The volumn control is really an attenuator. You are not hurting anything by turning it up louder. This also will have no bearing on tube life. Enjoy
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Dial it up. No problems. I believe most, if not all, volume controls are actually attenuators and are more linear for stereo tracking (unless they are really fairly extravagantly designed and built) in the upper reaches.
I "slingshotted" pres together from a line stage to a TacT for years and unless you drive it into distortion, so what?
You can do the same thing from a tape deck with volume controls or by setting a phono pre a bit hot.
It seems to me that you have a lack of input level and using player with weak signal.
There are players that have 2v output and perhaps you should look for the one instead of what you have.
Your volume settings past 12:00 should realy shake the house while moderate volumes should between 9:00 -- 10:00 or 10:00 -- 11:00
Your tubes in preamp pretty much 'don't care' about your volume settings. Oppo players have only 1v output.
Czarivey, oppo list the output at 2.1 SE and 4.2 balanced.
Analog Audio Characteristics** Frequency Response: (RCA) 20Hz 20kHz: ± 0.2dB, 20Hz 96kHz: -1.5dB. (XLR) 20Hz
20kHz: ± 0.3dB, 20Hz 96kHz: -1.5dB
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: >130dB (A-weighted, auto-mute), >115dB (A-weighted, no auto-mute)
THD+N: <0.0003% or -110dB (1kHz at 48k/24b, 0dBFS, 20kHz LPF), <0.0017% or -96dB
(1kHz at 44.1k/16b, 0dBFS, 20kHz LPF)
Output Level: 2.1 Vrms (RCA) or 4.2 Vrms (XLR) at 0dBFS
Dynamic Range: >110dBV
Channel Separation: >110dB