How to Protect an Audio Amplifier Input for Over Voltage

Written by david lipscomb Google
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How to Protect an Audio Amplifier Input for Over Voltage
RCA line level attenuation is often required when the line level source voltage exceeds preamp input requirements. (rca image by serge simo from

Certain sources, such CD players and turntable preamps, have output voltages that are higher than some preamp inputs can handle. The result is nasty distortion, and possibly damage. In addition, running multiple sources through a recording device set to one level means that incoming sources must all be at that same level prior to connection. RCA line level attenuators solve this common problem, reducing line voltage just prior to insertion. The result is a common input voltage, friendly to all preamp components, at a low cost.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • RCA line level attenuators

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  1. 1

    Turn off all components. Remove any RCA cables from the problem source's corresponding preamp inputs.

  2. 2

    Connect the line level attenuators to the male preamp end of the RCA cables leading from the offending source. Push in the male RCA tips into the female receptacle on the attenuator plugs.

  3. 3

    Connect the newly attenuated RCA cables back into the preamp or tape deck. Turn on the system. Verify that the input signal is now attenuated enough to eliminate distortion, without excessively reducing volume.

Tips and warnings

  • RCA line level attenuators range from 1dB to 12dB versions. It may be necessary to experiment to determine the best for a component and its relation to the connected preamp.

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