agreed that its not silent. depends on how you mount, how you acoustically isolate the relay 'banger board' and so on. also depends HIGHLY on which relays you use and also how you sequence them. I'm actually working on code now to sequence them and try to keep them semi quiet.
on a solid state vol control (like the PGA) I like to have slow ramp up/down fades. but on relays you cannot do that! so you have to give up the ramping and just go 'immediately' to the vol level.
one thing that can help is to have user memories so that you can go to a few set levels and 'zoom' to them without having to 'walk' up or down by steps to get there; another software thing that could help.
I'm also toying with the idea of doing something hybrid with relays and maybe something solid state for 'tweaks'. just a thought, nothing firm at this point
I would never go with a 'turn the knob' thing anymore. they're not remote-able and they are HELLA expensive for what they really are. no reason why a switch with R's should cost a kings ransom
I've seen people put metal rods in their gear to 'reach' pots or attens to try to shorten the wire distance. I have to admit to laughing hard at such things; but if you really need to achieve 'short wire distances' you can move your relay bank to the back of the chassis, if that makes you feel better
then put the GUI part up front where it just does not matter, in a sound POV.
heck, for purists you can even have the relay box be JUST a box by itself. have it be a 'snake box' with all the wires going into and out of it, including the remote control pair that varies the volume over the digital command channel (i2c often). that way you can make the atten its own separate 'process' and insert it inline anywhere.