Not completely sure what you're after, but as far as changing volumes for CDs and LPs, keep in mind that (i) as between CDs, each CD is recorded at a particular level, some higher than others, that accounts for some of the differences you're hearing, and (ii) with regard to LPs, your CD player puts out a much stronger signal than does your cartridge and phono stage, in all likelihood, so you will need to adjust your volume controls when switching to an LP source. In my case, it's a huge difference, and I have to be careful that after listening to LPs for a session I return the volume level on my preamp from 12 o'clock down to 9 o'clok to avoid blowing out the windows in my living room if I play a CD.
I doubt you will ever achieve harmony using one set of controls as the above is correct that LPs signal is more often the weaker and yes, some CDs are louder than others. the above issues don't bother me as much as watching FOX and then a commercial comes on...
I have corrected this a bit with my McIntosh CR12 AV center. It has four preamps built into it and I can pre-adjust the volumn level to match the source. If I want higher volumn from a particular source I increase it at the source so that the CR12's settings remain constant for each source.
The issue with louder CDs is what it is. I can adjust that at my CD player(it has voulmn control) if it is too much of a nuisance.
If it took a week to dial in the volume it's probably because the CD disc wasn't broken in (or possibly it wasn't broken-in properly). Search the archives and you'll find volumes of info on the subject.
It's because the powers that be at the music companies tend to force the recording/mastering engineers to mix hot. Louder is perceived as better by the typical consumer. It is much more common with pop and rock music and less so with jazz and classical. The CD standard does not address level. I understand that the DVD standard does. Since CDs are played in automobiles, they are compressed and the level is high. JA in Stereophile has bemoaned this state of affairs often.
Better watch out, Onhwy61, your tongue might get permanently stuck in your cheek! :^)
Even within the same media, music is recorded at different volumes. I listen mostly to LP's and some were recorded at higher levels than others.
There is absolutly a difference between CD's & LP's with CD's being louder. I have not noticed as much a vairation in recording levels between different CD's. Then again I generally don't play them (CD's) back to back.
Jeeze, Your got a remote volume control and you've got a problem with finding the 'correct' playback level? What kind of an audiophile are you! :-)
FWIW, IMHO, finding the correct level is totally dependent on the level of distortion on the recording and the ability of your system to play back without adding distortion. On a great recording (minimal distortion) and a great playback system (source thru speaker/room interface) the only limit you should have is the limits of your amps and speakers, and if you can hear her, your wife yelling at you to turn it down!
I have multiple set ups and I'm surprised at how loud I can listen to one in comparison to another. And it has nothing to do with recording format per se.
I am firm believer that there is a correct volume level for each recording. This is not my original idea but makes a lot of sense.
It is a fact that our brains compensate for volume levels. Google Fletcher-Munson for verification. At lower levels the brain concentrates on the midrange and lows and highs have to be boosted to sound balanced.
So the correct volume level depends on what level the guy was listening at when he mixed the recording, assuming that he used EQ, which most recordings do. If he mixed at a low volume he boosted the extremes so if you crank it up it will have too much bass and treble. If he mixed at high volume and you listen at a low volume it will sound thin.
Add this to the fact that the average volume level from CD to CD varies widely (as Bob pointed out) means you need to adjust the volume for each CD to make it ideal.
I appear to be the only respondent to this thread that's LP set up plays louder than CD. When my CD player is set for 15 out of 46 available clicks of volume, it is about equal to my LP rig at 4 clicks.
My cartridge is only .2 MV but the phono stage is capable of 80 DB of gain. The Line stage applies an additional 20 DB gain.
So, cartridge with .2 MV and 80 DB of gain plus 20 DB more in preamp, is louder than CD (1 volt output) into 20 DB of gain.
That aside, I don't think my experience is the reason this thread was started. I think the original poster is frustrated at the vast differences in output level among different recording artists, labels and types of music.
Good example, The Red Hot Chili Peppers album, "By the Way" is recorded WAY hotter than Brad Mehldau, "Live in Tokyo."
Thanks for all the ideas/help given. I don't have a remote, so volume involves a little more. I guess that I'm satisified with one volume that plays most cd's okay. My lp setup requires a much higher volume than cd, also. Do remotes have the same or better resolution of volume that a volume control has? I did listen to an Audio Research Ref 3 with remote. The volume actually seemed to push the sound further away when it was lowered. Since volume is so critical to me or my system, I'm asking this question before I buy a new preamp.
A different preamp will not change the fact that all CDs are recorded at different levels. The result when playing your CDs will be the same.
This isn't a problem that can be corrected by adjusting your volume control.
'Hot' recordings (i.e. compressed) sound offensive at any level and one is forced to play them at low volume levels. With properly mastered recordings one can seemingly turn up the volume forever without being 'attacked' by the music.
I just purchased BUILT TO SPILL's "YOU IN REVERSE" on CD and it is so 'hot' that it is virtually unlistenable.
A double LP version is planned but I don't want to waste another $17 just to have this poorly mastered album in a different format. What are the chances that the record will be completely re-mastered for the vinyl release?
I'm not certain Mmakshak's volume issue has to do with hot recordings (overmodulated...especially in the upper mids). Perhaps he can clear this up. I do understand the issues of hot CDs (they are rare in my collection), and CDs released with volume levels different from disc to disc. These are separate problems...the latter not really being a problem, but rather a nuisance.
Digital recordings have a definite maximum signal...all sixteen (or 24) bits set. When the CD is mastered the engineer should set the input signal level so that the loudest moment of the recording is just below this "brick wall" maximum level. This will provide the best possible resolution. This is similar to the situation of mag tape recording, where the maximum level should be set just below saturation (clipping). However, even two CDs mastered in this way can sound very much different in overall loudness according to how much compression is applied.
We (and I) talk about compression, and it is true that this can make for a louder sounding recording. But there is also peak limiting. If the peak signal is limited this will permit a higher input signal level even before compression is done.
Exlibris, I definitely understand the $17 question. With analog(pre-1982), we won't listen to songs/albums that lack artistic value. With digital, we don't listen to cd's/albums that sound horrible. It's a different situation to me. That's why, for now, I buy cheap cd's. I don't feel robbed this way, if the cd turns out to be one that I won't listen to. TVAD, I've added some bass traps, which may mitigate my volume obsession. Most high-end preamps talk about .5db resolution, although I seemed to have read somewhere about .1 resolution. I am a cd neophyte, so my questions are coming from someone who is new to cd's(BTW, what a cd player Alex made with his APL Hi-Fi Denon 3910-my version!) I'm actually hoping that I can control volume easy enough to re-introduce my analog into my listening.
I'm sorry, I don't buy into the idea that there is something wrong with my system, if volume is so critical. I've found volume critical with both analog and digital. The only reason that I've found it so critical with digital has to do with the purity of the signal, I believe. Please investigate, and report it here.
I do have a question about volume here. Many high-end companies brag about .5db resolution of volume, yet I think I remember reading about .1 resolution. Since I've found volume so critical, can anyone help me here? I'm thinking that .5db might not be enough resolution for me.