I used to control the Yamaha volume between -10 to -15 dB. I used to hear more clear sounds in the above volume range as compared to now. Currently, I have a good clear sound at a very particular dB setting on RME, but if I deviate too much I hear congestion. This is contrary to what Pure Direct should function?

I also have more general confusion about the gain setting. As I am planning to purchase a NAD C298 and to use my RME as a preamp. This means that I have no tone control on the NAD, and I should play the RME at a very low dB to get the same level sound out. Having explained the issue (i.e. Yamaha sounds better at lower loudness level, vs. Pure Direct) does it mean my NAD C298 will sound worst because I have no control over the gain/loudness? And I’m wondering if it’s a good idea to use RME as a preamp with NAD C298 at all?
 

Helicopter

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I'm not sure, but I feel that I hear more congestion when Yamaha is at Pure Direct, vs. when I reduce the Loudness by 5db with tone control.

Prior to purchasing RME. I used to stream at 0db, Yamaha Loudness -5db, and I used to control the Yamaha volume between -10 to -15 dB. I used to hear more clear sounds in the above volume range as compared to now. Currently, I have a good clear sound at a very particular dB setting on RME, but if I deviate too much I hear congestion. This is contrary to what Pure Direct should function?

I also have more general confusion about the gain setting. As I am planning to purchase a NAD C298 and to use my RME as a preamp. This means that I have no tone control on the NAD, and I should play the RME at a very low dB to get the same level sound out. Having explained the issue (i.e. Yamaha sounds better at lower loudness level, vs. Pure Direct) does it mean my NAD C298 will sound worst because I have no control over the gain/loudness? And I’m wondering if it’s a good idea to use RME as a preamp with NAD C298 at all?
ADI2 should be a great preamp and volume control for the NAD power amp. What speakers are you using?
 
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Mehdiem

Mehdiem

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Use the analog (A) stage input "volume trim" (options - volume trim) on your Yamaha. Put it down to minus 5~7 (and play with it in generally). Try the Yamaha with optical in and it's own DAC (to avoid EMI on it's analog inputs).

Interesting. I was not aware of volume trim. I tried it now. But it requires to turn of the pure direct. Which I did. I assume this is going to function similar to Loudness Knob?

I'm currently using RME DAC to eq, so I have to use analog out from RME to Yamaha. Optical is not a choice here. Btw, I'm using Line 1. Does it make any difference to use CD input or Line 2 at all?
 

digitalfrost

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Mehdiem

Mehdiem

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Looking at the manual https://au.yamaha.com/files/download/other_assets/1/793541/web_VDE2250_R-N602_om_AB_En_D0.pdf

They seem to spec only 200mV for the analog inputs, but then below it says maximum input singal 2.2V or more?! I think you are correct adjusting the volume at the RME, I would just take care not to exceed ~2V.

I would keep the Yamaha at pure direct and the Auto Ref Level and Loudness controls of the RME.

RME is set on Auto Ref + Loudness.

I don't understand what do you mean by signal input of 2.2 v or?! What is this reference to? Where can I check or tweak it!
 

Helicopter

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That's probably a pretty sweet setup with EQ from the RME. I doubt there will be a big difference with the NAD power amp, but headroom and XLR inputs are both nice, so I can see the attractiveness of that amp. I think it looks better than that Yamaha too.
 

ZolaIII

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Interesting. I was not aware of volume trim. I tried it now. But it requires to turn of the pure direct. Which I did. I assume this is going to function similar to Loudness Knob?

I'm currently using RME DAC to eq, so I have to use analog out from RME to Yamaha. Optical is not a choice here. Btw, I'm using Line 1. Does it make any difference to use CD input or Line 2 at all?
No its not, with loudness knob you control main amp stage volume, with "volume trim" (±10 range) your control analog input stage (up to 2.35V but useful in much narrower range) it's per every input source.
Thing is Yamaha's analog inputs (all of them) are rated at 100 dB and it's own DAC and it's input line can do better.
 
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Mehdiem

Mehdiem

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That's probably a pretty sweet setup with EQ from the RME. I doubt there will be a big difference with the NAD power amp, but headroom and XLR inputs are both nice, so I can see the attractiveness of that amp. I think it looks better than that Yamaha too.

Really? Why do you think there won't be a big difference? I thought when I will get twice as much more power, the Purifi amp then is supposed to make a huge difference as compared to my current amp?
 
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Mehdiem

Mehdiem

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@Mehdiem did you understand me? See the second page of N803 review restorer-john comment about 1.5$ part.

