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Is it okay to use the DAC to control volume?

SuperDerpBro

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Currently using a cheap DAC that i bought because it looked cool, had a remote, and was cheap (AIYIMA DAC-A1), lol. It's the only device capable of controlling volume VIA a remote in my setup at the moment. I've been searching all over. I see people saying it's okay to use the DAC to control the volume, and people saying its not. I also plan on buying a cheap amp in the next few days. Currently looking at the AIYIMA A03 and A07. Should I try to find another amp with remote volume? Or is using the DAC whith either of those ok? Sources will be a headless PC and a CD player. I'm using foobar2000 on the PC at the moment, but I'm likely going to go to a dedicated streaming OS at some point.

Cheers. :)
 

Jimbob54

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Yes but take care that you turn dac on first, check volume then turn on amp. Then play music. Do the reverse for shut down.

Don't rely on the dac to remember it's volume.

See another current thread on the perils of having no volume pot between a dac that's controlling volume and a pure power amp.
 
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SuperDerpBro

SuperDerpBro

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Thanks for the reply. From what I'm reading it reduces the bit depth when lowering the volume VIA DAC? foobar outputs 24bits (if i've set it up right, lol) but CD players are only 16. Isn't that bad? Also, the DAC specs say RCA output level: 2.3V.. Isn't that crazy high? https://tinyurl.com/mv7v9h9a

Link to the other thread? There are a few. Just want to read the one you are thinking of :)
 

Daverz

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Thanks for the reply. From what I'm reading it reduces the bit depth when lowering the volume VIA DAC? foobar outputs 24bits (if i've set it up right, lol) but CD players are only 16. Isn't that bad? Also, the DAC specs say RCA output level: 2.3V.. Isn't that crazy high? https://tinyurl.com/mv7v9h9a

Link to the other thread? There are a few. Just want to read the one you are thinking of :)

Using 24 bit output from the music server, you still have 48 dB of attenuation before the dynamic range goes below CD quality (attenuation ~ 6 dB per bit).

2.3 V DAC output is pretty typical, really. What is the sensitivity of your amp?
 

DVDdoug

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Thanks for the reply. From what I'm reading it reduces the bit depth when lowering the volume VIA DAC?
Yes, but...

Under normal conditions you won't actually HEAR any loss of quality/resolution as you reduce the volume.

If you convert a file to 8-bits (which you can do with Audacity if you want to play-around) you WILL hear the loss of resolution as quantization noise... A kind of "fuzz" on top of the audio.

At 16-bits or better the quantization noise is below audibility. If you lower the volume digitally to where you're only using 8-bits, the quantization noise doesn't get lowered along with the signal but it still remains below audibility.

If you re-amplify to get full-volume 8-bit audio, now you'll hear the quantization noise. That may be a concern if you have "too much" analog gain and you're not attenuating when you want to lower the volume but just to get normal volume. In that case you'll never be getting/using the full digital resolution.

And something very similar happens with analog... If you lower the volume and then re-amplify you usually end-up with lower quality (including a worse signal-to-noise ratio) than what you started with.
 
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SuperDerpBro

SuperDerpBro

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Using 24 bit output from the music server, you still have 48 dB of attenuation before the dynamic range goes below CD quality (attenuation ~ 6 dB per bit).

2.3 V DAC output is pretty typical, really. What is the sensitivity of your amp?
Thanks for that info. I doubt i'll ever lower the volume that much heh :)

I'm not sure what my amp sensitivity is. I'm using some Edifer powered speakers until I decide what amp and speakers to buy.

Yes, but...

Under normal conditions you won't actually HEAR any loss of quality/resolution as you reduce the volume.

If you convert a file to 8-bits (which you can do with Audacity if you want to play-around) you WILL hear the loss of resolution as quantization noise... A kind of "fuzz" on top of the audio.

At 16-bits or better the quantization noise is below audibility. If you lower the volume digitally to where you're only using 8-bits, the quantization noise doesn't get lowered along with the signal but it still remains below audibility.

If you re-amplify to get full-volume 8-bit audio, now you'll hear the quantization noise. That may be a concern if you have "too much" analog gain and you're not attenuating when you want to lower the volume but just to get normal volume. In that case you'll never be getting/using the full digital resolution.

And something very similar happens with analog... If you lower the volume and then re-amplify you usually end-up with lower quality (including a worse signal-to-noise ratio) than what you started with.
Thank you. :)
 
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SuperDerpBro

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Chrispy

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Ouch! heh .. The way I set it up so far is to run the dac and set the "amp" (powered speakers) to as loud as id ever play it comfortably. Then use the DAC to lower for normal listening. If that happened to me I think Id be ok? I also never turn the DAC off.
Seems the lesson is with this level of electronics is to not take the chance from what I gathered from the users of dacs with volume controls....just start the amps after checking volume level of the dac. Seems some just revert to max volume output in some cases.....the setting of the amp wouldn't likely be ideal if that was the bigger limiting factor....

ps I use avrs with volume start up and max limits set in advance. No issues with those at all. I did once have a defective avr that did that out of the box, tho....
 

dualazmak

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As for the safety aspects of start-up (ignition) sequences and shutdown sequences, I assume my post here would be of your reference and interests.
 
