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Could use some guidance please - PC, Topping D10S, SMSL SA300 + Emotiva

billymac

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Hi gang. I've been searching and reading the forum for answers on "where to control volume", but am still struggling a bit with volume control on my new setup and I think the wildcard is my new subwoofer and how I'm cabling for bass management. Looking for some best practices here.

New Windows 11 PC
Topping D10S
SMSL SA300
Emotiva B1+
Emotiva SE8 Sub (using HPF)

I'm running USB from PC to the D10S and then from there a pair of RCA's to SE8 sub to leverage bass management. From SE8, RCA's to SA300 and on to speakers.

If I set Windows volume to ~95% and use the SMSL to control volume, I'm either getting way too much bass at low volumes or I have to set the gain on the sub extremely low. If I set Windows volume to say 50%, I find I'm usually at 32-40 on the SA300 and end up having to fiddle with BOTH volume controls frequently based on source material.

Could really use some guidance here. Thank you in advance and please advise.
 
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billymac

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I've been reading some more and also playing around with the setup. It appears I can only achieve variable volume control from the subwoofer if I use windows to control the volume. If I'm correct, this means I have to "gain match" the SMSL (B1+'s) and the subwoofer gain so that it "sounds good", right?

I plan on buying the E30 soon so I can leverage optical input with a refurb'd Sonos Connect, but I'm going to be facing the same "problem" given the volume/gain on the E30 is fixed when in DAC mode, right?

Is there a better solution here, or mix in products? Sounds great, don't get me wrong, but I would like to avoid "max volume" incidents and reduce the fiddle factor. Loving the B1+ and SE8 combo as a 2.1 for my home office!

TIA
 

AnalogSteph

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I've been reading some more and also playing around with the setup. It appears I can only achieve variable volume control from the subwoofer if I use windows to control the volume. If I'm correct, this means I have to "gain match" the SMSL (B1+'s) and the subwoofer gain so that it "sounds good", right?
Indeed. Set DAC volume to about -30 dB (ca. level 13 in Windows), aim for a normal playback volume via the SA300, then adjust sub level to match. BTW, they say the amateur will dial in 20 dB too much bass and the pro 10 dB ;), so having a measurement microphone and REW on hand won't hurt.
I plan on buying the E30 soon so I can leverage optical input with a refurb'd Sonos Connect, but I'm going to be facing the same "problem" given the volume/gain on the E30 is fixed when in DAC mode, right?
Then don't use DAC mode (duh).
Is there a better solution here, or mix in products? Sounds great, don't get me wrong, but I would like to avoid "max volume" incidents and reduce the fiddle factor.
I mean, you could probably use the onboard sound output as well without losing much of anything, but then you couldn't accommodate the Sonos Connect.
 

-Matt-

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I'm not really familiar with the SMSL SA300 but I looked it up and it seems to have a sub output.

Screenshot_20220525-014123_Firefox.jpg


The manual states the following feature:

* Super bass preamp output for connecting active subwoofers to form a 2.1 audio system

It is not totally clear if the sub output will work when you feed the SA300 via the analogue inputs (rca from the D10s). It could be worth a try as this would probably allow the SA300 volume control to work in sync for both the speakers and sub. (You may have to enable "Super Bass" in the menus).

The problem with the way you have it wired at the moment (to use the bass management in the sub) is that the sub doesn't see any change in signal when you adjust the volume control on the SA300. If you can use the SA300 sub output then this signal should vary in sync with the volume control (hopefully). You should still be able to use the crossover controls on your sub, but the SA300 may also apply its own low pass filter on the sub output.

(Note: It is also possible that the sub output will only operate if the signal is passed digitally via the usb input or bluetooth, hence removing the D10s which you probably don't want).

Just to clarify, Im suggesting trying...
PC >usb> D10s >rca> SA300 >rca> Sub
SA300 also wired to speakers, of course.

PC volume left @100%, sub level adjusted once, then use the volume control on the SA300.
 
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billymac

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I'm not really familiar with the SMSL SA300 but I looked it up and it seems to have a sub output.

View attachment 208709

The manual states the following feature:

* Super bass preamp output for connecting active subwoofers to form a 2.1 audio system

It is not totally clear if the sub output will work when you feed the SA300 via the analogue inputs (rca from the D10s). It could be worth a try as this would probably allow the SA300 volume control to work in sync for both the speakers and sub. (You may have to enable "Super Bass" in the menus).

The problem with the way you have it wired at the moment (to use the bass management in the sub) is that the sub doesn't see any change in signal when you adjust the volume control on the SA300. If you can use the SA300 sub output then this signal should vary in sync with the volume control (hopefully). You should still be able to use the crossover controls on your sub, but the SA300 may also apply its own low pass filter on the sub output.

