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Quick question about setting the gain..

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Damani311, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. "After all EQ settings and the Aural Enhancer are set, the Gain control should be raised until the preamp clip LED barely flashes when your loudest note is struck. This will insure maximum signal to noise ratio and prevent unwanted clipping of the preamp section"

    Um, what is the MASTER VOLUME supposed to be set at?

    Kind of important here
  2. uaudio


    Apr 11, 2008
    I assume you are talking about an SWR since you mention the Aural Enhancer. The master volume is supposed to be set to however loud you want it. Gain controls the input of the signal into the preamp, and the tone will be effected by higher gain settings. The master volume just takes the sound from the preamp - EQ, aural enhancer, gain - and amplifies it cleanly to a volume level of your choosing.
  3. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    +1, master volume is set by determining how loud you want the amp.
  4. Uhm, this is talking about how loud to set up the gain, as part of the amp's "initial setup"

    With the master off, I can turn it all the way up.

    With the master all the way up, I can barely turn it up at all.

    They had to have a setting in mind, otherwise........well, what would YOU recommend I set the master at, noon?

    EDIT: I Can not get the preamp to clip, AT ALL. Had the master and gain on MAX, thought I was going to break my windows, seriously. Never heard anything like it before, almost brought me to tears.

    So should I just leave the gain on MAX, as long as I like the sound?
  5. uaudio


    Apr 11, 2008
  6. David1234


    Jun 1, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    Endorsing Artist: SWR Amplifiers
    Start with the master on zero, use the Passive input even if your bass is active, and turn the gain up til you see or hear clipping. If you don't hear any, great, it means that with your quiet bass you can run the gain on full. Then use the Master to choose a musically appropriate loudness level. Enjoy!
  7. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Yep, that's what these guys are talking about too.
    Not at all. There is no recommended setting for Master Volume. Set "Gain" for flavor, and set Master Volume for how loud you want it. That's it. I'm going to repeat that in a second. ;)
    You can do anything you like with the Gain knob, it is there specifically for getting the tone you want, from one end of the knob-turn to the other.

    Set "Gain" for flavor, and set Master Volume for how loud you want it. That's it.
  8. K just wondering because many people complain about turning the gain up too high, is it normal for it to be all the way on?
  9. Are you saying that you can't get the clip light to come on even with the pre gain all the way up?

    If so, make sure you are using the 'passive input' not the active, regardless of whether you have a preamp in your bass.

    As said above, setting the pre gain is about tone and optimal signal to noise ratio, and has NOTHING to do with volume (which is what the master volume is for).

    The pregain allows you to keep the amp performing the same even with basses that have very different output strings.

    Another way to think about it... the pre gain is how much signal coming into your amp. Too much, and it will distort, even at low volumes. Too little, you might not have enough signal to drive the amp to full power, and if the amp is a little noisy, that noise will be amplified more when you crank the master. The master controls how much of that signal is reaching your speakers (i.e., volume). Of course, they interact. The higher you have the pre gain (i.e., the signal coming INTO the amp), the louder the amp will be at a given master volume setting. The way most deal with this is to get the hottest signal before clip (that little light that comes on when the preamp input is clipping) using the pre gain control, and THEN using the master to adjust volume.
  10. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Um, are you running the bass' volume wide open? I can't imagine any bass with an output so low that it won't trigger the clip LED with the pre-gain all the way up. What you're trying to do is set the initial amplification stage so it's at the optimum for YOUR bass and how YOU play. If the gain is too low, the later stages of the amp will amplify more noise. If the gain is too high, you're going to create distortion. So, setting the preamp gain is totally independent of where the master volume is set.

    As everyone else says, start with the master all the way off. Turn your bass up all the way, set the bass' on-board EQ the way you normally set it up, plug into the passive input, hit your lowest string as hard as you will while actually playing a gig. Then turn the pre-gain control up until the clip light starts to flash. That's where you're clipping the input amp. Then turn the master volume up to the point that's right for the gig.