I understood the volume trim part. I read the comment on N803 review but didn't understand it whole a lot. My understating was that Pure Direct not necessarily work better?
 

Helicopter

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No its not, with loudness knob you control main amp stage volume, with "volume trim" your control analog input stage (up to 2.35V but useful in much narrower range) it's per every input source.
Thing is Yamaha's analog inputs (all of them) are rated at 100 dB and it's own DAC and it's input line and do better.
Ahh. I forgot the Yamaha did better with its own DAC than it did with its analog inputs. The NAD amp would be better with the ADI2 for this reason, and something with digital EQ and digital I/O like a miniDSP would do better in the EQ role for the Yamaha than the ADI2.
Really? Why do you think there won't be a big difference? I thought when I will get twice as much more power, the Purifi amp then is supposed to make a huge difference as compared to my current amp?
If you're listening loudly, the bass will be better, and that NAD amp should have less distortion and noise. Bigger differences come from changing speakers, adding EQ, treating your room. I am not saying you shouldn't go for it; just that I wouldn't expect it to be like changing speakers, EQ, room. I am running an NC500MP dual mono amp, so it's not like I think it is a waste, just not as important as that other stuff. Your LS50 is a good speaker. The NAD amp seems like a reasonable incremental improvement to your setup.
 
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ZolaIII

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I understood the volume trim part. I read the comment on N803 review but didn't understand it whole a lot. My understating was that Pure Direct not necessarily work better?
Well to quote John everything goes trough that cheap analog stage (one way or another). I have older (with little stronger Sunken transistors pairs) R-N402D that is a bare bone tone controls (ISO 226) volume and volume trim only. How bad not pure direct will be depends on what monstrosity (aka old AVR part) they put in, mine doesn't have any.
 
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ZolaIII

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@Helicopter I planned to play with mine regarding authending it's analog inputs. It's not like they are bad, there is just a little bit of self hum when you put your ear on speakers directly.
 
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Mehdiem

Mehdiem

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Ahh. I forgot the Yamaha did better with its own DAC than it did with its analog inputs. The NAD amp would be better with the ADI2 for this reason, and something with digital EQ and digital I/O like a miniDSP would do better in the EQ role for the Yamaha than the ADI2.

If you're listening loudly, the bass will be better, and that NAD amp should have less distortion and noise. Bigger differences come from changing speakers, adding EQ, treating your room. I am not saying you shouldn't go for it; just that I wouldn't expect it to be like changing speakers, EQ, room. I am running an NC500MP dual mono amp, so it's not like I think it is a waste, just not as important as that other stuff. Your LS50 is a good speaker. The NAD amp seems like a reasonable incremental improvement to your setup.

I just purchased UMIK-1 and will do REW soon. I have a plan to treat my room ASAP. Just don't know where to start or what to buy? Please share if there is any usual resource or literature regarding room treatment.

As for now, before getting my NAD, I want to make sure that this new setting that I learned today won't harm any equipment (lowering the volume trim by -5 to 7db?) I don't I don't yet understand the 2.2 V that you and the other members mentioned here?
 

Helicopter

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I just purchased UMIK-1 and will do REW soon. I have a plan to treat my room ASAP. Just don't know where to start or what to buy? Please share if there is any usual resource or literature regarding room treatment.

As for now, before getting my NAD, I want to make sure that this new setting that I learned today won't harm any equipment (lowering the volume trim by -5 to 7db?) I don't I don't yet understand the 2.2 V that you and the other members mentioned here?
If you have tools, I would get some of the Owens Corning acoustic boards, and cover them with fabric myself. Carpets and rugs can be good too. Ethan Winner has some YT videos about making acoustic treatment, and there are a ton of videos on making panels. I haven't looked into buying pre made panels because I have tools and stuff.

The 2.2V is a line level volume, which is about what your max volume should be for an RCA connection normally. The optimal input volume varies by device, and is a bit lower for your Yamaha amp. You want the line level volume to be about the max of what the device can handle, but not higher, making the signal is stronger, but not so much as to fry or clip the next device in the chain. If you get the NAD amp and run XLRs from your ADI2 to the NAD, then the XLR connection will max out more like 4V line level. The line level volume doesn't apply to anything in the chain after the volume control.
 

ZolaIII

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It's 500 mV/47 kΩ for my R-N402 (quoting the manual). Leave the input as it should be 2V and do the rest with volume trim.
Edit: if you wish you can reduce it with ADI for 2 dB additionally but you really don't have nead for that with it.
 
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