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SuperDerpBro

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Seems the lesson is with this level of electronics is to not take the chance from what I gathered from the users of dacs with volume controls....just start the amps after checking volume level of the dac. Seems some just revert to max volume output in some cases.....the setting of the amp wouldn't likely be ideal if that was the bigger limiting factor....

ps I use avrs with volume start up and max limits set in advance. No issues with those at all. I did once have a defective avr that did that out of the box, tho....
As for the safety aspects of start-up (ignition) sequences and shutdown sequences, I assume my post here would be of your reference and interests.
Thanks :D
 

Lambda

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Sure you can and sure it is ok.
You just loos some dynamic / sinad performance.
Not exactly but about as much as turn down the volume.
So if you used the volume controll to lets say about -12dB that's fine and you will not hear a difference but if you never go over -20dB your wasting a lot of potential.
you still have 48 dB of attenuation before the dynamic range goes below CD quality
you don't have many DACs with ~140dB SINAD and you don't have DACs with SIAND over 96dB at -24dB
So this is not true in practice
 

MaxwellsEq

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I ran my DAC directly into my power amp for several years, just using the DAC volume control. I never had any issues, but I was aware that I was running at risk.
 
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SuperDerpBro

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Sure you can and sure it is ok.
You just loos some dynamic / sinad performance.
Not exactly but about as much as turn down the volume.
So if you used the volume controll to lets say about -12dB that's fine and you will not hear a difference but if you never go over -20dB your wasting a lot of potential.

you don't have many DACs with ~140dB SINAD and you don't have DACs with SIAND over 96dB at -24dB
So this is not true in practice
Hmm :/

I ran my DAC directly into my power amp for several years, just using the DAC volume control. I never had any issues, but I was aware that I was running at risk.
Yea, seems very easy to avoid problems if you even remotely careful.


Super newb question... If you are not connecting a DAC directly to your amp... what ARE you connecting it to? lol

CD player/DAC/?/Amp
 

Chrispy

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You might plug a dac into a pre-amp....especially if you have other sources than the dac handles.
 

Doodski

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Super newb question... If you are not connecting a DAC directly to your amp... what ARE you connecting it to? lol

CD player/DAC/?/Amp
I know it seems counter-intuitive when one can directly output to an amp from a DAC although there are potentiometer kits available and some even have a remote control. The potentiometer kit would provide a layer of protection in having a resistive element in-line that would be set at less than 100% and probably about 60% to 70% of the dial rotation.
 

Cars-N-Cans

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Thanks for the reply. From what I'm reading it reduces the bit depth when lowering the volume VIA DAC? foobar outputs 24bits (if i've set it up right, lol) but CD players are only 16. Isn't that bad? Also, the DAC specs say RCA output level: 2.3V.. Isn't that crazy high? https://tinyurl.com/mv7v9h9a

Link to the other thread? There are a few. Just want to read the one you are thinking of :)
What are you using as an amp? Does it have any options for gain? Ideally you want the source to do much of the voltage amplification, with the amp providing a few more dB and the high current needed to drive the speakers. This also avoids having a low SNR from having the source play low, and the amp have large amounts of gain to make up the difference. This is the scenario that blows stuff up. If the gain of the amplifier can be set, then set it so that even if the source ends up at full volume, it wont instantly nuke your speakers. It will be loud, the speakers will sound like crap and the amp may even start to clip, but at least it gives you time to react. Additionally it removes the factor of user error if you accidently turn things on out of sequence. But, like equalization, amps with adjustable gain seem to have been forced to extinction in the audiophile world.
 

JSmith

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JSmith
 
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MaxwellsEq

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Super newb question... If you are not connecting a DAC directly to your amp... what ARE you connecting it to? lol

CD player/DAC/?/Amp
The "classic" is for sources (turntable, cassette deck, tuner, reel to reel) that are plugged into a preamp, which switches between them, and has a volume control. The preamp sends line level signals to a power amp which can deliver enough volts and amps to drive the speaker. So, a CD player or DAC would plug into the preamp.

In some cases, the two amplifiers were in one box, known as an integrated amp. But many people did not have separates, so "amplifier" or "receiver" (US), is synonymous with the combined integrated amp.

Modern devices such as CD and DACs produce higher voltage than runners did, so can easily drive a power amp directly. You can also feed them via an attenuator (passive preamp), but that's a different rabbit hole.
 
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SuperDerpBro

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What are you using as an amp? Does it have any options for gain? Ideally you want the source to do much of the voltage amplification, with the amp providing a few more dB and the high current needed to drive the speakers. This also avoids having a low SNR from having the source play low, and the amp have large amounts of gain to make up the difference. This is the scenario that blows stuff up. If the gain of the amplifier can be set, then set it so that even if the source ends up at full volume, it wont instantly nuke your speakers. It will be loud, the speakers will sound like crap and the amp may even start to clip, but at least it gives you time to react. Additionally it removes the factor of user error if you accidently turn things on out of sequence. But, like equalization, amps with adjustable gain seem to have been forced to extinction in the audiophile world.
Right now i am using powered speakers. While I decide on an amp and speakers. I have the volume pot set to just a teeny bit louder than I would ever listen to it. I then control the volume VIA DAC or foobar, depending on where I'm sitting.





JSmith
Thanks :)

The "classic" is for sources (turntable, cassette deck, tuner, reel to reel) that are plugged into a preamp, which switches between them, and has a volume control. The preamp sends line level signals to a power amp which can deliver enough volts and amps to drive the speaker. So, a CD player or DAC would plug into the preamp.

In some cases, the two amplifiers were in one box, known as an integrated amp. But many people did not have separates, so "amplifier" or "receiver" (US), is synonymous with the combined integrated amp.

Modern devices such as CD and DACs produce higher voltage than runners did, so can easily drive a power amp directly. You can also feed them via an attenuator (passive preamp), but that's a different rabbit hole.
Ahh. I did look into preamps and CD/digital players. Everything I found said no. heh

Another newb question. If a DAC says 24bit does that mean that it converts everything to 24bit for its processing? The chip in mine is a ES9018Q2M.
 
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