Volume leveling again

Thanks I will experiment with that. I have not played with that at all.

Thanks Bill. And which DAC?

23LUFS is a relatively new standard to steer the industry from over compression. Roon has settled on that as a default but it may not work for you depending on your tastes and the history of your library.

Sorry! The DAC is an Anedio D2, an early Sabre 9018 but done really well. My friend here has a Lumin S1 with Audio Research REF 6 Pre and GS 150’s into Wilson Sasha’s and my little rig holds its own. :wink:

But, with tube regulation for inputs, outputs and tube rectification; its not really fair fight. :slight_smile:

I think his Lumin S1 costs more then my whole system!

And volume levelling sounds the same on his system as well… So i don’t think it has anything to do with the front end.

You have a nice system indeed. Report back after trying Tony’s tip above, adjusting the default LUFS value.

Thanks Tony. I will try this out.

Adjust progressively down. You can do this even in mid track. Many prefer getting closer to the perceived loudness with leveling switched off. But don’t go crazy and bust your ears or your speakers. A good compromise is -20 or -18 so you get some of the dynamics back you have subjectively lost but you also get the benefits of leveling.

Very cool! I can’t wait to try this. But I only have 24 watts, so the speakers should be ok. :slight_smile:

I actually don’t like to play too loud anyway. I seem to average at 50 db or so.

I landed at -18 because it results in very little attenuation (1-2 db or so) on albums that I feel are already the “right” level—original CDs, audiophile releases, etc. The more dynamically compromised, the more leveling, the less it matters to me for subjective sound quality.

Awesome, I am at -18 right now listening to Muddy Waters Folk Singer (a 192/24 version) and it’s -1.4 dB and it sounds perfect. So far so good!

So far -18 is working for me. Thanks so much to everyone in this thread. I am very happy!

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Great to hear it’s working for you now. I set it at the lowest level, which I seem to recall is -15, and I only turn it on when having Roon mix things up via Roon Radio. When listening to entire albums my piano remote comes out when necessary.

I am finding -18 and lower loosing too much. Are there any implications of me going say --14 as its sounds better for me and I dont have to adjust the volume too much for other sources on my system.

Hey Simon, I stopped using it. Even at the most conservative settings, it still reduced dynamics.

I’m in the same boat. The sound is noticeably flatter when volume leveling is enabled. I have tried all the settings between -23 to -14. I thought it was all in my head, but it is really quite obvious and I finally accepted it wasn’t me. I now have it permanently off.

My system is good, but overall reasonably modest. SMS-200 Neo, Marantz HD-DAC1, Marantz Pearl Lite Integrated and PMC Twenty.22 speakers.

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It’s curious that our experiences vary so widely. My experience has been just the opposite of many of you. I notice no dynamic range loss, in fact I prefer it set to -14LUFS all the time to avoid being blasted by overly compressed content while playing random or Roon Radio selected tracks. Most tracks are only attenuated 0-4dB, and yet others are still boosted by a small amount, and heavily ‘loudness’ tracks are attenuated 7-12dB. Dynamic content remains dynamic and compressed content is less LOUD.


Just a thought but I wonder if any of this could come down to the amps? I generally need to turn the volume up more with levelling enabled, even with a LUFS of 14 - I wonder if any of the differences that people hear might be attributable to variations in distortion from different amps at these different volumes?

I’m not sure where the concern about lost dynamics comes from. Digital attenuation in 64-bit space should have no loss to anything for 16-bit music unless you’re converting down to a 16-bit old DAC, which Roon cautions you about with a “yellow” light (I do have one such DAC.) Even down to 24-bit for 24-bit music shouldn’t have any impact. Roon is doubtfully doing any compression. Spotify used to get a lot of hate for doing so, but I think they’ve curbed it on the “quiet” setting. If you’re LIFTING levels for quiet tracks and pushing into limiting or clipping, sure, you lose detail or dynamics, but does Roon’s implementation even lift? Tidal’s own does not. So far it has not been applied to any of my tracks (using album normalization.)

Roon, at least on the surface, has a very nice implementation, with 64-bit processing. And nobody (with hearing remaining) is listening in 24-bits of dynamics anyway. Loss from normalization should result in lost information into the noise floor or above the ceiling (clip/limit). Which is the same thing that happens with an analog attenuator. Not compression, with the exception of a limiter being applied. That’s never happening when trimming.

I wonder if, without level adjustment, some people are hearing input/output clipping, or distortion at the upper edge, on their analog stages and actually find it to be euphonically pleasing distortion, as opposed to hearing DR compression they think they’re hearing? Or they just aren’t adjusting their gain to compensate? It might “sound better” the same way tubes often sound better, but it doesn’t mean it’s actually better, it’s actually adding distortion/noise vs. digially adjusting the levels.

Personally I’ve been leaving mine set to -16 since it matches iTunes Sound Check, and that’s the other app I’m likely to play. Saves me from being blasted when switching, though Spotify and Tidal’s app can still be startling when switching (-14 respectively.)

A special middle finger goes out to Qobuz though, who insists on not tagging their music and blasts my ears anyway, even through Roon, when playing them. I’d be better off with Spotify… :roll_eyes:


I agree, in theory bits shouldn’t be getting lost and the dynamic range should not be impacted.

Further to my previous post, I’ve just tried volume levelling again and it appears to now sound perfectly fine. The only difference in my case is that due to circumstances (as my SMS-200 has been sent for repair) I’m now connecting to my DAC directly with a Mac Mini with Roonserver running on it. Previously Roonserver was running on a QNAP NAS via ethernet to the SMS-200. I’ll experiment tonight feeding the Mac Mini as an endpoint only to see if I ‘perceive’ the same issue.

Perhaps my issue could be elsewhere.

  • Roonserver on the QNAP NAS could have an issue / bug?
  • The SMS-200 given it has been crashing and now requires repair could have been impacting sound quality all along, which I incorrectly deduced to be volume levelling related.