a small query regarding my setup..


Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2008
hi guys,
i saw resident evil extinction on bluray & was blown away with the sound of dolby trueHD, i want to know wat is the max volume i can go in the yamahaRXV 661, the specs for yammy here-

here are my speakers specs-
Speakers from Jamo

Speakers from Jamo

i watched RE Extinction on -12db volume & was blown away with the sound & clarity, i m using ps3 for playing blurays & got DRC switched to OFF in the ps3 settings, wat ur'll guys think is the MAX safe zone i can keep the volume on, can i go below -10db?? thanks in advance,
Have you calibrated your HT using a SPL meter. If you haven't you should. Once you do that you have would have a ballpark as to where the reference volume is then you can be careful once u go up that level.

I have my Yamaha rx-v661 calibrated to 75 db SPL level at 0db volume level. As soon as i cross this level im a little careful.
i use the YPAO feature of the rxv661 to calibrate my system, it did everything automatic, i guess playing Blu-ray with dolby trueHD from a ps3 at -12db should be safe i guess:confused: the max volume of the rxv661 is +16db,
the power of the speakers & the rxv661 are pretty similar the yammy rxv661-90w & speakers are around 130w long term, doesnt that mean i can go close to the limit;) thanks..
sorry for deviating from this thread guys...
am a little confused on the db levels on an amp and was hoping you could provide me with some clarity. i've got a stereo set up. different cds/amps etc show different db levels at a specific loudness level that comes out of the speaker. how do we get a true figure out
Then I'm confused why some amps show their volume in -db (eg. -25 db) levels as well as +db levels. What does 0 db reference level mean for these amps?
Why do modern amplifiers show volume as dB? And what is ??dB?

For a long time, amplifiers had a largish knob that you turn to increase the sound from the system. Just behind the knob on the body, there will be a series of numbers from 0 to say 10 printed like in a clock. The knob will have a small mark on top that will represent what position it is in compared to the numbers. As you turn the knob clockwise, a pot inside will instruct the amplifier to send more power to the speakers. Most of us are used to this way of increasing or decreasing the sound from our system. What does this represent? Power, volume,..... ?

A Watt is a unit of measurement that is used to represent amplifier power or the energy output of the amplifier. Let us say we are using a 100 watt amplifier. If we have the knob at position 1 to start with, then move it to position 6, have we increased the volume of sound 5 fold? Actually no, And, that is where ??decibels?? come in.

A Decibel is a combination of two words - 'deci' (one-tenth) and 'bel' which is a unit of sound. The word 'bel' is in deference to Alexander Bell who invented the telephone. The human ear perceives sound based upon air pressure exerted on the diaphragm inside the ear. Now there is always some sound around you and this is termed as ambient sound pressure. The extent of a particular sound is measured as a deviation from ambient sould pressure and this is generally represented by a unit called Pascal. There are two sound pressures - Instantaneous, and Effective. Instantaneous sound pressure is the deviation from ambient pressure caused by a sound wave at a given location and given instant in time. Effective sound pressure is measured as Root Mean Square (RMS) square of the instantaneous sound pressure over a given interval of time. The total sound pressure is a sum of ambient sound pressure, and sound pressure deviation. The sound pressure deviation is calculated using two factors - force of air pressure (caused by the sound) and area covered. In wattage this is represented as watts per square meter (watt/sq.meter).

Units of measurement are of two types - absolute and relative. A ??feet?? is an absolute unit as 0 (zero) feet means there is no length at all. Similarly when you say 0 litres of water, it means there is no water at all in the container.

As I said above, sound pressure is always there. The human ear is extremely sensitive and can react to a very large range of sound pressure. Since power of a sound wave is proportional to the square of the pressure, the ratio of minimum pressure to maximum pressure is roughly a trillion! A good ear can actually discern sound that is 0.000000000001 watt/sq. meter!! Now how do you compare 0.000000000001 watt/sq. meter with 1 watt/sq.meter? We can of course say 1 to the power -12, but that is an awkward way for regular use. Thus you use what is called a logarithmic scale.

As we discussed we have two factors - the ambient sound pressure (P(Ref)) and deviant sound pressure (P).

Thus sound pressure level (L) is calculated as follows:

L = 10Log(base 10)*[(P*Squared)/(P(Ref)Squared)] which is equivalent to 20Log(base 10) *(P/P(Ref)). This logarithmic value is represented in dB.

The Log of 1 (watt/sq.meter) is 0dB (zero). The log of 0.000000000001 (watt/sq. meter) calculated as above is -24dB. Now the comparison of these two sound pressure is easy, is it not?

Examples of Deviant Sound Pressure
To give you an idea of what dB represents here are some practical examples:

>> 180 dB << Nuclear explosion at 160 km
>> 150 dB << Jet engine at 30 m
>> 140 dB << Rifle being fired at 1 m
>> 130 dB << Threshold of pain
>> 100 dB << Jack hammer at 1 m
>> 60-80 dB << Passenger car at 10 m
>> 60 dB << TV set at 1 m
>> 40-60 dB << Normal Human voice 1 m
>> 20-30 dB << Very quite room
>> 10 dB << Leaves rustling, calm breathing

Decibel & Volume
As an user how am I concerned with all these? Simple. Wattage does not represent any usable value. A watt, as I said, represents the energy output of an amplifier. Unfortunately the relationship between amplifier output and loudness is not straightforward. If you play an amp at 50 watts, keep everything equal, and play it again at 100 watts, the deviant sound pressure is only 3dB. It generally takes an amplifier with 10 times the power to generate 10dB difference in sound pressure. Why 10dB? Because loudness is subjective and cannot be measured. Loudness can also be different for two different people. So some experiments were done, and it is generally agreed that what people perceive as being 'twice as loud' need an increase in sound pressure of +10dB. And that needs 10 times more power from the amplifier!

So next time you are listening to some music as 50dB, and then increase it to 60dB, remember you are now listening at twice the previous volume.

OK. But What is Minus dB
As I said before, there is sound all around us all the time. Unless you are living in perfect vacuum, there is no such thing as 0 (zero) sound pressure, and cannot be measured in absolute terms. To measure sound pressure deviation, we need to set a base level. In the audio industry, the base level has been set at 20 micro Pascals, which is considered to be at the threshold of human hearing. In addition this is also calculated at 1000Hz or 1Khz. Most measurements of audio equipment are made relative to this base level that is set at zero (0dB). In comparison a Jack Hammer at 1 m will be roughly 2 Pascals and 100dB. Since the base level is not an absolute zero, you will be able to hear sounds that are less than zero or negative. And these are represented as Minus xxxdB (-xxxdB)

Last edited:
hi venkat
have always read in the forum about your detailed and educative answers to queries but have never been on the receiving end until now. it was highly instructive and answered the question perfectly. you are a huge asset to this forum. keep it coming
Thanks for the detailed answer. There is one question I still have: The -db levels on most receivers I've seen are quite loud in sound output. So I think the 0db level for these is calibrated at a different level than ambient surround levels. Denon, for e.g. has a volume range from -80db to +18 db, which is asymmetrical about 0 db.

Does anyone have an idea of what 0db corresponds to for such receivers?
Buy from India's official online dealer!