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Volume Control - Software or Hardware


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I suppose I'm sitting on the fence. I built a music server several years ago and love the ease of accessing my (FLAC) music files. The ADAC and DSP is accomplished by a relatively inexpensive (and outdated) EMU 1820m system. I use Winamp for accessing my library.

 

The digital music is converted to analog and is passed on to an integrated tube amp. I've always loved tubes and think it's a cool synergy having the front end fully digital and the amplification performed by tubes.

 

Now, to my inquiry: Winamp has a control for volume, but I leave it up all the way and rely on the volume control on my integrated tube amp. I have an opportunity to upgrade to Audio Research monoblock tube amplifiers (no pre-amp), but concerned of a full volume signal being passed onto my amplifiers and speakers. I'm considering getting a new pre-amp, but wondering if there may be a simple sterio attenuator that could be placed at analog line level between the server's DAC and the amplifiers. Perhaps I should invest in a better server with a volume control that I can trust.

 

Any thoughts or suggestions?

Randy

 

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Hi Randy - Daniel Weiss has a great passive attenuator called the ATT202 http://www.weiss-highend.ch/att202/index.html

 

ON the Mac side Amarra has a very solid software volume control.

 

Personally I would never rely solely on a software volume control in my main system. You have no way to control the volume when the PC locks up or spits out white noise for some reason. It's just too dangerous for me.

 

can you use your current integrated as a preamp only?

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

UPDATED: My Audio Systems -> https://audiophile.style/system

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I have spent an inordinate amount of money on various analogue volume controls, either on stand alone passive units (e.g Placette and Music First) , or on upgrading the volume controls inside pre amps (e.g Bent Audio, DACT, Dantimax, Goldpoint).

 

All have led to big improvements over the standard Volume controls fitted to most equipment.

 

But the new generation of digital controls in products such as Amarra, Pure Music/Vinyl, XXXHE and also in the Weiss Chris mentions are in IMHO much much better.

 

This was also the case with my Lynx L22 soundcard/mixer setup.

 

I now go almost directly into my Power Amp.

 

I say almost directly because I also fear the 'full volume' scenario. I now use a bypass input (so the input bypasses the VC and preamp circuitry) in my Copland PreAmp. Many Stereo PreAmps have a bypass input for home theatre setups.

 

My 'safety net' is that the Pre has to be manually set to this input on start up, this allows me to check the volume outputs before engaging the Power Amps.

 

It is not a perfect 'safety net' but the gain in sound quality is clear.

 

 

 

 

 

Trying to make sense of all the bits...MacMini/Amarra -> WavIO USB to I2S -> DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC -> Active XO ->Bass Amp Avondale NCC200s, Mid/Treble Amp Sugden Masterclass -> My Own Speakers

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  • 2 months later...

I'm finally getting around to thanking you all for your insights. This site is filled with intelligent and kind audiophiles.

 

The Weiss unit is exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately too expensive ($7K!)for me. I ended up getting a used Audio Research LS15 preamp for now.

 

Take care and I'll try to get back to you sooner next time.

 

Randy

 

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What a great suggestion! I would have never thought of using the "surround" input of my Classe CP-50 to bypass the pre-amp volume control and use the Amarra volume control instead. I'm trying this right now and am pretty pleased with the results. Thanks.

 

Mike[br]Amarra Full Version 2.3.3 (Cache 2mb/Playlist)>OSX Lion/Jollyfast VNC>Mac Mini 2ghz 8gb>Halide Design Bridge>Benchmark Dac1>CJ 17LS>CJ MF2250A>Thiel CS1.6>REL R-205, PS Audio Quartet/P300, Nordost Heimdall/Cardas Quadlink.

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