Volume level of ARC Ref 5 seems very high


I have a Ref 5 feeding Jadis JA100 monos into HH Eufrodites.
Already at very low volume setting levels, the sound is high.
For example, at volume setting 3, the sound level is ~65 db, at about 3 meters from the speakers and my listening room is big.
It doesn't bother me, I just wonder if I get the best out of the preamp at this low volume setting.

Thanks for your thoughts.
Have you checked the gain level on the Ref5?
The Euphrodites is a high-very high eff loudspeaker @ 98db/watt/meter, which means 1 watt @ 3 meters would give you 92 dB, so it's not surprising that you have to stay near the bottom of the volume attenuator's range. It is also true that at the low end, many attenuators do not perform very well (no idea particularly about the ARC). You may want to consider reducing the overall gain of the pre. Some older ARC pre-amps had an internal jumper that would reduce the gain by half, or sometimes it involved de-soldering a component. Given the quality of the unit, I'd talk to ARC about changing it, unless you want to go to a lower powered amp.
The Ref5 does not use a mechanical attenuator. It is microprocessor controlled.
I do agree that the gain on the Ref5/5SE is very high. And yes it is a challenge pairing with high gain amps and speakers that are efficient

I tested my Plinius SA-Reference with my Thiel CS3.7s in my room and while the Plinius was able to drive the speakers well, I thought the ARC wasn't in its optimal range (about 30+ on the display with the 5SE and 40+ with the 5).

So I swapped back to my Electrocompaniet Nemos to allow the ARC to work in its more optimal range.
hello Amuseb, just contact ARC and ask if it is also possible in the REF 5 what you can do in the REF 3 to increase the output with 6db.I wonder if by changing the
resistors to a higher value the output will decrease.In the REF3 we are talking about the R9 and R10.
all, thanks for your comments.
I did speak to ARC about it in the past and indeed they suggested the option of lowering the gain on the CD input but also said doing so could cause sonic loss of focus...
I don't have the time or patience to start de-soldering and soldering resistors in the unit with the risk of it downgrading the sound quality.
what ARC didn't say was if listening at the lower volume setups have an effect on the performance of the preamp.
this is what I'm trying to figure out...
thanks for your additional thoughts.
Hifigeek 1 ,question about the gain for both the REF 3 and 5 , as you have the schematics you know the gain can be increased in the REF 3 by soldering a 499 ohm resistor parallel to R9 and R10.Could the original resistor be changed by a higher value to decrease the gain ?And is the schematic in the REF 5 the same at this point ?It would always be a better solution than lowering the the gain only at the CD input .Increasing the gain for all inputs is an official technical note from ARC ( the mod should be done at an authorised ARC dealer )
There is a misunderstanding here. The Horning need a hi-end system. Aresearch/Jadis is for speakers muffled, that need to be scratched to put some detail on the outside, like Wilson.
This is not something I normally do so you would have to contact the factory. Changing the overall gain of the line stage could change the sonic character as well. The other issue involves changing the overall gain for those who play vinyl and have separate phone stages. Since you would have less gain in the high level stage that could cause a gain issue depending of course on the cartridge you use, speaker sensitivity etc. There is no easy solution. To cause the least amount of sonic damage, changing the gain on the CD input may be a better option.
Would some thing like this work?

Nice speakers! I`d really like to hear those hornings one day. These speakers are quite efficient and you have more system gain than you require.

I had this problem initially (my speakers are 94 db at 8 ohms)with my linestage having 20 db of gain.Could`nt go pass 10 oclock volume setting for most recordings(too loud). I had the builder lower the gain to 10 db and things have been fabulous since(ultra low noise floor).Lowering the gain in your ARC preamp will solve your problem.
The Horning are a must
Has anyone checked out the in-line attenuators in the link posted by doggiehowser?
I've just ordered a set :) Will let you know how it goes.
I used Rothwells on my SP10 going into a Mesa Baron. The Mesa worked best with low gain and the Rothwell 10db did the job without noticible side effects. If your line section is quiet enuf you can use the Rothwells between the source and the pre-amp as well, or in the tape loop. Personally I like it between the amp and pre-amp.
«The Mesa worked best with low gain and the Rothwell 10db did the job without noticible side effects» Yes, with no apparent damage. This is no serious hi-fi. Is a passive fixed pré. Two pré in the same signal line...
I've used the Rothwells many times. Maybe a good idea to give them a shot and then if it solves the overall problem, you can look further into having ARC lower the overall gain on the pre.
160562. HUH?

Not serious Hifi? Pray tell what exactly is 'serious HiFi'?

Two pre's - BS. The Rothwell is a simple resistor put in the signal path with lots of others. Nothing more or less.

You sound like someone advocating spending mucho bucks to solve, what for many would be, an adequate and inexpensive fix.
«You sound like someone advocating spending mucho bucks to solve, what for many would be, an adequate and inexpensive fix.»
You're putting a simple resistance between two devices of 10K , connected by a cable of 2K? perhaps, to solve a problem of incompatibility of gains. It's one more? But all the others do not obey to projects? and very expensives. Considering the investment, is not a serious way to solve the problem. There are some preamplifiers, which have entries with different gains, for digital and analogue, or a switch, to change the gain. This is to face the problem seriously. This makes part of the project. I think 'Amused' was thinking that spending a certain amount of money, everything would be perfect. he deserves your comment, not me.
Newbee, there is no simple answer. For example, in my situation I would prefer a unity gain i.e. 0 gain remote controlled device as my audio and video system are one in the same and I can't use my ARC SP3C. I refuse to get up to change the gain or mute the preamp every time I change channels. I don't feel like building one either.
Doggiehowser, I'm looking forward to your impressions of the attenuators...
I'll let you know when I get it :)
Got the Rothwells a couple of days ago in the mail but I was out of town so only just got around to testing it.