(Note: It is also possible that the sub output will only operate if the signal is passed digitally via the usb input or bluetooth, hence removing the D10s which you probably don't want).

Just to clarify, Im suggesting trying...
PC >usb> D10s >rca> SA300 >rca> Sub
SA300 also wired to speakers, of course.

PC volume left @100%, sub level adjusted once, then use the volume control on the SA300.
Thanks for the replies. Matt, I thought about connecting this way out of the gate, but if I do so, I lose bass management of SE8 and am unable to use HPF to the B1+ speakers. Maybe not a huge deal and I can certainly try it, but was hoping to leverage this functionality for higher listening volumes. For example, setting HPF at 60Hz to the B1’s.
 

-Matt-

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What exactly is this bass management?
Is this something more advanced than the crossover in the sub?

The SA300 likely has some form of internal bass management in order to function.

...and as I mentioned you'd still be able to control sub gain and cutoff etc.

Edit: Re-reading your comment it seems the main thing you want is a HPF for the signal sent to the B1+ speakers. You are probably right that you would lose this by connecting as I suggested. (Though it is not impossible that enabling "Super Bass" to use the sub out of the SA300 also switches on a HPF for the speaker outputs). Worth a try anyway for the potential convenience of a single unified (and physical) volume comtrol.

Edit 2: Do the SA300 menus provide any more settings or clues as to what the "Super Bass" thing actually does? Does it let you select a crossover frequency for example? (The manual that I found contains very little info).
 
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billymac

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What exactly is this bass management?
Is this something more advanced than the crossover in the sub?

The SA300 likely has some form of internal bass management in order to function.

...and as I mentioned you'd still be able to control sub gain and cutoff etc.

Edit: Re-reading your comment it seems the main thing you want is a HPF for the signal sent to the B1+ speakers. You are probably right that you would lose this by connecting as I suggested. (Though it is not impossible that enabling "Super Bass" to use the sub out of the SA300 also switches on a HPF for the speaker outputs). Worth a try anyway for the potential convenience of a single unified (and physical) volume comtrol.

Thanks Matt. Yes, SE8 sub has RCA line level inputs (as well as single-end LFE, but then also has a pair of RCA outputs with an active HPF, selectable at 60, 80 or 100Hz. Pretty unique as I understand it.

At any rate, I’ll give your suggestion a shot and report back. I was simply trying to avoid sending B1’s full range. Hopefully SA300 has something that solves for this when Sub out is active. I didn’t think it did, but certainly could have overlooked it while researching. Thanks again for your time and guidance. Much appreciated.
 
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billymac

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What exactly is this bass management?
Is this something more advanced than the crossover in the sub?

The SA300 likely has some form of internal bass management in order to function.

...and as I mentioned you'd still be able to control sub gain and cutoff etc.

Edit: Re-reading your comment it seems the main thing you want is a HPF for the signal sent to the B1+ speakers. You are probably right that you would lose this by connecting as I suggested. (Though it is not impossible that enabling "Super Bass" to use the sub out of the SA300 also switches on a HPF for the speaker outputs). Worth a try anyway for the potential convenience of a single unified (and physical) volume comtrol.

Edit 2: Do the SA300 menus provide any more settings or clues as to what the "Super Bass" thing actually does? Does it let you select a crossover frequency for example? (The manual that I found contains very little info).

So that setup works, but there is no HPF for the mains. Probably over-thinking it, but HPF to the mains would be nice to have for louder volumes for sure and would have to think it would make it so the amp didn't have to work as hard. "Super Bass" is just a EQ filter curve I'm pretty sure. I'll go re-read the SMSL SA300 thread.

SA300 is nice and definitely a value at $149, but I'm leaning towards looking at Topping for a 2-3 unit stack. Maybe the 30 series, or one step up. This little setup is doing a fantastic job and I know I'm quickly reaching a point of diminishing returns, but think I may look at a Topping for a complete stack. I need a headphone amp, so maybe a modest upgrade to E30 (need the optical input for Sonos) and L30 for now and add a PA30 later to replace the SMSL.
 
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billymac

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So changing this up a bit...

I just ordered up a Topping DX3Pro+ DAC/Amp and a Topping PA3s amplifier. As I understand it, I'll be able to connect as follows:

PC USB --> DX3Pro+ --> RCA in on SE8 Sub --> RCA out on SE8 Sub --> PA3s RCA in

All I should have to do is gain match the amp and the sub, set crossover and HPF on the sub and I'll have variable volume control at the DX3Pro+, while cutting sub 60Hz frequencies to the B1+ speakers.

Am I missing anything? New gear should all be here this weekend.
 

-Matt-

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Yes, I'm pretty sure that should work as you intend.

Enjoy your new toys! :cool:
 
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