My non-expert understanding is that there can be real benefits to stepped attenuators. Volume control is usually achieved by reducing the voltage coming in to your amplifier from your DAC, pre-amplifier etc. This happens by running it through a resistor/network of resistors. Resistors come in all different shapes, sizes, materials, tolerances etc. Potentiometers ("pots") are generally much cheaper that stepped attenuators. The former is a variable resistor or voltage divider and often uses something cheaper like carbon to do the "resisting". Whether it's inherent in the technology or a function of material, I'm not sure, but cheap pots can often have poor channel balance at low volume levels: The left side might attenuate the voltage more than the right side. Result? The sound is louder in your right ear than in the left. Jan employs some trickery in the Jazz, using a continuously variable contact rotor thingy to control a network of discrete resistors. It feels smooth like a pot, but behaves like a stepped attenuator. Moreover, it uses a series of metal film resistors. Higher quality, better tolerances, no channel imbalance. You're the engineer, not me, so correct me if I'm wrong. What type of engineering work do you do? Me? I'm just an underemployed bum. btw, MRC001, I've looked at your profile and love your musical tastes. We will have to start an "early music lovers" thread.