How do I properly configure system (windows) volume and digital volume control on dac/amp?
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JayNetTech5

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I want to get the fullest resolution, soundstage, and details out of my music, but I have to turn up the digital volume on my dac which causes a very apparent background hiss when trying to compensate for lowering the volume via windows so my headphones don't get too loud, but when I lower the digital volume and turn up the volume via windows instead, the music seems lacking, the staging/separation is smaller and details are lessened. How do I properly calibrate them so I can get the right volume levels on both ends for my headphones?
 
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Muinarc

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What DAC are you using? Usually DACs I see with volume control recommend you run them at 100% volume when they aren't the primary source in your chain. So a good place to start is seeing if the manufacturer has any recommendations.
 
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JayNetTech5

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What DAC are you using? Usually DACs I see with volume control recommend you run them at 100% volume when they aren't the primary source in your chain. So a good place to start is seeing if the manufacturer has any recommendations.
SMSL X4
 
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Muinarc

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Hmm the manual on their site doesn't help much. Without knowing what "unity gain" on the X4 is, I'd have to guess top volume on that unit is where you'd want to be, and the fact that you feel there are more details that way back that up, but the unfortunate consequence is that the internal amp of the X4 gets noisy up there. I think all you can really do is play with your two volumes and settle on the best you can do.
 
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JayNetTech5

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Hmm the manual on their site doesn't help much. Without knowing what "unity gain" on the X4 is, I'd have to guess top volume on that unit is where you'd want to be, and the fact that you feel there are more details that way back that up, but the unfortunate consequence is that the internal amp of the X4 gets noisy up there. I think all you can really do is play with your two volumes and settle on the best you can do.
What is a good volume level to set in windows?
 
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Muinarc

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if you want windows to be the source and not control volume, usually 90-100% volume there.
 
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If you control the volume from the SMSL, I'd set the windows volume between 90-100%.

If it were me, I'd raise the SMSL volume as high as you can before it gets noisy then leave it there and use windows volume. Seems like that would be the easiest setup.
 
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canthearyou

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It's probably the SMSL. Low quality dac/AMP. I had a cheap SMSL amp and it hissed.
 
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JayNetTech5

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My FiiO K1 had a background hiss too, but it lacked volume buttons, so the intensity of the hiss was automatic when adjusting the volume on my PC. While I like having volume buttons as an extra feature, it's a lot more user-friendly to adjust only the source volume, since the amp gain is always centralized.
 
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