digital volume control


Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2013
without going into a debate i would rather just ask a few questions
in a given digital system we have a few volume controls to use
1- the player volume control
2- the dac volume control
3- the preamp volume control
of the three who uses what and yes its a given we all use the preamp volume but where the sweet spot is , is also part of these questions .

please just answer simply 1- yes or no -- me yes
2- yes or no -- me yes
3- preamp sweet spot . 11 to 2 for me


Sep 3, 2012
3 - 11-2 for me also.

I don't have a player so easy no, and I have tried #2 several times, has benefits, but more negatives in my set up so no.
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Kal Rubinson

Well-Known Member
May 5, 2010
1. I don't use a player but I can adjust volume in the streamer/controller @ 64bit resolution. Generally, full up.
2. Yes! Normally, in the range of -10dB to -30dB.
3. Yes! This is generally fixed at 0dB gain but adjusted when there are changes in system components in order to maintain (2.) above.
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Jul 25, 2020
Lumin U1 to Goldnote DS 1000 MII Dac
I use both because my Dac has a built in pre. Depends on which is closer, IPad or Dac remote.
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Mar 20, 2021
1. No
2. Yes
3. No
First, I want to declare my bias that I love Chord DACs so I (unreasonably and irrationally) worship every word the Chord DAC designer Rob Watts says on Head-Fi.

According to my understanding of what he’s saying, whether digital volume controls are transparent are dependent on:
1) Low-level linearity of the DAC
2) Algorithm of digital volume attenuation (which almost everyone uses at 64-bit anyway)
3) Dithering/noise-shaping algorithm to reduce the 64-bit volume reduced signal to 24/32-bit for the DAC (except you can’t really noise-shape without upsampling first)
If all these digital computational/performance issues are achieved, digital volume control should be more transparent than analog. As a result, everything is system dependent.
4) DACs and analog preamps can have channel imbalance issues which are dependent on designs and hardware

As a result, with respect to the original set of questions:
1. Other than HQPlayer with it’s LNS15 filter, I’m not aware of any software that noise shapes an upsampled signal after volume reduction instead of dithering. in fact, I don’t use HQPlayer so I don’t even know if HQPlayer does that. I presume it does.
2. Many DACs have low-level linearity issues. This is why often they have an analog volume attenuation to avoid this problem.
3. Analog preamplifiers have it’s own issues with transparency and distortions.
4. If one is using a digitally transparent volume attenuation within a DAC, it is then important to figure out which analog preamp volume setting offers the lowest distortions and closest channel balance for optimal sound.

Moreover, people might prefer specific euphonic distortions introduced by imperfect digital volume control or analog volume control. So “accurate” volume attenuation is not always the ultimate goal.

That said, my take often is that audio is a hobby so people should just enjoy their music so whatever setting they love the most it’s the best setting.
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Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2013
i need more to reply , my reasoning is not any of your commnets . in the end its all what we like , and in one way im trying to understand others .
the next question after some more replies is sound based on [referance likes and dislikes . im sure the fur will fly on this lol.
thanks all who took the time to reply .


Well-Known Member
Jun 20, 2016
South Carolina
3-sort of

Re: # 3-I use an active crossover at the output of the Dac which serves the same purpose as a preamp, to buffer the output.

I would add that #3 is more beneficial in situations where a buffer improves the load match from source to amp.


Well-Known Member
Dec 12, 2015
Principality of Liechtenstein
1: No
2: Yes
3: Yes
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