How to set up proper gain staging with UR44 to avoid monitor distortion?

I have the following setup:

  • MacBook Pro with Cubase Pro 12
  • UR44
  • SPL Model 2381 Monitor Controller
  • KS Digital D80 Active Monitors

My assumption is: If all output levels are at 0 dB or maximum, the monitor speakers should play back audio (which is perfectly mastered w/o any clipping) at their maximum loudness w/o any distortion.

However, if I turn up the loudness knob of my SPL to the max, the monitors start distorting. Only if I turn down the output level on the front right of my UR44 to about 1 o‘clock, I can turn up the SPL level to the max w/o any distortion.

When I connect a turntable with build in phono stage via line out directly to my SPL (bypassing the UR44), I can turn up the SPL level to the max w/o any distortion coming out of my monitors. This leads me to the question, whether the UR44 goes above 0 dB when turning up the output level to the max.

The low and high eq knobs of my D80s are set to the exact half which should be the default settings. Volume of the D80s is set to max.

Does anybody have a hint or tip for me what‘s wrong in my signal chain? It does not feel right to set the UR44 output level to 1 o’clock instead of to max.

Thank you very much!

There are different reference levels around, mostly the -10dBV (the low, consumer, level) and +4dBU (the high, pro, level) and if one part of the signal chain puts out +4dBU but the receiving end expects -10dBV, the kind of problem you are describing will occur.
Soeey I dont have specs on any of the products you own, so I cant really help…

Great hint, thank you! I will check this!