Volume Control at low level

Good afternoon, On my 10 year old Unitilite, and regardless of whether I use the slider control on the app or the remote control handset, I have never been able to achieve a low enough volume - the lowest level (1) is now a bit too loud for the room and simply adjusting the maximum output level via the app doesn’t do the trick. Changing the speakers had no effect. I wondered whether there might, for example, be a device that I could put between the unit and the speakers to give a greater degree of fine volume control than I currently have, please? Many thanks for any thoughts

Wow! Are the speakers very efficient? What are they?

Added attenuation is normally done between source and amp - obviously not possible here. There may be some Pro PA type device for post amplifier attenuation but I don’t know for sure, and would imagine there would be a considerable performance penalty here.

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Thank you for this swift and helpful reply. The speakers are Dali Opticons and the previous ones were KEF 100s. To my ears, the Dalis are an improvement particularly with higher notes. I take your point about performance as such degradation would negate the benefit of the quality output. I suppose that it’s really a question of which is more important so I think I’ll just leave it as it is - and you may well have saved me some money too!

Dali Opticons 6s are 88dB sensitivity according to What HiFi so should be fine.

You could add a 20-50 ohm resistor in the speaker cables - that would cut the volume down substantially but would waste a lot of power and may degrade the sound quality.

You shouldn’t really be having this issue - has it always been this way?

Yes, I suppose it has always been the same but now, in a smaller room, it is more noticeable. It’s not super important but sometimes, I just want to listen to music quietly at the volume somewhere 0 and 1. I think that the resistor was more or less what I had in mind. I didn’t realise that there would be a quality degradation though.

I think any resistor would adversly affect the frequency response of your speakers.

It may or may not. Try it and see, they’re pretty cheap.

Amplifier designers go to a lot of trouble to minimise the output impedance of their amplifier designs, adding at 20-50 ohm resistor will negate all their hard work and some. Its going to impact the effective amplifier damping factor too. Not to mention all of the huff and puff of using phat speaker cables and posh connectors, adding a resistor in circuit sounds like a terrible idea.

If you really must you could consider using an attenuator in the line level signal path, whilst this isn’t great its no where near as bad as putting resistance in the speaker path.


Sounds like a need for a “passive preamp”.

There will almost certainly be a significant degradation of sound quality:
The frequency response will be very uneven and the speaker will be under-damped.
Even using a series-parallel resistor network, although giving less degradation will still significantly affect the sound.

Unless you’re trying to set it to very low background levels, there may be a hardware problem with the Unitilite. A Naim dealer may be prepared to test it for you to see if it isn’t performing as it should. Another option is to use a sound pressure meter; although the ones on 'phones aren’t accurate, they may still be accurate enough to pick up any gross issue with the volume.

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That is an excellent idea as if will enable understanding as to whether there is anything abnormal with the system or if the OP simply listens a lot more quietly than most. To the OP: at the listening position, and tell us how far you are from the speakers.

There have been several threads discussing such devices, this being the furst to come up in a search:

This is all very helpful, thany you. I can see that i need to do a bit more research but will have a try on the sound pressure meter as a first step…

The average dB level, at the lowest setting I can have, is around 40 with a max of 60. And I sit somewhere between 2-3m from the speakers. I suspect that, having seen the sort of level that others enjoy, I am being unrealistic in wanting around 20/25 as a rough average! But you have given me this a very informative set of replies for which I am very grateful. I may dip my toe in the water with one of the other suggestions later to see if I could live with any change in quality!

Wow, average 40 dB at listening position seems incredibly low. What is your room background sound level (i.e. with no music playing)?

On a dbA weighting (which I think most refer to), that is equivalent to hearing a whisper from several feet away. How did you determine you want to achieve 20 - 25db average?

I am pushing average 85’s when listening at night. I get this maybe louder than some would want but doubtful my system would get to that magic 20-25 without the volume being turning to nothing and then just having the residual sound coming through.

It’s 25-30. Which makes me think that my earlier desire for 20-25 is ridiculously unrealistic. Maybe I should have gone for 35 ish!

It was just a guess based on about half of the way between 40 on setting 1 on the app and 0 being the mute. However I now realise (my reply to IB) that this is wrong

That is v helpful thank you