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low sound level on 1014 (1 Viewer)

Kin Poon

Stunt Coordinator
Sep 23, 2004
I just bought the 1014tx-k and a set of infinity primus 140 speakers that are rated at 86db.

i was wondering why the amp has to go up to -20db just to make it sound decent and -15db to -10db to make it sound loud in my small bedroom

Is this normal, or is my amp defective???


i have also used MMAAC and it worked well, but the sound level isnt as high as it could be?? well, i never went above -10db (too loud), and the reciever stops at +12db.

I use the digital out on my Audigy for DD/DTS tracks and use analog out to listen to MP3's. Not much of a difference in volume. I also use a Sony DVD player through both digital and analog, same volume.

-20db is normal for me, and -10db is just TOO loud as i said...stil can stay in the room though, but not a good feeling.

I am asking because on my cousins Yamaha DSP-A1 (or is it A2), he set it on like -45 to 49-db, and it equals out to the same as my -15db almost??? Same source, used the sony dvd player again.

its just probably pionners design, cuz on the 10'oclock section of my sony amp, i already cant stand it no more.

BTW, if Mr Stephen Hopkin is reading this, what is ya DB volume on when you play dolby movies??? thank you

John Garcia

Senior HTF Member
Jun 24, 1999
Real Name
Don't list your gear in your signature because every one of your posts will pop up if someone searches for something that happens to be in your list, whether the post is related or not.

The numbering scale from one manufacturer has nothing to do with one from another manufacturer, so you can't compare them. A more powerful amp will also require you to turn it up a lot less than a weaker one, to achieve the same volume.

86dB is unusually low sensitivity, and I'm sure this is a factor as well.

Kin Poon

Stunt Coordinator
Sep 23, 2004
i will remove my sig ASAP

i know that every companies' number is different, but if i got to goto -20db to make it at decent level, its almost near the amps maximum point of +12db. -10db is loud, real loud, but bearable

Stephen Hopkins

HW Reviewer
Senior HTF Member
Jul 19, 2002
In my living room w/ my 1014TX I usually watch Dolby Digital movies at around -10db when I want it nice and loud, or anywhere from -15db to -20db for normal volume. The number system is definitely different, even compared to my Elite 43TX which which was around -20db for loud movies and -30db for normal level. In my bedroom system I listen to loud movies at around -30db and TV at around -45db on a Kenwood VR-6060. It looks like it's mainly just a different scale that will take some getting used to. I think it may also have to do with Auto MCACC setting 0db as reference level. My room is about 20' by 20' but my speakers are about 3db more sensitive than yours, so my listening levels should be about on par with yours. It doesn't sound like anything is wrong w/ your receiver, just a different scale that'll require some getting used to. Scales can vary within a certain brand as well as from brand to brand.

Also, a weaker or stronger amp shouldn't have any affect on the volume scale. It's just an indicator of how much voltage the pre-processor delivers to the actual amplifier (even thuogh this is all going on inside a receiver, not necesarily seperates). The amplifier then amplifies that voltage to generate a proper signal for the speakers to reproduce. How much a signal can be amplified by an amplifier before getting distortion (clipping) is dependant on the amplifier, but has nothing to do w/ the volume scale itself, and the volume scale is independant of the strength of the amplifier.


Second Unit
Nov 21, 2000
Work in progress. Comments and corrections welcome.

I have to increase the volume control on my new receiver to get a normal listening level compared with my old receiver. Does this mean that my new receiver is defective or lacking in power?

Not necessarily. It probably just means that the calibrated reference level of your new receiver is at a higher point on the master volume scale. First, make sure that your receiver's dynamic range compression is turned off.

The scale of numerical values that indicates the master volume setting may vary depending on manufacturer and model. The following examples are not universal, but are typical of many high-end receivers.

Description of Master volume scale from the manuals of several receiver manufacturers:


The volume can be adjusted within the range of -80 to 0 to 18 dB, in steps of 0.5 dB. However, if the volume for any channel is set at +0.5 dB or greater, the volume cannot be adjusted up to 18 dB. In this case the maximum volume adjustment range is "18 dB - (Maximum value of channel level)".


The volume can be adjusted within the range of - (infinity) to 18 dB, in steps of 1 dB. However, if the volume for any channel is set at +1 dB or greater, the volume cannot be adjusted up to 18 dB. In this case the maximum volume adjustment range is "18 dB - Maximum value of channel level."


