Volume: PC, DAC, or amp?
Jul 24, 2020 at 10:00 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

dazKewl

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When it comes to volume control, is there a best practice when it comes to the PC -> DAC -> amp route? For example, I read somewhere (don't know where now) that the PC volume & DAC volume should both be maxed out and you should just adjust the volume using the amp. Are there any benefits in doing this?

I normally keep my DAC volume at its highest (if I'm using a DAC that has a potentiometer like D50s) and my amp volume at around the 9 o'clock position and then simply change the volume using my PC which is the easiest method for me since I can do so from my keyboard... I have tried to play around with my setup to see if I can notice any difference but to my untrained, aging ears it all sounds the same. How do you normally adjust your volume?
 
Jul 25, 2020 at 9:01 AM Post #2 of 8

Roseval

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The loudest a DAC could play is called 0 dBFS, say all bits are on.
If we lower the volume digital we ‘shift’ to the right
MSB LSB
1111111111111111
000000001111111111111111
Yes, we do loose resolution and with each bit chopped of we loose 6 dB of the dynamic range.

That was what was happening in the past because most DAC's were 16 bit.

If we play 16 bits program material on a 24 bit DAC we can lower with 8 bits before we do loose resolution.
111111111111111100000000
000000001111111111111111

When using 24 bits program material on a 24 bit DAC we do loose resolution but in case of a 48 dB reduction, we still have 16 bits of resolution.
111111111111111111111111
00000000111111111111111111111111

Today you even have DACs working internally with 32 bits.
If you have a 24 bit DAC, you can safely use digital volume control.

Best practice is probably to adjust the analog volume control to "a little to loud"
Use the digital volume control to lower it a bit.

Personally I hardly use digital volume control.
I have my pre-amp/DAC sitting next to my PC.
I like to use the knob instead of the digital volume control of the PC.
Don't even know if DAC does it analog or digital.

PS: if you play loud you don't have this problem :)
 
Jul 25, 2020 at 1:57 PM Post #4 of 8

PurpleAngel

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When it comes to volume control, is there a best practice when it comes to the PC -> DAC -> amp route? For example, I read somewhere (don't know where now) that the PC volume & DAC volume should both be maxed out and you should just adjust the volume using the amp. Are there any benefits in doing this?

I normally keep my DAC volume at its highest (if I'm using a DAC that has a potentiometer like D50s) and my amp volume at around the 9 o'clock position and then simply change the volume using my PC which is the easiest method for me since I can do so from my keyboard... I have tried to play around with my setup to see if I can notice any difference but to my untrained, aging ears it all sounds the same. How do you normally adjust your volume?
It's not that big a deal if you prefer to control volume using the PC.
 
Aug 17, 2020 at 4:21 PM Post #5 of 8

fufula

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I'd say a good rule of thumb is to keep your volume shenanigans to the absolute minimum. Don't adjust your volume in several places. If your DAC has a knob, do it there and set everything else (OS, player) to 100%. If you're stuck with digital controls, set your player to 100%, and use the system volume controls.
 
Aug 27, 2020 at 10:01 AM Post #8 of 8

gimmeheadroom

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Keep the PC output at 100%, DAC at 0 dB, and adjust the volume at your amp. If you don't, you'll eventually blow your brains out and destroy your speakers or headphones.

Some DACs can show you whether the input is clipping.
 

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