Amarra sQ Volume Settings Questions
May 7, 2015 at 8:45 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

elnero

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I didn't see any dedicated Amarra sQ threads and wasn't sure where else the best place to post this question would be so I figured it would be best to ask it in a new thread.
 
I've recently been using Tidal via Amarra sQ to my Resonessence Concero HP on my MacBook Air. I thought I understood the proper way to set the volume but I was looking through the documentation and have become really confused.
 
When setting up sQ you get a message that reads " For best results system volume should be set to full. Then use the slider to adjust volume." So this is how I had it set up:
  1. In the Mac's system sound preferences I have the Concero set to full volume.
  2. In Tidal volume is set to full
  3. Control volume via sliders in sQ
 
Running like this the average listening volume in sQ is around -34 and the level meters are always a solid green and don't move a whole lot.
 

 
However, reading through the sQ set up documentation I came across this which suggests my settings are much too low.
 

 
The problem I have is, in order to bring the levels up to something similar as what's shown as being good volume level I need to reduce the Concero's volume in the Mac system preferences (or on the slider in the top bar) to about 60 - 70%. I can then raise the volume on the slider in sQ to somewhere around the -3 mark which gives similar meter readings to what's considered "good".
 
This seems to contradict the initial message to set the system volume to full, but when I set the system volume to full, according to the info above, the volume level is too low so I'm minimizing the benefit of sQ.
 
The other thing that's confusing, if I follow the diagram above and get the meters averaging something like the one depicting good volume level, adjusting the Concero's volume doesn't affect the meters in sQ. Does that suggest it's actually better to adjust the Concero's volume instead of the volume slider in sQ?
 
Any help, suggestions, insights, etc. would be greatly appreciated.
 
May 8, 2015 at 12:10 AM Post #2 of 7

MindsMirror

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For maximum quality you want software volume settings as high as possible without causing clipping. Then you adjust the volume at the last stage which would typically be the analog volume potentiometer on your amp.
 
I am not sure how your Concero amp/DAC works. You say that you control the Concero's volume in the Mac's settings. What does the knob on the Concero do, does it control volume? Is it an analog potentiometer? If so, do as the documentation says and use the knob to adjust the volume. Is it a rotary encoder that changes the Concero volume setting in your Mac? If so, it is possibly a digitally controlled analog volume, in which case you should use that to adjust the volume.
 
May 8, 2015 at 6:01 AM Post #3 of 7

elnero

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  For maximum quality you want software volume settings as high as possible without causing clipping. Then you adjust the volume at the last stage which would typically be the analog volume potentiometer on your amp.
 
I am not sure how your Concero amp/DAC works. You say that you control the Concero's volume in the Mac's settings. What does the knob on the Concero do, does it control volume? Is it an analog potentiometer? If so, do as the documentation says and use the knob to adjust the volume. Is it a rotary encoder that changes the Concero volume setting in your Mac? If so, it is possibly a digitally controlled analog volume, in which case you should use that to adjust the volume.


Thanks for the reply. That makes sense and it's probably where it's getting a little confusing as well. The Concero HP's volume knob actually controls the system volume so if I turn the knob I can see the levels change on my MacBook Air. According to the Concero's documentation
 
"On the MAC and on Windows, the volume control knob of the CONCERO HP controls the volume in the operating system (it is not a volume control within the CONCERO electronics). For example, on Windows when the CONCERO is the default audio device, the volume control (which is made visible by clicking on the speaker icon on the task bar by the clock) will move as the volume knob is adjusted.
 
Please note: on both the MAC and on Windows the initial setting of the volume control is 0dB! This is the loudest and will be far too loud for comfortable listening.
 
After the first use of the CONCERO HP the operating system will restore the last volume used."
 
I'd also not that at 0 db the HP's output level is 3.5 VRMS.
 
With those things in mind I'd guess that my best bet is to try to find a balance between the Amarra and the Concero HP's volume, much like what I described in my original post, setting the Concero's level to around 60 - 70% and sQ's level around -3 which then has the volume levels in sQ much higher without clipping. Would this be correct?
 
May 8, 2015 at 12:04 PM Post #4 of 7

MindsMirror

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(it is not a volume control within the CONCERO electronics)

That's interesting. I thought it would at least use a digitally controlled analog volume, but since it says that, it might just be fixed.
 
Since all your volume controls seem to be software, you could set the Concero volume high and lower the sQ volume or vice-versa. There would not be a difference so just do whichever you prefer or is more convenient.
 
May 8, 2015 at 8:40 PM Post #6 of 7

elnero

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  Strange, the Resonessence website says the volume control is the internal volume control of the ESS DAC.
As it is USB, the slider of the HP in Win  (or Mac) sends control commands to the Concero
 
http://www.resonessencelabs.com/invicta/faq/#concero-volume


That was my recollection of how the volume worked as well so I was somewhat surprised when I went looking last night and read what I quoted in the User Guide. It's strange, I wonder which is correct. I guess an email to Mark Mallinson asking for clarification is in order.
 
May 11, 2015 at 9:23 PM Post #7 of 7

elnero

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I got a reply from Mark Mallinson first thing this morning. He confirmed that the correct info is what's written in the FAQ:
 
"The operation of the volume control on the CONCERO HP changes the volume on the player application, but that application then sends the the volume control level back to the CONCERO and CONCERO implements a volume control in the 32 bit digital domain of the Sabre DAC. This is the best of both worlds: you can adjust the volume either on the CONCERO HP front panel knob, or on the music player software control, in both cases you are getting the high quality internal volume control of the Sabre DAC chip. You are not using an inferior software based volume control."
 
So the original info I found in the User Guide that says "it is not a volume control within the CONCERO electronics" is seemingly wrong.
 

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