You can choose from two ways of displaying the volume setting on screen.

Absolute: This displays the volume with a minimum of min (0) for no sound and a maximum of max (100). As a reference, the volume setting of Ref (82) is used as the 0-decibel for the relative display method.

Relative: This displays the volume as a decibel value on a scale with a designated reference point that is displayed as 0, which equals the volume setting of 82 for the absolute display method. With this display method, the minimum value is -(infinity), the next highest is -81, and the maximum value
is +18.

The relative master master volume display may seem unusual if you are accustomed to a receiver that displays the master volume on an absolute scale (1-100, for example) instead of a scale relative to 0 dB. It may also seem unusual if you are accustomed to a receiver that plays loud with the master volume at a much lower setting. A receiver that requires a higher master volume setting to produce the same power output may lead you to conclude that the receiver is less powerful, but that's not necessarily true. You'll probably find that your new receiver has a more usable range of volume control.

Why is 0 dB near the high end of the volume scale on some receivers and processors?

In digital recording, 0 dBFS (decibels full scale) is the peak level that can be recorded before digital clipping or overload occurs. Full scale is the level at which the binary number describing the signal is 1's in all places; it can't get any larger. All other measurements expressed in terms of dBFS will always be less than 0 dB (negative numbers). 0 dBFS is a logical reference for full scale because it can be used for any digital format regardless of the number of bits used to represent the signal. On some receivers and processors, the master volume level of 0 dB corresponds with the 0 dBFS level in Dolby Digital recordings.

If 0 dB is the maximum level before digital clipping or overload in a digital soundtrack, why does the master volume control go above 0 dB on some receivers and processors?

It's possible play back a digital soundtrack above the 0 dB reference level without clipping provided your amplifiers and speakers are capable. However, the dynamic range (the difference between the loudest peak and the softest level) will remain the same.

What is reference level?

Dolby or THX reference level is the volume level (sound pressure level) used in theaters for movie presentations (although this level is sometimes turned down). Digital formats are adjusted in the theater so that a digital signal level of -20 dBFS (20 dB below the 0 dB full scale level) will produce a sound pressure level of 85 dB at a distance two-thirds back in the theater. This allows a full-scale level of 105 dB per channel at the same distance.

Some of the more sophisticated receivers and processors for home use (including those that are THX certified) provide individual speaker level calibration with the master volume at a designated, preset reference level corresponding with 0 dBFS. These receivers and processors automatically set the master volume to the reference level when the individual speaker levels are calibrated. This reference level is typically displayed as 0 dB on the master volume.

Why should speaker levels be calibrated relative to reference level?

Accurate calibration relative to 0 dBFS (the full-scale reference level) ensures that the sound pressure level produced by a sound system is the level intended by the sound engineer when the film's audio was mixed, regardless of whether the sound system is in a studio, commercial theater or home theater.

How loud is reference level?

Dolby Digital soundtracks have a dynamic range (the difference between the loudest peak and the softest level) of 105 dB for each channel. All recording levels are referenced to the 0 dBFS peak, so the minimum level in a Dolby Digital soundtrack is -105 dBFS. When a speaker receives a 0 dB full-scale signal from a Dolby Digital soundtrack, the sound pressure level should be 105 dB from each full-range channel and 115 dB from the Low-Frequency Effects channel. The ability to actually achieve the peak SPL in your home theater depends on the speakers, amplifiers and room.

A digital signal level of 0 dBFS should produce a sound pressure level of 105 dB from each full range channel or 115 dB from the Low-Frequency Effects channel

If the 0 dB reference level corresponds with an SPL of 105 dB, isn't reference level too loud for normal listening?

Remember that 105 dB is the potential peak SPL at 0 dBFS (full-scale reference level). Dialog is typically well below the full-scale level. But many people find that the 0 dB reference level is too loud for most soundtracks. You can always reduce the master volume to provide a comfortable SPL.

What is dialog normalization?

