Newbie Question on Yamaha HT-5960 receiver and decibel levels

Discussion in 'Beginners and Audiophytes' started by BrentS, Nov 18, 2007.

  1. BrentS Audiophyte

    BrentS
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    So, maybe this is a dumb question, however, I'll give it a shot...

    I installed a Yamaha HTR-5960 Receiver in my Family Room (along with a Sony LCD and Directv HD-DVR). How come my volume levels are showing in negative decibels? Shouldn't 0 dB be absolutely quiet and positive dBs be louder? I routinely watch the TV at -40 dB on my receiver. What gives? Did I set something or configure something incorrectly?

    Thanks for anwering a newbie's question!
  2. Seth=L Audioholic Overlord

    Seth=L
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    It reads as relative decibel rating. There is nothing you can do to change it. To be perfectly honest I have never seen an explanation for why they do this (am sure there is a logical reason, I just don't know the answer). You need not worry, as it is designed to read that way. Low end Sony receivers, for example, show Absolute volume where it starts at 0 and works its way up.

    Someone correct me if I got the titles for each volume scale backwards. It is 2:30 A.M. and I haven't had much caffeine to compensate.:)
  3. mtrycrafts Audioholic Slumlord

    mtrycrafts
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    It is the way that was established in the industry with 0dB being full scale signal and anything below it is negatively designated. I imagine that in mastering you don't want to get above the full scale, 0 in this case. If it wasn't like this, how would they designate full scale, 100? 80?
    So, it is best at 0 and so everything is likewise in reference to 0 full scale.
  4. MDS Audioholic Spartan

    MDS
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    You certainly haven't been paying attention as I've explained it no less than two dozen times. :D

    Yes, the scale with negative numbers is known as the 'relative' scale - as in everything is relative to 0. It has no meaning until you calibrate levels. If you follow the Dolby conventions and calibrate so that 0 is 'reference level' (105 dB peaks) then -10 dB on the display means that you are 10 dB below 'reference'; ie 95 dB peaks.

    The 'absolute' scale (0 - whatever) is no different. It is jut not as convenient for determining at a glance how far away from 'reference' you are.

    On the absolute scale, 0 would be silence. On the relative scale, 0 is reference level and -80 or -infinity( however low it goes) is silence.

    Despite the fact that 0 dB may have some defined voltage level, like 'unity gain', it means absolutely nothing. The volume display could read A-Z and it would be the same (it just wouldn't make sense as we are conditioned to think of volume as a numeric quantity).
    MDS,
  5. BrentS Audiophyte

    BrentS
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    Thanks guys. So it sounds like (hah, pun intened) that I can't do anything about it and I just live with the negative numbers :)
  6. Seth=L Audioholic Overlord

    Seth=L
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    I drift in and out.:)

    Thank you for the information though.:)
  7. mtrycrafts Audioholic Slumlord

    mtrycrafts
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    Yep, just live with it as you would if we just converted to the metric system:D

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