  11. Thanks for all the replies!!! Sorry to beat this horse to death...

    With the bass plugged into the active line input, yes I cannot get it to clip at all.

    It clips with the gain at about 4 PM in the passive, should I leave it here?

    However, with the gain at 3 PM and the Master at noon the whole house shakes, should I really be plugging it into the passive input just because I can't make the preamp clip?
  12. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    What kind of bass? Do you have the volume turned all the way up? I can't imagine that the gain won't clip with one of the Warwick basses turned all the way up and the gain all the way as well. But to answer you question, FORGET ABOUT THE MASTER VOLUME AT FIRST! Set that thing on about 1 or so. It has nothing to do with anything while setting the preamp section. The only thing the master volume controls is the power amp AFTER everything else. So....(just like the other guys said) turn the master volume WAY DOWN. Then make absolutely sure the VOLUME CONTROL ON YOUR BASS IS TURNED ALL THE WAY UP (or at least mostly all the way). Plug into the active/passive input. Set your EQ section FLAT (meaning the the low, mid, and treble controls are set to ZERO (on my SWR that means the white lines on the knobs will be pointing straight up). Then start plucking a note pretty hard on your bass while slowly turning the gain knob up. When it starts blinking STOP turning it. If it doesn't ever blink, then something is wrong with your bass or something is wrong with the LED light on your amp. If it does start blinking, then start tweeking the EQ knobs to get the tone you want. Again, the Master Volume knob has nothing to do with ANYTHING except cranking up the power amp in your head (bass head...not the one on your shoulders). ALL of the other knobs are for tweeking the tone and input gain BEFORE you set the volume.
  13. No problem on your questions. Once you 'get it', it's simple, but nothing is simple when you first start thinking about this stuff.

    OK, here we go.

    1) Unless you are clipping the pre with the pre gain set very low (which you obviously aren't) you should ALWAYS use the passive input, even if you have an active bass. The active input is usually nothing more than a channel that has a 'input level reducing capacitor' in it to keep a very hot bass from clipping the output.

    So.. first thing... plug into the passive input.

    2) DO NOT keep thinking about the pre gain as a 'volume control', even though it impacts volume... more on that below. Here's how you set it:

    -plug your bass into the passive input
    - turn the master volume down to around 9 o'clock. The master is again the VOLUME control, and you don't want to blow your ears out when setting the pre gain appropriately.
    - Now, with the master volume down so that the amp doesn't get really loud, POUND on your open E string with your right hand (assuming you are right handed). In other words, pluck or slap or pick or whatever as loud as you ever would when really digging in on your bass.
    - With your other (left hand), slowly increase the pre gain control until the pre clip light comes on. If it does come on, back the pre gain off (while still pounding the heck out of your E string) until the light doesn't come on. If it never comes on (I still don't believe it:smug:), then just set it at about 1 o'clock (the generic 'safe' setting on most amps).
    - Now, and ONLY now do you think about VOLUME. Now, turn the Master up or down to adjust how loud your amp is.

    This will be the 'optimum' setting for a nice clean tone. The good news is, once you figure out that optimum setting for the pre gain, you never really need to change it again, since again it's more about optimal signal level going into the preamp versus how LOUD your amp is.

    I think what might be confusing you is that, yes, at a fixed master volume level, turning up the pre gain will make the amp louder. However, don't think about it that way. View that pre gain control as more of a tone control (i.e., when you turn the bass control up, your amp gets 'louder' aslo, although only in a specific frequency range).

    Hope this is starting to make sense.
  14. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    What Ken speaks is true. It seems complex at first, but if you master the way this works now, it will work the same on all of you future bass amps. :)

    Control your 'loudness' with your main or master Volume, not your pre-amp setting. It also helps you get the most out of your EQ section on your amp.
  15. Thanks alot everyone, got it now!

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