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Old 3 weeks ago
  #2
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For a given set level on a speaker's set volume, the physical loudness will only be as high as the input signal is.
ADAM speakers have an input designed for a "professional" signal level of +4 dBu, which means that speakers designed for "semi-pro" levels such as your ESI speakers (-10 dBV) are designed for a signal about 12 dB quieter (there's some maths involved here). This is less than half as loud, and that means that if you set both pairs at unity level, the ESI will be louder.

This means very little.

A speaker's rated power is about how loud can the speaker physically go before distorting. And you get to that by turning up the output on the MOTU until that starts happening. If you do that, you'll realise the ADAMS will go far louder before distorting than the cheaper ESIs will.

Why do you think your MOTU is at –40 dB? That's stupidly low. That's because it's outputting a pro-level signal and the ESI can't handle that unless you turn it right down.

TL;DR: Imagine the ADAM has an attenuator on the input in order to cope with "grown-up" signal levels. That means it will be quieter... until you bring up the signal from the MOTU.