No Volume Swing -- help

I go from no sound to ear bleeding when I turn the dial from 0 to the 1 hour mark on my Pre-Amp! What am I doing wrong?? I can live with it, but I prefer a little more swing in the volume control.

This happens with both my Rotel RMB 1095 and my Parasound HCA-855a amps. My pre amp is an Audio Refinement Pre5. Which is nothing but an analog preamp. CD player is a Marantz DV8400.

I can somewhat remedy the situation by bringing the gain controls on the back of the Parasound from 100% to about 25%, which gives me a little more volume swing. But I've heard all that does is introduce resistance and attentuation, which is actually bad for the signal path. I do not even have this option on my Rotel 1095.

What does all this mean. Is my YBA Pre5 junk? Do I need to internally modify the gain on it to be flat? How do I do that?

Any help is much appreciated, as I am finding this quite frustrating!!


If you are saying that at the one o'clock position on your pre, the volume is VERY loud, then that's no real surprise, if the fully attenuated position is, say about 7 o'clock or so. Will depend quite a bit on how efficient your speakers are, and also somewhat if you CDP puts out a signal that is somewhat higher than standard line level. Lots of variables here. Biggest question, is can you fine tune the volume to the level you like/need. If so, then don't sweat it.
The problem is that your preamp has high output and your amp has high sensitivity, the result being that you have little range in volume control. When this occurs, it has nothing to do with the "quality" of the components per se, and is merely bad synergy (like putting a guy who yells a lot with a women who cannot tolerate loud voices, or vice-versa)

I concur with the above comment, however, that if your volume range is from 6 O'Clock (off) to 1:00 O'Clock (full-blast), this is quite typical (I am tempted to say standard) and to me, not problematic. I once ran a CAT preamp with VAC amps and only had seven "clicks" on the volume control for range - 9:00 O'Clock was full-blast! I resolved the problem by selling the preamp in favor of a new preamp that had only half the output (gain) of the CAT preamp.

Good luck.
This is unfortunately common, and has caused me to give up on using some otherwise excellent preamps. One solution (which assumes you're using single-ended, not balanced/XLR cables) is to put attenuators at the amp inputs. Parts Express (see sells pretty good ones (see part numbers 266-240, 266-242, 266-244). You can also find the somewhat more expensive (and in my experience, no better in sound quality) Rothwell attenuators advertised here on Audiogon.
Both Rich and Raquel are correct. High gain pre-amp may require attenuating the gain on the amp. The fixed attenuators like the Rothwell, which I have used, do not have any significant impact on sound quality.

Ok, so it sounds like I have 2 options to attenuate the gain on the amp:

1) Use the gain controls right on the amp
2) Buy the Rothwell attenuators and keep the amp volume gains at full.

As it is now, I dont notice any difference in quality with the gain set only to 35% on the Parasound, but this Rothwell idea sounds interesting.

Thanks for the advice.

Jason -- There are potential advantages to using the attenuators: finer adjustment in the resulting range of your volume control, and (perhaps) better channel tracking - even some very good volume controls don't track as well at lower levels. Of course, if you're happy with the sound now, why bother?