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Some equipment use 0dB as the reference, and you can choose to decrease the volume from that point. If you need to "increase" beyond 0dB, you need to reduce volume on the main speakers so the volume is finally balanced between all speakers.
It could be that the maximum volume limit has been switched on too low. Go to settings then playback and then volume limit, the volume control shows the maximum volume it has been set to. Use the click wheel to select your maximum volume and then press the centre button to set the limit. Then choose done. Hope this helps.
My Pioneer VSX-36TX (circa 2002) does the same thing. Modern AVR's count up from minus something to 0db and go just a few db higher into 'plus' territory. It seems arbitrary but that's how it is.
Ask yourself this: who ever really turned the volume knob up to maximum on any amp on purpose, and had speakers survive it? In other words, why have all that capacity on a potentiometer if you never use it?
Little known fact: With that in mind, Bose Corp actually designed a product that intentionally used the full physical travel of a volume control - the Bose Acoustic Wave Music System.