input sensitivity

I don't understand input sensitivity. Is lower better, because it allows the full power to be transmitted to the speaker more easily? I understand there might be less volume control.
Input sensitivity is the level needed to drive the amp to full power. It is measured as a voltage. For example, an amp with 500mV input senstivity will only need 1/4 the output of a normal 2V CD player to reach full power! This means an active preamp would be unnecessary.

High input senstivity (which means low input voltage needed) will make you run out of volume control range - which is very annoying. You will have to barely turn the volume control to make it loud. However I have come to an informal conclusion that high senstivity amps have a very full bodied sound with great authority. Not sure if I am imagining this or not but Jadis amps are good examples.

Another thing you should be concerned with is input impediance, can make A big difference in overall sound more then most people want to think.
An amp with high sensitivity is more prone to noise pickup in the interconnect. I prefer to boost the signals to a good high level before sending them through my (admittedly long) interconnects. However, with good wire and good electronics noise should not be an issue, but the oversensitive volume control, mentioned by Aball is a problem.
in addition amps with high input sensitivity have limited dynamic headroom.
powerfull amps usually need >2V input voltage to reach full output power.
The input sensitivity of the CarverPro ZR1600 that I use can be changed by moving a jumper plug between four positions.
0.316 vrms...common in consumer electronics with low voltage unbalanced outputs.
0.775 vrms...most common line-level calibration.
1.23 vrms...commonly seen in professional audio products with balanced outputs.
2.45...Devices with large voltage swing used to drive long line-level paths.

These signal levels produce full output: 600 watts into 4 ohms. I use 2.45 vrms.
The descriptions are from the owner's manual.
Great thread and answers. Input sensitivity has been discussed often on the 'Gon, but there's a lot of info in the responses here.

I've noticed what Aball mentions about higher sensitivity amps sounding more full-bodied, but had always chalked it up to the sonic character of the amp itself.

That said, when I was comparing five amps around three years ago, I noticed that the BAT VK200 sounded much more full-bodied than the Bryston 4B in my system. The BAT also needed less volume adjustment to play loud. The BAT has an input impedance of 100k ohms while the Bryston I believe is around 50k ohms. It is interesting that in this comparison the Pass Aleph 3 which has an input impedance of only 23k ohms suffered greatly in its ability to play loud, reproduce bass and in general drive my speakers. But despite all this it still managed to have a full sounding midrange especially in comparison to the Bryston.

Could it have been a combination of impedance matching, system dynamics and the personal characteristics of the amps at work here?
Unless you were using a preamp with a high output impedance, I think it's unlikely that that the input impedance differences between those amps are the reason they sounded different. (Input impedance is different from input sensitivity.) The Pass is much lower-powered than the other two and doesn't have the best bass but does have a rich midrange. Its low input impedance can be a mismatch with some tube preamps, theoretically at least.
Drubin, that's what I came away with from that experience. The preamp used in the comparison was the Blue Circle BC21 which uses two 6SN7 tubes. But despite the problems with my system, I sure liked that Aleph 3.
Two Arcam amps claim 2.5mv and 700mv. Is this normal?
sauellaudio it,s normal