The Dolby Digital recommended target level for dialog is -31 dBFS Leq(A), which is an output level 31 dB below 0 dB full-scale digital output, averaged over time using the equivalent loudness method. In order to maintain volume level consistency, Dolby Digital soundtracks contain a dialog level parameter (also known as dialogue normalization or dialnorm), which the decoder uses to automatically attenuate soundtracks that have a dialog level greater than -31 dBFS. The dialog level parameter is part of the soundtrack's metadata, which is data embedded in the digital audio data stream when the soundtrack is encoded. The scale used in the dialogue level setting ranges from -1 to -31 dB, in increments of 1 dB, where -31 dB represents no level shift. The Dolby Digital decoder adds the dialog level parameter to 31 dB to obtain the value of the level shift. For example, if a film has a dialogue level of -27 dBFS Leq(A), the sound engineer would include that dialog level parameter in the soundtrack's metadata. Your Dolby Digital decoder would add the -27 dB dialog level parameter to 31 dB resulting in a level shift of 4 dB. Your decoder would automatically reduce the volume by 4 dB. For dialog normalization to work as intended, the sound engineer must provide an accurate dialog level parameter in the metadata when the soundtrack is encoded.

How do I calibrate my home theater system at reference level?

Some receivers and processors (including those that are THX certified) have an internally generated test signal (pink noise) that is accurately calibrated relative to the 0 dB reference level. The internally generated pink noise in THX certified home equipment has a value of -30 dBFS. The Sound Pressure Level (SPL) that should correspond with the -30 dBFS test signal is 75 dB because the 0 dB full scale reference level corresponds with a peak SPL of 105 dB, and 105 dB - 30 dB = 75 dB. The user adjusts the individual speaker levels by observing a sound pressure level meter at the listening position so that each speaker produces 75 dBc (C-weighting, slow response) SPL with the internally generated pink noise and the master volume at the reference level of 0 dB.

Professional processors have a test signal with a value of -20 dBFS, so commercial surround sound systems are callibrated to 85 dBc SPL. This results in a calibrated reference level identical to home equipment. “This calibration, when measured correctly, equals the same level as the professional method, providing that the receiver and all of its sources have their internal gain correctly scaled.”

If your receiver or processor doesn’t have a designated point on the master volume scale that corresponds with the 0 dBFS reference level, and a test signal that is accurately calibrated relative to that level, you can use test signals from a DVD such as Avia or Video Essentials and note the level on the master volume that corresponds with the calibrated level. The most important objective when callibrating your receiver or processor is to make sure all speakers have the same output measure at the listening position.

How does room size, speaker sensitivity and speaker distance affect reference level?

Calibrating the individual speaker levels with the master volume at the 0 dB reference level eliminates variations due to speaker sensitivity, room size and distance between the listener and speakers. All systems that are properly calibrated at reference level will play the same soundtracks at the same SPL when the master volume is at 0 dB, provided the amplifiers have enough power and the speakers are capable of achieving the required SPL. There is no need to adjust the master volume to compensate for variations in speaker sensitivity and distance.

For example, consider the following two home theater systems:

The first is playing a Dolby Digital soundtrack at reference level (master volume at 0 dB) in a 2,000 cubic foot room with the listener 10 feet from speakers with relatively high sensitivity.

The second is playing the same Dolby Digital soundtrack at reference level (master volume at 0 dB) in a 4,000 cubic foot room with the listener 20 feet from speakers with relatively low sensitivity.

The two systems will produce the same SPL, provided both are properly calibrated, the amplifiers have enough power, and the speakers are capable of achieving the required SPL.

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Supporting Actor
Feb 20, 2000
I use the 1014 strictly as a pre-amp and I still set the volume as high as "-8" on movies like the Matrix Reloaded.

Acurus a200x5 (200x5)
Acurus a250 (250x2)
Samson s700 (350x2)
2200 watts :)

The volume scale is pretty irrelevant.

Steve Schaffer

Senior HTF Member
Apr 15, 1999
Real Name
Steve Schaffer

I used a Pioneer VSX-45TX for over a year, very similar in features and auto calibration to the current 1014 model.

Using the MCACC auto calibration feature would automatically set 0 db on the volume scale at reference level, as I verified with VE and AVIA and a Radio Shack spl meter.

Assuming a receiver is lacking because the volume indicator only goes to +18 or whatever is akin to assuming a guitar amplifier is superior because it's volume knob "goes to 11" ;)

I've since used 2 other auto calibrating receivers, a Yamaha RXV-1400 and Denon 2805, both of which have similar volume calibration. I can't listen to any movie at an indicated volume level of much more than -10db on any of them comfortably.

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