I am using it in between the CDP and the Ref5SE but it can also be used between preamp and power amp. The reason I am using it this way is because I only have 3 inputs:
the XDS1 SACD where I find the gain too high
the Bel Canto Phono3 and Sumiko Blackbird where the gain is not an issue
the AVR pre out (PROC input) where the gain is a non issue.

Using it between the pre and power would require me to recalibrate my AVR front L/R levels as well as some adjustment on my subwoofer S1 Integrator box so I took the easy way out.

The unit I got is the default 10dB attenuation. I have to say it does work remarkably well.

It was pretty late when I started listening but I could dial the Ref5SE to about 35-40 without disturbing the missus in the next room too much. This is the usual level I listen to but of course, it is much louder without the Rothwells.

At this level, the SPL is comparable to listening at around 25-30 in the past but at those settings on the ARC, I wasn't getting this level of dynamics and punch that I am getting with the Rothwells. There is a lot more detail and I am able to discern more of the background instruments. In the past, I might be able to get more of the dynamics at a higher volume, but I think the loudness (which with compression on some recordings) makes it hard to listen for extended periods.

I have not encountered any downsides at the moment.

Pretty impressed for what is a small price to pay for them vs the ARC.
Hi Doggiehowser. Heard from Kal at ARC. Kal told me that ARC will schedule the SE upgrade for my Ref 5 sometime next month. I know you have the Ref 5 SE. I recall that you raved about the SE upgrade over the original version of the Ref 5. Are you still "luvin" it? Still think it's worth the bucks?? Thanks.
Still loving it :)

Running it in was a bit painful. It was great out of the box. Then not. Then worse. Then eureka :)
Thanks Doggie . . . please remind me. Did you do the SE upgrade on your "old" Ref 5, or just buy the Ref 5 SE new? If the former, then I appreciate the heads up re expectations. If the later, I wonder out loud whether I will get any break-in "benefit" because the rest of my Ref 5's innards are well broken-in by now.
I live outside the US so my dealer got me a new unit and handled the upgrade on his own.
doggie, thanks a lot for the feedback on the Rothwells. I'll surely get myself a pair to see what they do to my system on this side of the globe.
are you using balanced or SE cables between your CDP and Ref5 SE?
can you tell me what is the sound pressure in db and at what distance from the speakers that you experience at the 35-40 level?
regards from a white Paris.
I noticed that while the SPL with the Rothwells in and the ARC at 35 was about 70-78dB for one of the pieces I was listening to, and w/o the Rothwells, the SPL was ard the same level when the ARC was at 25, there was a tactile feedback I was getting with the Rothwells in place. I think that's the transient/dynamics part of it at play.

My speakers are about 8 feet apart and I sit about 8 feet away.

I use XLR (ASI Liveline) from XDS1 to pre and XLR (Silversmith Silver) from pre to power.
I see you have a similar situation as me, high efficiency loudspeaker matched with a: 2 volt output preamp, and a 500mv input sensitivity amplifier. If you find the attenuator route degrades the sonic qualities (I can't imagine it not) the other answer is the find a better match with the input / output relationship. Right now your preamp at 1/4 power is driving your amp to full power.
Thanks doggie, what do you mean by "tactile feedback"?

I have the Livelines on trial here now... visited the lovely and lively Mr. Tchang a couple of weeks ago. Good stuff.
For me, there is audible bass and there is tactile bass which is transmitted through the floor, the sofa etc.

I am getting a fair bit more of that with the Rothwells installed and at a lower level SPL than what I normally listen to. w/o the Rothwells and at those SPL, the music doesn't seem to pack as much punch.
Hello, Rothwells have arrived yesterday here too. One pair RCA and one XLR.
I'll report soon on my impressions.
Have a good weekend.
Keep us posted :)

why do you need both RCA and XLR?

First of all, I need both RCA and XLR as I have two setups which I alternate, one with the Jadis monos and either Ref5 or Karan KAL Ref MKII preamps, this setup is fully balanced, and one with the Sati 520b, which only takes RCA.
Both setups use the CD7 as source and therefore the "problem" as this player has a very high gain.

After a couple of days with the Rothwells, I can only speak highly of what they did in my living room. I first ran the RCA's which started a bit flat, lacking extension and dynamics but after what seemed to be a short burn-in period they opened up. The XLR were ready to go from the first minute installed.

In both cases, the effect was positive in many aspects, lower noise floor, darker back ground, wider and deeper sound stage, faster highs and mids, much more controlled bass (and with the Euforidtes you must control the bass...), etc while I couldn't detect any negative impact.
I'm not an expert but I guess that most up sides here are due to the ability to play at higher volume settings.

Bottom line, from my point of view, after a two day trial, highly recommended.

Glad it worked for you too.