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Stepped attenuators - worth it?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm contemplating upgrading the Blue Alps pot on my MPX3 and saw quite a few nice stepped attenuators with dale resistors on ebay for ~30 bucks such as this one:




Has anyone tried them? Would it be a worthwhile upgrade?

post #2 of 6

I'm on the fence about steppers. 


On the one hand they sound pretty awesome. 

On the other hand the steps are either too big, or there are not enough of them. Almost nobody does this "right." 

Cheap Ebay steppers sound OK (they all sound the same, dont tell anyone I told you the secret) but they *feel* like crap when you turn them. 


Make sure that whatever you get will physically in your amp. 


100Kohm is a pretty bad value. Get 10Kohm. If your source cant drive 10Kohm take that as a sign that it is a pile of fail and should be replaced as soon as possible.


I thought MPX3 in the bent-aluminum enclosure normally came with a Noble pot? Headscratcher. 

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

10Kohm it is! I'm sure the Benchmark will do fine. I figured even if it wasn't any good, I wouldn't lose much if it's only 30usd. It looks like it should fit fine.


MPX3s vary a lot from one to the other. I'm pretty sure the Alps pot was an upgrade choice at the time, which I went for (along with pretty much every other upgrade available for it).


I was looking at a few other options as well, like TDK attenuators, but the prices are a little steep. I figured I'd try a cheap ebay one, and perhaps upgrade it to something proper in the future if I like it better than the blue Alps pot.


If you have other choices in mind though, I'm interested!

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Little update:


Received the 10k attenuator today (chinese ebay one), it was a pain fitting it inside but I managed (it's a tight fit!).


Very happy with it :) My DAC has it's own volume pot which helps. Needs to be turned up a way more than before, but still got plenty of room to spare.


You were right about them feeling like crap when you turn them though. But well, I'll probably find the sweet spot and then use the DAC's volume for adjustments. As far as the sound goes though, I'm very happy with it. For 40 bucks it was definitely a worthwhile upgrade!

post #5 of 6

Good  :)  Quite a few changes to that amp over the last weeks.


The only way to improve the feel of a cheap stepped attenuator in my experience is to use the biggest knob possible.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Yes, next I will most likely "upgrade" the RCA sockets with these just for the hell of it:





I just happened on them while browsing and they were too cool to pass up :D


Once that's done, either I recable the whole thing properly, or I get a PCB done, I haven't made a choice yet. I think I will probably just recable, color coding everything properly and trying to make it a little more tidy than the mess it is right now. I played around with the idea of just getting a new chassis for it, but if I want something nice it's going to cost a lot, so that's on hold for now. 

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