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Digital Volume Controls

Radioham

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Quite a number of amplifiers I have use a digital volume control chip. I find it quite difficult to set the volume to a decent level. Most controls go from 00 to 99 and nothing is heard until you get to about 40, 50 to 60 is fine above 60 is too loud. The volume is by some form of multiturn control. I called in to my local dealer today who had just finished giving a dem to a customer (ATC speakers/Hi-End Sansui amp) and that was the customers same comment, why does he need to turn the volume knob so many times times before he hears anything ? I know there are software solutions like set the volume on start up etc. For my next amplifier I think I will be looking at an ALPS pot, rather than a chip.
 

MartinC

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I've used analogue volume controls where I've used less than a third of the adjustment range, and I've used a digital volume on it's absolute maximum setting. Rather than the technology it's the implementation, amp gain, source level and speaker sensitivity that will affect the volume control range used.
 
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Firebottle

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The digital chips are operating with even steps of 0.5 or 1dB so needing to be turned up a lot.

The volume pots usually have a logarithmic law so require less rotation to gain more volume.
 

Lawrence001

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The digital chips are operating with even steps of 0.5 or 1dB so needing to be turned up a lot.

The volume pots usually have a logarithmic law so require less rotation to gain more volume.
Why don't they start with 2db steps or even more right at the bottom?
 
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JANDL100

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I've had gear with digital volume controls that have larger steps at lower volume - a real pain in the butt with sensitive speakers!

And also gear with the finest steps very near max, where most folks would be blowing the windows out so never used.

So that way leads to madness as well!
 

Alan

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I listen to digital mostly, via an SMSL M-400 DAC (which I find really, really good). The analogue pre amplifier is set at 12 o'clock almost permanently, and depending on the recording and my mood I adjust the digital volume on the DAC. It works exceptionally well, I never get to full DAC volume. I feel it gives me the best of both worlds.
 

StingRay

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Never have a problem with mine, always have the DAC on 100%. Does having the DAC on less than100%, not lower the quality?

My volume control stays where I left it, so don't understand why people, are having to turn the volume up so much, each time.
 

Mynameismud

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Every digital volume amp I’ve used has had a way to set the start up volume or has had a saved preset recall button. Not all manuals were clear about how to set these, took a bit of digging online.
 

Alan

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Never have a problem with mine, always have the DAC on 100%. Does having the DAC on less than100%, not lower the quality?

My volume control stays where I left it, so don't understand why people, are having to turn the volume up so much, each time.
Not really, not for some years now. A digital V.C. is likely to be 32bit if not 24 (which is itself sufficient). Losses are almost non-existent on a modern DAC (certainly way below audibility), and would be mitigated in my case anyway as the DAC V.C. does not need to attenuate very much.

My volume gets adjusted up and down depending upon the album mastering, my mood (I do not like music too loud), and also for when the TV is played through the HiFi - which is quite a lot as it happens. Just people using their systems in different ways.
 
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StingRay

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Not really, not for some years now. A digital V.C. is likely to be 32bit if not 24 (which is itself sufficient). Losses are almost non-existent on a modern DAC (certainly way below audibility), and would be mitigated in my case anyway as the DAC V.C. does not need to attenuate very much.

My volume gets adjusted up and down depending upon the album mastering, my mood (I do not like music too loud), and also for when the TV is played through the HiFi - which is quite a lot as it happens. Just people using their systems in different ways.
On my system, I just leave the DAC on 100% and control the volume on the remote for my amp, the only time I use the DAC volume at a lower setting is if I use headphones. I'm struggling to see the need to reduce the DAC volume unless you have very sensitive speakers or volume control. My control is 1db steps so plenty of control. Turning the DAC down to 50%, you will need to use more amp power, which may suit some amps, as I know some have sweet spots.
 

MartinC

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On my system, I just leave the DAC on 100% and control the volume on the remote for my amp, the only time I use the DAC volume at a lower setting is if I use headphones. I'm struggling to see the need to reduce the DAC volume unless you have very sensitive speakers or volume control. My control is 1db steps so plenty of control. Turning the DAC down to 50%, you will need to use more amp power, which may suit some amps, as I know some have sweet spots.

The context of the thread was really people who only use a digital volume control. There is no need for you to do so in your setup, and I probably wouldn't in your system. The only way where there might be a benefit to you is if some digital attenuation then meant you got to use the analogue volume control on your amp in a range that it performed better in sound quality terms (inc. channel balance) or just gave you finer control.
 

StingRay

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The context of the thread was really people who only use a digital volume control. There is no need for you to do so in your setup, and I probably wouldn't in your system. The only way where there might be a benefit to you is if some digital attenuation then meant you got to use the analogue volume control on your amp in a range that it performed better in sound quality terms (inc. channel balance) or just gave you finer control.
I'm only using a digital volume control or so I thought. Not sure what difference it makes. I have active speakers.
 

Firebottle

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Turning the DAC down to 50%, you will need to use more amp power, which may suit some amps, as I know some have sweet spots.
There is no such thing as 'using more amp power' for a set volume level.
You are just using less attenuation within the amplifier volume control circuit.
 
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StingRay

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There is no such thing as 'using more amp power' for a set volume level.
You are just using less attenuation within the amplifier volume control circuit.
So you are saying the volume won't change despite the input level?
 

Firebottle

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The volume will change for more input level, apologies if I miss understood but I read your post as saying you turned the Dac down to 50% then adjusted the amplifier to get the same level.
That isn't a change of power, only gain.
 
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StingRay

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The volume will change for more input level, apologies if I miss understood but I read your post as saying you turned the Dac down to 50% then adjusted the amplifier to get the same level.
That isn't a change of power, only gain.
So you are saying that if the DAC is turned down to say 50% and then increase the amp volume, to the same level, it won't be any different?
 

Firebottle

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Yes that's right. The 'power' level coming out to the speakers will be exactly the same.

There is a widespread misunderstanding between gain and power. Power is only added at the output (last) stage of the amplifier in order to drive the speakers properly.
The rest of the circuit will be providing voltage gain tempered with the attenuation of whatever is used to control the volume, be it a digital chip or a potentiometer.
 

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