Unexpected quality improvement with inline volume attenuator for Shure SE846 and 2015 MBP?
Aug 18, 2015 at 3:29 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


New Head-Fier
Sep 2, 2013
I recently got Shure SE846 IEMs which I'm connecting to a 2015 13' rMBP. The IEMs came with an inline volume attenuator, basically this.
At first I plugged them in without the attenuator and there was some hissing + high sensitivity to volume changes. I later learned both of these issues are normal for IEMs. So next I set my computer's volume to near max and added the attenuator. Not only did the hiss go away completely, the bass got A LOT better. I can't wrap my head around this. I read that if anything, volume attenuators reduce sound quality because they add impedance. To see how much difference computer volume made, I set it to the lowest value and cranked up the knob on the attenuator. The quality was a bit worse, but definitely not as bad as without the attenuator.
So now I'm left wondering why the attenuator helps so much, and second am I getting the best possible sound quality by using the attenuator? I don't have a headphone amp to test with sadly. My computer audio settings are 44100Hz 2ch-24 bit integer, and fiddling with them makes no difference. Also, my phone doesn't seem to have this problem nearly as much. Thanks for the help!

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