Passive Volume Control w/ USB DAC
Jul 13, 2012 at 8:56 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

Kurotetsu

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I'm moving from a sound card to a dedicated USB DAC. The DAC has no volume control and I'm using a pair of M-Audio BX5a Deluxe monitors. Controlling volume from Windows is a pain and adjusting the volume at the back of each is worse. I was considering a USB knob like the PowerMate one when I tumbled on these:
 
http://www.amazon.com/SM-Pro-Audio-Passive-Attenuator/dp/B000T9K8ZO/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_2
 
http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Patch-Passive-Volume-Controller/dp/B005HQWP5U/ref=pd_sim_sbs_e_3
 
http://www.amazon.com/NHT-PVC-PC-Passive-Control/dp/B007OULVPC
 
These seem like a better solution, and much more affordable than all the $300+ dedicated preamps I've looked at. Has anyone used these or something like it and can comment?
 
Jul 15, 2012 at 11:30 PM Post #3 of 7

Kurotetsu

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Quote:
I use the NHT between my DAC and amp. Works like a charm. What is it you want to know?

 
I apologize for taking so long to respond. I've been doing a lot of research into monitor controllers and I keep running into alot of opposing opinions (passive vs. active, potentiometers vs. stepped attenuators, transparent vs. not transparent, etc). So I just wanted to get an opinion from someone who actually used one. Specifically, does it affect your sound at all? Do you get any channel imbalance issues? Does it give you enough volume precision?
 
Jul 16, 2012 at 7:45 AM Post #4 of 7

obobskivich

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I have this for my headphones:
http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HZR-62-Stereo-Volume-Control/dp/B000H0K8VY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342438981&sr=8-1&keywords=sennheiser+hzr-62

Works fine, no noise from the sliders, and I can play with the levels as much as I want. Coupled with the headphone amp on the soundcard, it beats any stand-alone I've seen. :cool:

See no reason it shouldn't work with line-sources either. :xf_eek:

As far as studio control toys, I've only played with the more expensive active models from Mackie and PreSonus (ignoring stuff built-in to DAWs) - they generally work as advertised IME. If you really don't want to deal with channel imbalance or pot noise problems, digital volume control is the way to go. There's a few ways to accomplish that in stand-alone hardware. PreSonus makes one of them. There's also solutions like the Emotiva DAC or older HT processors that use VCAs (e.g. Technics SH-AC500D).

Sound quality wise - after you go digital (or dual-mono), you don't go back. :wink:
 
Jul 16, 2012 at 9:47 AM Post #5 of 7

Happy Camper

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It's worked out very well for me. I guess in theory, these passive controllers have an affect on your sound. I've not noticed anything of concern. There is plenty of volume control and no noise. The only drawback to a passive control is having to have two sets of ICs. I will eventually upgrade my DAC and will look for one with a digital volume control. These passive controllers are awesome for use with the orthos running on speaker amps without a pre.
 
Jul 17, 2012 at 10:01 AM Post #6 of 7

boomhaur

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You could also spend about $20 on a media keyboard which has sound control. Or go with a "gaming" one which is more expensive. It works extremely well it's what I do with my current setup, just had to instal the logitech drivers to use my wireless keyboard and it was done.
 

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