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How does volume control work with a separate streamer?

Freighter

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So currently I have an AVR with Airplay built in. In this setup I can simply airplay to the AVR and then control the volume using my phone directly. My phones volume will be the same as the AVR’s volume and vice versa. So one volume control.

Now for another setup I’m looking at a separate stereo integrated amp and a streamer combo. However I don’t quite understand how volume control works. It’s going to have double volume control; on the streamer and on the stereo?

It would be connected like: streamer > optical > stereo.

I figured maybe if the streamer has a fixed volume level you could control it on the stereo, but then, since it’s fixed, volume control on the phone for for instance AirPlay won’t work?

Vice versa if you set the stereo amp to fixed you could and leave the streamer variable, you could only control it through your phone (the streamer has no volume knob), but then you couldn’t control the volume using the amp.

Is that normally how this sort of setup works? It feels very clunky compared to a solution where it’s all built in? Or is there a workaround for this?

I do like being able to use both my phones volume AND the volume knob on the stereo itself.
 

ninetylol

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It's the same as your avr, you chromecast it and can use your phone. You also have amp volume, which you can either use or dont.
 

nerdstrike

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If you're hell-bent on optimum distortion and noise behaviour during playback, it is indeed clunky balancing the levels of source and amplifier to get the volume as you have to balance one against the other. In practice, you might set a sensible level on the amp (maybe higher than normal), and use the digital volume to tweak up and down a few steps, and go for the volume knob when you want to party. It's what I do with my very low-tech phone->DAC->amp setup in the garage
 
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Freighter

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If you're hell-bent on optimum distortion and noise behaviour during playback, it is indeed clunky balancing the levels of source and amplifier to get the volume as you have to balance one against the other. In practice, you might set a sensible level on the amp (maybe higher than normal), and use the digital volume to tweak up and down a few steps, and go for the volume knob when you want to party. It's what I do with my very low-tech phone->DAC->amp setup in the garage
Thanks. That’s what I thought then. I suppose I’ll keep looking for a solution with streaming built in, because this doesn’t seem like what I want.
 

Joffy1780

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If you had a dedicated streamer, you'd be less likely to need to use airplay. And even if you did, you could just have your phone at max volume.
 

Vincent Kars

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I suppose I’ll keep looking for a solution with streaming built in, because this doesn’t seem like what I want.
Wonder if a integrated solution will help you.
Protocols like USB, Airplay, UPnP do have a control protocol. One of them is volume control. They simple tell the renderer to multiply the sample by 0.x to get the desired reduction. Separate or integrated I do expect the digital volume control to work the same.
 
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Freighter

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Wonder if a integrated solution will help you.
Protocols like USB, Airplay, UPnP do have a control protocol. One of them is volume control. They simple tell the renderer to multiply the sample by 0.x to get the desired reduction. Separate or integrated I do expect the digital volume control to work the same.
I’m not entirely sure what you mean by that, but as far as I can tell an integrated solution controls the volume directly, at least when it comes to AirPlay.

In the sense that if I AirPlay a song to my AVR and use my phone to set the volume to 50%, the volume changes to 50% on the amp itself - the display lights up and everything. Vice versa if I move the volume knob on the AVR, the volume slider on my phone will also move as well.

That makes me feel like it’s not doing some sort of multiplication but it’s actually changing the amplification itself.

On a seperate solution it’s like nerdstrike mentioned. You could end up in weird situations, like airplaying to the streamer and having it’s volume (through your phone) volume turned down really low, say 10%. And if you then turn the volume knob to turn up the volume you’ll be amplifying a really low signal - that seems like a recipe for distortion or other audio problems.
 

nerdstrike

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I vaguely recall that Airplay v1 disabled the volume on my macbook, deferring entirely to the amp. Perhaps it depends on the implementation as to precisely what happens.
 

Willem

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In my main system the Chromecast Audio volume is on 100% (using the optical output of the CCA). Volume is controled by the RME AD-2 DAC for best result. However, we also have a simple bedroom system, with once again a Chromecast Audio's optical output as a source, and in this case an Ava Maestro 50 chip amplifier with an optical input. The Maestro has an auto on/off feature, allowing it to be located out of sight. The amp turns on when we play music or listen to the radio, and off when we stop listening. So even though the Maestro has a volume control, we do not regularly use it. We have set it at an average elevel, and use the volume control on our phones to control Chromecast volume. Technically this is not quite as good, but convenient and perfect for the use case.
 
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