Streamers with volume control - analog Vs digital?

Nopiano

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I was thinking it would be a simpler system - and one less thing to buy and match. I've never been into vinyl and haven't listened to a CD in many years so source selection is not needed. Also, something about the simplicity of powered speakers fed direct by a streamer appealed to me. I might end up going in a completely different direction but I thought this was worth exploring.
I bought my Linn Akurate DSM to ultimately use with active speakers, as the DSM has a preamp and a very useable volume control. (The DS model is a source only and I’m unsure about what level adjustments are available) In the end, when I was about to go active, an unexpected opportunity cropped up to get some passive speakers I especially liked, but I’ve used it with actives successfully.

Used, you can find them from around £2k upwards depending on spec/age.
 

Bodgit

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Question to tap into the knowledge of members please. Could I plug in a streamer (for spotify/ tidal) directly into a power amp - or even powered speakers? I'd imagine many of them would have volume control built in. In these situations, is the volume adjustment done in the digital domain? Does this compress the dynamics?
My take...depends on your budget and your expectations. Both streamers I've owned (Squeezebox Touch and an M&J streamer), have a volume control, but then you're tied into their DAC and 'one box solution'. But they're relatively cheap.
A digital volume control will be tied in with the DAC, and good ones will be expensive. Cheaper analogue volume would be with a pre or integrated amp, whilst really good analogue volume will cost £££.

My current setup is taking the digital out from the SBT, into the Wadia which performs DAC and pre duties, volume there is "only" 24 bit so not up to today's 32 bit standards, but its still pretty darn good.
 
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TheFlash

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I was thinking it would be a simpler system - and one less thing to buy and match. I've never been into vinyl and haven't listened to a CD in many years so source selection is not needed. Also, something about the simplicity of powered speakers fed direct by a streamer appealed to me. I might end up going in a completely different direction but I thought this was worth exploring.
The Chord DAVE is pricey but has a well designed volume control. Unfortunately it’s only a DAC/pre not a streamer/DAC/pre so you’d need another (streamer) box!
 
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TheFlash

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I suppose if I wanted to be picky (oh go on then), there is no such thing as a (pure) streamer with volume control. If you use a "streamer" with volume control, you're actually restricted to using its internal DAC. We'll be talking streamer/DAC's then, as the volume control comes with the DAC bit not the streamer bit.

While I can see the attraction of not using a pre, I'd be focusing on finding the right DAC with volume control; if the one you like most happens to incorporate a streamer, that's a box saved but if it doesn't then I would rather have the extra (streamer) box than take a hit in sound quality.
 
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timmytiger

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I use a power amp with volume control, run the streamer (PC in this case) at full volume all the time and change source with a simple switch box.

Depends a bit on what you've bought already.
 
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tuga

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My take...depends on your budget and your expectations. Both streamers I've owned (Squeezebox Touch and an M&J streamer), have a volume control, but then you're tied into their DAC and 'one box solution'. But they're relatively cheap.
A digital volume control will be tied in with the DAC, and good ones will be expensive. Cheaper analogue volume would be with a pre or integrated amp, whilst really good analogue volume will cost £££.

My current setup is taking the digital out from the SBT, into the Wadia which performs DAC and pre duties, volume there is "only" 24 bit so not up to today's 32 bit standards, but its still pretty darn good.

I think that the volume in HQPlayer is 80-bit. :p
 
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oldius

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I have a Cambridge 851n and a couple of Logitech Squeezebox Touches.
Both my integrated amplifiers have the capability of being used as power amps only and I have tried both streamers as pre-amps and as streamers ( into separate DAC and directly). I can only advise that you try both settings if the chance is available to you. IME, connecting to a separate pre-amp effectively acts as a tone control that you may prefer. Some days, I prefer the sound that bypasses the pre-amp in the integrateds, and others not - my ears adjust fairly quickly and mood, rather than outright quality, dictates the preference. The comment about being careful is very valid: if using direct, turn your streamer on first and adjust its volume before turning any connected amplifier on.
 
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oldius

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I suppose if I wanted to be picky (oh go on then), there is no such thing as a (pure) streamer with volume control. If you use a "streamer" with volume control, you're actually restricted to using its internal DAC. We'll be talking streamer/DAC's then, as the volume control comes with the DAC bit not the streamer bit.

While I can see the attraction of not using a pre, I'd be focusing on finding the right DAC with volume control; if the one you like most happens to incorporate a streamer, that's a box saved but if it doesn't then I would rather have the extra (streamer) box than take a hit in sound quality.
I use an SBT into my separate dac and use the SBT's volume. Output is set to digital only.
 

tuga

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I use an SBT into my separate dac and use the SBT's volume. Output is set to digital only.
You might, but I have absolutely no idea how it works!
To be honest I would avoid using the digital volume in an older DAC or streamer because it's almost certain that it will be "lossy".
But if that is not audible then why not?

I find Spotify's (for MacOS) audibly poor.
 
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oldius

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To be honest I would avoid using the digital volume in an older DAC or streamer because it's almost certain that it will be "lossy".
But if that is not audible then why not?

I find Spotify's (for MacOS) audibly poor.
Generally, I only use it that way into the 'power amp only' mode of my integrated. Most of the time, I have volume set at 100% and use the amp's volume control.
 

DomT

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I think that the bigger part of the problem will be finding decent enough active speakers that are not designed for near field. Unless of course the OP has lots of money to spend.
 
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Hummer

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I have not had much success with digital volume controls as I have always found using my preamp a better route. Generally I have found a loss of dynamics and therefore as Oldius mentioned I turn up my volume to 100% on the digital output and then control this with the volume control in my preamp. Switching backwards and forwards between digital and analogue volume controls exposes the difference easily with analogue the much preferred option.

I know some digital streamers/DACs have built in preamp sections which maybe in the analogue domain and maybe OK but unless you can hear this for yourself and compare it against a none digital analog route I would be cautious.
 

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Hi,
my TEAC ud701n has an analogue pre amp complete with rca/XLR inputs and outputs. Its predecessor, NT 505 also had a preamp, but I have only ever used either in fixed volume output mode, as is the Node. Full specs here:
Ud701n
a superb performer to my ears and a Swiss Army knife of versatility. The Esoteric version N05 XD costs £10800,