Line input vs Phono input levels


I have tried connecting both my Denon SC5000M and a friend’s SC6000M units to different mixers/models, Allen & Heath, Mixars, etc. together with turntables, and the problem I encounter is the very noticeable difference in output level between the turntables and Denon SC5/6000M.

The difference is represented in practically in a quarter turn you have to increase in the gain on Denon channels.

The audio tracks are original and purchased, so they are supposed to have normalized volume levels.

Is this normal?

Is there any way to increase the analog output volume of Denon SC5/6000M units?

You are talking about different things in the topic subject compared with the post text so it’s a bit confusing.

I think you need to clarify how are you connecting you SC players because line inputs are not the same as digital inputs.

You can’t compare phono inputs to either line or digital inputs. You’ll always have to set levels and establish your gain-staging it’s what a DJ does, aside from picking and mixing music.

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Sorry. You are right. I just edited post. I always Connect through analog RCA cables.

The problem is that in 0 phono channels gain sometimes never reach that level with líne inputs.

All good now.

No, it is not normal that signal coming into mixers line level inputs from SC players is sometimes so quiet that you cannot reach 0db on the VU line meters. Is that what is happening?

Considering you say you tested both your SC players and your friends friends, on multiple mixers - what is the same: cables? Tracks? Have you changed the cables? Have you made sure the tracks are not altered by some software?

That’s a confusing sentence you might want to rephrase, but assuming I understand you’re complaining that the line level outs on the SC Prime players have to be turned up more than phono inputs do…

Phono cartridges have varying levels of output from model to model, with many DJing cartridges being outrageously high to the point of either the cartridges sacrificing fidelity to achieve that high an output or even clipping some phono preamp stages. While it would be nice if all the input levels were adjustable in terms of pot centering or sensitivity by way of the settings in the X18xx line of mixers (and all mixers, for that matter), I would not ever categorize the output of the SC Prime players as being too low, as the players need a couple dB of headroom away from full scale digital clip to prevent inter-sample clipping, and also to account for the tempo and key change effects on the volume of high frequencies. In fact, lower output on the players is better, and I believe was reduced slightly some time back appropriately.

You must take into account that many better-quality cartridges, including even moving magnet and moving iron, not just moving coil designs, will have substantially lower output than the cartridges you are likely currently using. The phono stages need to be able to handle most of these reasonably-hot cartridges, even if low-output moving coils are out of the question without an external transformer stage. As long as it’s not so wildly off kilter that you’re in a part of the pot range that becomes overly touchy to adjust (like SPDIF inputs on the MP2015 on its current firmware), I’d recommend you not worry about the player output levels and instead just get used to adjusting every track and source independently. That’s what the trim-gain knobs are for, after all, and the last thing we want is the output peaks on the player high enough to increase distortion levels further.

On a related note, the SC Prime players have become rather popular in some vintage mixer circles, and some of these mixers are not particularly tolerant of hot line levels, so being a little quieter than a CDJ-2000NXS2 would actually have further benefits. I remember at one point Ecler was putting two different types of line inputs on their mixers.

Yes, I have tried everything. The turntable cables are original to the Technics SL1200MK2 and cannot be changed. And the Denon ones, they are the original ones that come from the factory and I have exchanged them and everything is the same. The audio tracks are all purchased and maintain a normalized volume level, and I have more or less the same problem with all of them.

Thanks again for the extensive explanation.

Yes, I agree that, after experiences, I will have to keep the channel levels of the turntables below 0db, so that I do not have to force the volume level of the Denon units so much.


Just turn the gain level pot on each channel for each vinyl track as required.

It’s fairly standard for vinyl tracks to vary in playback level. Generically albums/LPs had a lower recording level than 12’’ inch singles or 7’’ singles and so the gain control would need to be increased when playing an LP track, but decreased when playing a single

Similarly, dance tracks on vinyl might be louder than cocktail hour tunes.

This will be why the gain controls are there on each channel and not just switched hi/mid/low , but proportional/variable

Why? Turn the Denons’ trim-gain knobs up however you need. What’s your motive for being so hesitant to turn them up? Your max peaks for a given track should always be at least at the 0dBVu point on the mixer meters, but that’s for stuff that has little to no dynamics. Anything more dynamic and not as ‘loud’ or dense needs to be turned up more to sound similarly loud. Just stay out of the top one or two LEDs, preferably out of the top two LEDs on mixers with good meters. Are you running out of available gain boost on the Denons when they’re connected to the line inputs of DJ mixers as compared to turntables’ phono outputs connected to phono inputs?

That is how I understood him, that he cannot raise the gain enough on the line inputs when Denon’s are connected to match the 0db. Which is: a) not normal b) improbable

Like, I would like to see a video of it.

It’s improbable he’d be running out of trim-gain boost and unable to even reach the meter zero on a variety of mixers, which means he’s either got an aversion to going over some point on the trim-gain knobs or the 0dBvu on the meters. If he can’t bring himself for some reason to ever go past zero on the meters, then he certainly has a lot more boost unused on the trim-gain pots.

Yes, that is what is happening to me. During the mix and transition from the audio track that is coming in from the denon unit (connected to the line input) to the vinyl cut that is playing on the Technics SL1200MK2 (connected to the phono input), I have to turn up too much limit the gain of the denon unit to reach the 0db of vinyl, which is normally in the center gain position.

I miss being able to work with the same margin of the gain potentiometer half, because sometimes the sound of the vinyl covers the Denon track all time and I can’t make the transition correctly, without finally increasing, when the Denon track is left alone, the mixing master volume.

I will try to record a video of this circumstance. I don’t have a turntable at home. We experience it when I go to a friend’s house who has a Denon SC6000M and 2 Technics SL1200MK2 turntables, with cartridges, if I’m not mistaken Stanton DS4, and I take a Denon SC5000M with me.

What mixer do you own and what mixer is at your friend’s?

Quoting myself because this is what sounds like is happening here. If you were outright running out of available boost completely on the trim-gains often, that’d be one thing, but that doesn’t sound like what you’re talking about. Stop worrying about some special point on the pot, because those DJ cartridges you’re using that were designed to maximize output are giving you a warped sense of what normal levels are. The trim-gain pots need to be wherever is necessary, not kept at center. Also, if all tracks’ peaks are being adjusted by you to the exact same point on the meters, you’re managing your levels wrong. Finally, you don’t seem to be adjusting your channel volumes at the bottom reasonably, rather you seem like you’re slamming them to max in the middle of the transition. Obviously if you do that, you’re going to have to adjust the other channel or the EQs or something to compensate.

To me it does sound like he is talking about that so I really need a video. It makes no sense for that to be happening, on two different mixers and two SC player sets so not sure, most likely it’s just a weird gain staging+odd workflow issue.

It might be from too much time around computer DJ software and controllers with auto gain where they barely move the trim-gain control away from center and often just expect it to already be close enough. Regardless, if he was completely running out of trim-gain pot boost, I presume he would have said that already.

This is not a simple question to answer.

Different phono preamps will have different output characteristics from vendor to vendor.

Different headshells can affect the output level of the carts installed in them.

Different carts and different stylii will also have different output levels.

For example, my Ortofon VNL carts attached to Technics Headshells, thru a numark ntx1000 are louder than my Shure M44’s on Stanton HS.4 Headshells, thru a technics 1200 mk2.

One is quieter than my sc6000 while the other is louder.