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Quick review: Schiit "Sys" cheap Passive Pre-Volume Control-Switchbox


firedog

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sys_main.jpg

 

What is it?

 

A small box that acts as a passive pre - volume control. Costs $49. Yep, that's it. It's RCA ins and out only - but what do you expect for $49? I basically bought it just out of curiosity to see how it compares to a similar, but much more expensive item.

 

Pros: Small. Cheap. Looks good (especially for the price). Has two inputs, so you can use it as a switching device. If you want it just as a switching device, just turn the volume up to 100% (no volume attenuation) and switch away. Seems like solid build quality.

 

Cons: Ergonomics. The device is only about an inch (3 cm) high and 5 inches (13cm) across, so the volume knob is small and close to the switch button. Not very comfortable if you change volume levels a lot, say when listening to a mixed playlist of various tracks. Your audio cables attached to it may weigh more than it does.

 

Sound Quality: Good. Seems transparent. I didn't notice any obvious degradation in SQ when using it inline with my Mytek DAC setup with fixed output (bypass of Mytek internal volume control). I also own a Goldpoint passive pre that is functionally exactly the same as the Sys. I don't think it sounds any better, and it costs over 8X the price of the Schiit item. The Goldpoint is about twice the size, so it doesn't have the ergonomic issues of the Sys. But since I only use these items occasionally I'll probably sell the Goldpoint.

 

Conclusion:This would be a great item in a desktop system or in any system where you want to get by without an expensive preamp, but need a volume control. Or just as a decent looking analog switchbox. A useful item to have around, and for the price you haven't got much to lose.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Thanks for the impression. I'm planning to pick one up for my desktop system to switch between my headamp and some powered speakers. I was thinking of building something functionally identical but $50 is cheap enough to not worry with the hassel of finding my soldering iron.

Roon ->UltraRendu + CI Audio 7v LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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Thanks for the impression. I'm planning to pick one up for my desktop system to switch between my headamp and some powered speakers. I was thinking of building something functionally identical but $50 is cheap enough to not worry with the hassel of finding my soldering iron.

 

Sounds like you are exactly the intended market.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Does it have a remote control? That would potentially be a deal-breaker for many people who want to use it for something other than a near-field or desktop system.

 

No. I think adding a remote would put it in another price category - a little more is relatively a lot when you are competing in the under $50 market.

 

BTW, I just put it back in my system between my Mytek DAC and my amp. The DAC is running with it's own volume control bypassed, so the Sys is the only volume control in the loop.

 

With the Mytek analog volume control in line there is a very slight hiss in the system even at "0" volume - so slight that you have to put your ear directly up to a speaker to hear it, but it's there. When I added in the Sys, I checked and - there's no noise. Pretty amazing.

 

Goes against the audiophile wisdom of "less is more". Another box and set of cables results in a quieter setup. Go figure.

 

To be fair to the Mytek, even the Mytek manual says the DAC sounds best in volume bypass mode.

 

So in spite of the fact that I'm not thrilled with the ergonomics of the Volume control, I'm going to see if I can get used to it in there on a permanent basis.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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Thanks for the impression. I'm planning to pick one up for my desktop system to switch between my headamp and some powered speakers. I was thinking of building something functionally identical but $50 is cheap enough to not worry with the hassel of finding my soldering iron.

 

I was looking at this as well to work from my DAc to either my speaker amp or headphone amp, but I don't think it works like that.

 

Schiit Audio, Headphone amps and DACs made in USA. If look at the second picture it shows the back of the sys, which shows one input, two outputs. If I have read it right what you want is the other way around with one in, two outs.

 

Also on the same page there is a Q&A.

 

Hey, can you use this in reverse to switch 1 input to two outputs?

Yes, with the volume all the way up. But why not just use RCA Y-cables or splitters

 

one of these RCA Jack to 2 RCA Jack Splitter Adaptor - Gold Plated (Y type) - Monoprice.com

 

Cheers Frank

PC>JRiver> Lindemann USB-DAC 24/192> White Bird Amplification VIRTUS-01> Sennheiser HD650 headphones

PC>JRiver> Lindemann USB-DAC 24/192> Cyrus 6VS> Dali Zensor 1

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No, two inputs, one output. Look at the picture again. 2 inputs, clearly labelled "in 1" and "in 2". That's how it works as a switch between 2 devices. I'm not clear what the other poster wants, but I'm sure he can find a way to make it work for him.

