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  1. #1

    Member Sales Rating: (6)

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Alexandria, VA

    Default Do Different Preamp Volumes Work the Tubes Differently?

    Just received my first piece of tubed audio gear today:

    - an ARC LS-15 Preamp

    Does running the volume louder on the Preamp "work" or "use" the tubes more?

    I ask because the balanced ouput from my DAC is obviously a lot stronger than the SE output, so when I run balanced, I keep the volume on the preamp at about 25%, but when I run SE, I keep the volume closer to 50%.

    So does running SE, with the volume set twice as high, use the tubes more, or impart more tube flavor onto the signal?

    I could see this as being a good or bad thing, depending on what you were trying to achieve.

    Thanks, tube gurus!

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's


    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  2. #2

    Member Sales Rating: (0)

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Silicon Valley


    It has been a long time since I have worked with hardware, but let me try to explain this. If this is wrong I am sure someone will correct it.

    Let's look at this from an electrical perspective. A signal comes into the pre at some voltage level, and leaves at another level. The electronics involved, including the tubes, amplify this signal. So, if one input has a voltage input of 1, another input has a voltage level of 2, and the output voltage is 5 for both inputs, then most of the electronics will be doing the same work for both inputs. The primary difference will be the resistance setting of the volume control (usually some type of variable resistor). After the signal leaves the volume control it will be the same level whether from input A or input B. Without seeing a schematic I would guess that the tubes are in the circuit after the volume control, so both inputs work the tubes the same, assuming the output level is the same for both inputs.

  3. #3

    Member Sales Rating: (12)

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Plainfield, Illinois


    IIRC, balanced out is higher gain than unbalanced. Like 3dB or more. I can and have run balanced, but my current pre is not balanced. You are driving them harder/higher with more gain. You'll be the first to know when you run out of power.

    Oh, congrats on the new gear!
    Last edited by SCompRacer; 09-22-2011 at 10:42 PM.
    Make yourself necessary to someone. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  4. #4

    Member Sales Rating: (1)

    Join Date
    Apr 2007


    SE will impart more tube flavor to the signal. It is the nature of the beast.
    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Smith View Post

    That's like working your way through Katie Perry in order to get to Rosie O'Donnell.

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