Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Physical volume control knob (add-on?) for monitor speakers
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Physical volume control knob (add-on?) for monitor speakers

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I am looking to buy a nice pair of active speakers, either high-end computer speakers or studio monitors.

One thing I noticed with monitors from M-Audio, KRK, AudioEngine, et al., is that there is no convenient volume knob; if such a knob exists, it is on the back of the monitor. I guess those sound engineers control the volume through some control deck.

But I really such a volume knob since they are convenient when I don't want to mess with the software control of my computer. What is the best way to add such a controller between my source (computer or otherwise) and a monitor? Are there products that do exactly this? Is such a controller called an "attenuator"? Yes, I know I will lose some fidelity in the sound.


For example, there are nice big controllers for the Razor Mako and Bose's speakers:



post #2 of 16
Just put a potentiometer between the computer output and the monitors - make sure the impedance of the pot matches the input impedance of the monitors (my VXT4's are 10k, for instance)

You really wont lose any fidelity, for all intents and purposes. If youre paranoid, feel free to use a stepped attenuator


Anyone in the DIY section can put one together for you, and if youre just using a 2-channel pot, all youll need are rca-ins and xlr-outs, plus a cheap project case. Might cost you $60 or so. Ari made me one (nikongod), and it is just terrific!
post #3 of 16
Sounds like you are looking for something like this; TC Electronic | Level Pilot
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bloodoath View Post
Sounds like you are looking for something like this; TC Electronic | Level Pilot
That looks nice. But how do I connect those large plugs into my system? I want to go from the RCA plugs on my Asus Essence soundcard to RCA plugs on speakers. Are there converters?

post #5 of 16
I have the TC Electronic Level Pilot and love mine. As for connecting it, you would need RCA to XLR cables. I connected my BX5As and sub to the knob from my Claro Halo and I love the knob. All I did was max out my Windows volume control, hide the icon in the tray, and I'm good to go.

A bit pricey, but recommended. Give it a try and let us know what you think of it.
post #6 of 16
from a PC/Mac, you can use a Griffin Powermate and make it trigger hotkeys to change the volume in your favorite player(foobar has a 64bit volume attenuator)
post #7 of 16
the reason they don't have volume knobs is because they assume if you are buying reference monitors you will be using a preamp as a volume control..
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by FDS View Post
the reason they don't have volume knobs is because they assume if you are buying reference monitors you will be using a preamp as a volume control..
more likely a mixer
post #9 of 16
When I first bought my KRK's I had the same question. One popular recommendation at the time was the Nano Patch.

However, in the end I found that it was much cheaper and more convenient to use my LD mkII as a pre rather than messing with a whole other piece of equipment.
post #10 of 16
The big mixing boards in a studio have a section of knobs and sliders dealing with monitor control. That allows them to have multiple sets of monitors and be able to control the volume. There are also dedicated monitor controllers that allow you to control the monitors and control the volume if you don't have a mixing board (like if all of your mixing is done on the computer).

Pro audio online shops generally have a section for studio monitor controllers. Here's a link to Musicians Friend which has both the Level Pilot and the SMPro Audio Nano.

I use a Mackie Big Knob. A bit expensive if all you want is volume control, but it does other things as well. Basically a handy flexible pre-amp that can do both balanced and unbalanced. Genuinely handy if you want the input and output control. Overkill if you just want volume control.

Both the Level Pilot and SMPro Audio Patch can do balanced or unbalanced. To do unbalanced with the Level Pilot you'll need XLR to RCA converters (male or female depending on which end of the connection you're converting). With the SMPro Audio Patch you'll need a TS to RCA adapter (TS stands for Tip Sleeve, like a mono 1/4" headphone plug). The TS to RCA adapters are cheaper and you can buy them at any Radio Shack.

Some headphone amps can operate as preamps as well. So don't ignore that option. You can also look for a used home stereo preamp as well. Connect your headphone amp to the tape loop and you're good.
post #11 of 16
I use an external dac with a preamp. Better SQ than a pc soundcard and meets my volume needs.
post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ham Sandwich View Post

Some headphone amps can operate as preamps as well. So don't ignore that option. You can also look for a used home stereo preamp as well. Connect your headphone amp to the tape loop and you're good.

thanks for the great info on the volume controllers available.

I forgot about preamp units. So basically I can put any of the preamps on this page between my computer and my speakers, right?

Preamplifiers-Audio Advisor


This Parasound 2100 pre-amp looks great. It doesn't have a "tape loop" for outputting to a headphone amp. I don't even know what that is. Is that the same as a line-level output unaffected by the volume, bass, treble controls? This unit has "Fixed level audio record output".

post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by muad View Post
I use an external dac with a preamp. Better SQ than a pc soundcard and meets my volume needs.
The Asus Essence's DAC is very good already. Also, I'll be listening through speakers, not headphones.
post #14 of 16
Heh, I had this problem when using my Niles amp. It's normally meant for custom installs but I use it as my main amp anyway.

I'd take a look at the NHT PVC, Creek OBH12, or possibly the Goldpoint SA1 depending on your budget.

I have the NHT PVC really cheap, pretty much what it would have cost for me to make something of similar quality (uses a solid ALPS pot).
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by shuttleboi View Post
thanks for the great info on the volume controllers available.

I forgot about preamp units. So basically I can put any of the preamps on this page between my computer and my speakers, right?

Preamplifiers-Audio Advisor


This Parasound 2100 pre-amp looks great. It doesn't have a "tape loop" for outputting to a headphone amp. I don't even know what that is. Is that the same as a line-level output unaffected by the volume, bass, treble controls? This unit has "Fixed level audio record output".
Yes. Most of the preamps there would work. Some would be extreme overkill.

As far as the preamp is concerned, connecting two powered studio monitors would be just like connecting two mono amplifiers.

Are you planning on hooking up a headphone amp to the preamp as well? I've been assuming you need the ability to add a headphone amp.

The record out jacks on that Parasound preamp would allow for connecting a headphone amp.

In the old days they typically added a tape loop to preamps and receivers. The tape loop consisted of a "tape in" and a "tape out". You connected the cassette tape player to the "tape in" and "tape out". It formed a loop. That way you could monitor what the tape player/recorder was recording. It would be able to record from any of the inputs on the preamp.

The tape loop was a convenient place to be able to install something like an equalizer. When you enabled the tape loop monitoring you'd be able to use the equalizer. The tape loop was also a place to install a headphone amp. You'll notice that some headphone amps have both a pair of in jacks and out jacks. Usually that is so the headphone amp could be put in the tape loop without breaking the loop.

Are you going to be adding a sub? I ask because that Parasound preamp has sub outs and a crossover control. The sub controls on the preamp aren't necessary for a normal music setup. The sub controls could be useful if trying to integrate into a home theater setup, but that quickly gets messy. For a normal music listening setup with powered monitors and a powered sub you would not need or even use the sub crossover controls on the preamp. A powered studio sub contains an adjustable active crossover. You connect stereo inputs to the sub, and connect the two monitor speakers to the sub. There is a crossover dial on the sub that you adjust to select the crossover frequency. It is all self-contained. The marketing page for the M-Audio SBX10 explains it and you can also download the manual for pictures and an explanation of hook-up. Most powered studio style subs are similar (by studio style I mean powered subs and powered monitors that are sold for pro-audio work).
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Physical volume control knob (add-on?) for monitor speakers