 

I was looking at this as well to work from my DAc to either my speaker amp or headphone amp, but I don't think it works like that.

 

Schiit Audio, Headphone amps and DACs made in USA. If look at the second picture it shows the back of the sys, which shows one input, two outputs. If I have read it right what you want is the other way around with one in, two outs.

 

Also on the same page there is a Q&A.

 

 

one of these RCA Jack to 2 RCA Jack Splitter Adaptor - Gold Plated (Y type) - Monoprice.com

 

Cheers Frank

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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No, two inputs, one output. Look at the picture again. 2 inputs, clearly labelled "in 1" and "in 2". That's how it works as a switch between 2 devices. I'm not clear what the other poster wants, but I'm sure he can find a way to make it work for him.

 

Very sorry Firedog I got it the wrong way round it has two inputs and one output.

PC>JRiver> Lindemann USB-DAC 24/192> White Bird Amplification VIRTUS-01> Sennheiser HD650 headphones

PC>JRiver> Lindemann USB-DAC 24/192> Cyrus 6VS> Dali Zensor 1

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I'm pretty sure that with it being passive you can run it either direction. I would probably have the Sys volume all the way up when using my headamp and use the volume control on my headamp, but then use the volume control on the Sys when running into powered speakers.

Roon ->UltraRendu + CI Audio 7v LPS-> Kii Control -> Kii Three

Roon->BMC UltraDAC->Mr Speakers Aeon Flow Open

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For volume control only, this might be of interest to some (bal + single ended)

Level Pilot - Monitor Level at Your Fingertips | TC Electronic is another alternative (not that I'm suggesting anything wrong with the Schiit)

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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The Emotiva item looks much more ergonomically friendly than the Schiit, if you want just a volume control.

Has a slightly different feature set, that would probably a better fit for some people.

 

Likewise the Level Pilot, although it cost "much" more: $89. :)

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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  • 1 year later...

Update: took this out of my system for a couple of months (wanted fewer cables in my small space) and used the analog volume control on the Mytek again. Sounded fine.

 

I just put the Sys back in between the Mytek DAC and the Poweramp, and put the Mytek on "volume bypass" - that cuts the volume control in the Mytek completely out of the circuit and turns it into a "DAC only" item.

 

Result: there isn't any doubt the sound is improved with the Schiit in the loop. Just a cleaner, more live, transparent sound. Pretty amazing for a $49 item. It's not like Mytek didn't try to make a quality volume control, and I've heard the Mytek pre/volume control (it acutally is an active preamp circuit) compared to some pretty decent preamps in the $1000-$2000 range. The Mytek was their equal as the pre. But the Schiit is better.

 

I wonder what this thing would sound like in a really high end system. Would it degrade the sound?

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

Link to comment

Interesting what goes around comes around. All the talk around here for the last year or more has been, Wow, DSD is the ultimate in sound reproduction, and HQPlayer the greatest app ever (I purchased a license, too).

 

Now, with the introduction of this Schiit $2300 DAC, that everyone is raving about (perhaps, rightfully so), the talk has shifted to how great DSD-to-PCM sounds on this thing. Ha!

 

And, the fact that you have to add a $49 external volume control--yet another box and set of cables with no remote capability, or the equivalent, doesn't seem to be an issue. A lot of us gave up integrateds and preamps for DAC's with built-in digital volume controls, because we don't need a preamp's superfluous features, or even have analog sources anymore.

 

I said it before and I'll repeat myself--if Schiit could put a volume pot in their $89 Fulla DAC, why couldn't they put one in their flagship model at 25x the price? I don't mean to rant, but, if Schiit were to rethink the issue, and add remote-controlled volume and mute, they could bump the price up $200 to $2499, and sell way more of these things.

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the Mytek pre/volume control (it acutally is an active preamp circuit)

 

My guess is this is the answer. If it is silent, even with the volume turned all the way up or down, it isn't going to be worse in a more expensive system. (At least one would think not.)

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