Volume Control Too Sensitive

My latest issue:

As some of you may be aware I have a Bryston BP-26 preamp connected to a pair of Classe CAM-200 monoblock amps.

My issue is that I have very little range on my volume knob. If looked at as a clockface, I can only go from 6 to 7 using XLR cables, and 6 to 8 using RCA cables.

Not only is this lack of range annoying using the remote control, but I question if the sound is compromised by the fact that I’m just using such a small portion of the volume knob.

Any thoughts on this?

Sounds like a gain mismatch. Is the gain adjustable on your preamp?

Is that where any adjustment, if available, would be? on the preamp side?

Not every designer provides a means to adjust gain. My preamp has a gain adjustment. Yours may not. I don’t know.

Look at your manual…It has adjustable gain… 16.5 or 22.5dB (internally reconfigurable)
It’s probably set at 22.5 db

I just saw the same thing but the gain adjustment looks like it’s for the step-up transformer for MC cartridge use.

I think your right Ron…:+1:

What DAC are you using? If you use a PS Audio DSD DAC, you can get rid of your preamp and use the volume on the DAC which has high or low gain and will sound better anyway than putting a preamp like the Bryston in the signal path, unless you are using vinyl as your source.

That’s the downside of gain. Lots of people think of gain as 100% positive, but one of its insidious effects is a loss of functionality in the volume control. You lose necessary fine increments of adjustment when you put a new amp in the system and 0-12 clicks of the preamp’s volume (in whatever its unit of measure) is now accomplished with 0-4 clicks.

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This discussion of gain matching demonstrates some of the importance of system synergy.

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a pair of line attenuators between pre and power amps will sort this (and i say again: power amps should have attenuators built in) :slight_smile:

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Joma0711’s suggestion to try in-line attenuators is a relatively low cost work around worth trying. I’ve got a pair of -10db. Rothwell attenuators that I’ve used in preamp/amp gain mismatch situations. In some equipment pairings there is a slight loss of high frequency detail but in others I’ve not heard any deleterious effects. I’ve always avoided any preamp with more than 11-12 db. of gain because of the problems the OP is having and even then a rotary ALPS type volume potentiometer can be restricted to a 1/4 of the volume pots range with 86-87db. efficient speakers and an amp with gain in the mid 20’s.

Do you know the gain of your pre & amps? Is either adjustable?
Is the issue worse with some sources as opposed to others? If you have a phono pre in the circuit that units gain is in the equation as well


Agreed, these can be quite useful at times. My preamp is also switchable 6 or 12db
Many phono preamps have adjustable gain as well. If you have a stand alone SUT there’s even more variables

Getting overall system gain correct is essential and allows a wider range of the volume control

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Indeed - I’m all about gain structure :slight_smile: