Excessive gain with a Belles preamp

My pal has an older Belles preamp and with his Cherry mono amps, he can't turn the volume pot past 9:00 before the music gets too loud.  What is the fix for this to reduced the gain in the preamp?   Thanks. 


Change the volume control. I had a similar situation with a preamp . I got used to it. I just had to be mindful of the situation. It wasn't that much of a problem.

Older tube preamps with tube power amp is a tough combination because the tube preamps often have gobs of gain - this is from when analog sources dominated, and the extra gain was of benefit (especially when trying to push an MM phono stage into MC territory). Also, most common preamp tube types have a ton of gain on tap. Then you stack on a tube power amp, which usually have much higher sensitivity than SS amps thanks to gobs of gain from tubes like 6SN7, 12AX7, 12AT7 etc in the V1 slots and MUCH lower levels of global negative feedback to subtract it out. Then you add a modern "hot" digital source like a balanced DAC with up to 5V outputs or more! Systems like this are literally drowning in excess gain. You can certainly inject attenuators or that Schiit Sys, but really look at that pathetic cheap little potentiometer in the Schiit and ask if your system deserves to go through that.

Your other options:

  • Switch to a preamp with lower gain. Anything over 14dB is considered very high gain. Some of those vintage tube line stages have gains into the upper 20’s, holy crap! 😮
  • See if your current pre or amp can roll any slots to a lower gain type, like 12AX7 to a 5751 or 12AT7 (this will only help a little though)
  • If your main problem is with digital sources being too hot, consider a DAC with a digital volume control.

The reality is that you’re generating so much surplus gain via active stages (with each adding their own distortion and noise footprint for each dB of gain granted) and then trying to figure out the least bad way to throw away a large chunk of that gain. It’s suboptimal, any way you slice it.

Just put an attenuator between the pre and amp. Probably 10 db will do the trick.


Look at the Schiit Freya S preamp you can switch between passive or active modes in passive mode, it has 0dB gain.



My CJ had way too much gain. It was something like 27 dB.   I recently replaced it with a pre that only has 12 dB gain and it is a much better match 


What a great bit of knowledge you have with such erudite comments!   Thanks to all for your suggestions.  I thought some resistors would sort it out, but perhaps not. My Sachs preamp has not such problems.