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overdrive protection for speakers from DAC, etc

talkingbook

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This question has been asked on this forum before, but I haven't seen great answers to it yet in my searching
There are several threads on this forum about people ruining speakers when the DAC got reset to 0dB- this seems an inherent danger of using a DAC.
What is a straight solution to this problem?
I am trying to prepare for DAC ownership, currently planning to get the Modi+ DAC, but might get the Topping E50.

Solutions I saw on threads:
* properly size the amplifier power to the speakers, but this puts a lot of limitations on a setup and is still not completely foolproof
* add a potentiometer (maybe via preamp) and make sure your kid doesn't crank it up
* use a preamp with volume limitation settings

For specific solutions that were mentioned in threads for a basic potentiometer, there was a
* very expensive version ($200): https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/BabyRAM--heritage-audio-baby-ram-2-channel-monitoring-system
* very inexpensive version with remote control ($35) https://www.aliexpress.us/item/2251832654309386.html
* Schiit audio switch with potentiometer ($50) https://www.schiit.com/products/sys

The most fool-proof solution would seem to be the Topping P90 preamp ($600): https://www.tpdz.net/productinfo/551297.html
This features volume safeguards.

I can put together a cheap hi fidelity audio system of digital components today. The Modi+ DAC is only $129. But if using passive speakers, I might spend more money and already seem to be spending more effort on protecting my audio system compared to the DAC itself.

Are there any other recommendations to protect speakers from overdrive?
 

DVDdoug

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An analog volume control (pot) "remembers" it's position. With passive speakers you can use an amp with a volume control. An amp with a remote also usually remembers it's setting.

My AVR remembers the volume control settings when turned-off (actually on "standby). ...AVRs solve most of these everyday issues, and I don't need a separate DAC!

My car stereos either remember the setting, or at least one of them may turn-down the volume when turned off (standby).
 
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talkingbook

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This seems like an elegant approach, but will limit DAC choices to those that you would like to use to control your system volume with. As stated here:

If you go for the digital (DAC) volume control, the best way to set it up is with the DAC on max, turn up the amp until it is the loudest you'd expect to ever need, then use the DAC to turn down from there.

Topping E50 is only $200 and has a remote control for volume
 
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DonH56

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A volume control is only as good as the hand on the knob. Have a loud party and leave it turned up, bad things can happen.

A limiter costs more but is a better way to limit the volume.

The cheapest and arguably best approach is to turn on the DAC (and/or preamp) first, then note and lower the volume if it is too high before turning on the power amp.
 

Joe Smith

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I just have a routine - when powering amp or receiver off, volume all the way down, speaker selector switched off. Amp always last thing to be turned on next time around. If using an amp with no volume control, I always use an in line preamp with a volume control, again all the way to 0 when powering down. Being anal about equipment routines is the best protection!
 

antcollinet

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Use an inexpensive (but good) volume control sucha s the behringer Monitor 1. With your dac set to full, use the volume control to set a level at the loudest you'd like to listen to. Then put that volume control away from prying fingers (including party animals) and use the Dac volume control to turn it down from there.

An alternative to the volume control (but less flexible) would be to use fixed attenuator "pads".
 

AdamG

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A volume control is only as good as the hand on the knob. Have a loud party and leave it turned up, bad things can happen.

A limiter costs more but is a better way to limit the volume.

The cheapest and arguably best approach is to turn on the DAC (and/or preamp) first, then note and lower the volume if it is too high before turning on the power amp.
Following this line of thinking is Always have your thumb on the Mute button of the remote when turning on the power. But alas I have two fried Tweeter magnets hanging from the garage fridge as a constant reminder that I was not fast enough draw!
 

unpluggged

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Use speakers with built-in overdrive protection with matched sensitivity to your DAC. That's why I like Neumann speakers: you can set their input sensitivity within a very broad range, and these settings are consistent and reproducible, so you know which SPL they produce at a given volume setting. That's how I use them with my RME ADI-2 Pro: I set speakers' sensitivity to the minimum (94 dB SPL at 0 dBu input level with additional 15 dB pad), so that even if I drive them with a 24 dBu signal they don't overload. And even if they would, they have built-in limiter and corresponding indication.

If you insist on using passive speakers with a power amp, then adjust amp's gain/sensitivity so that maximum input level would not overdrive your speakers. You may want to use passive fixed attenuators if your amp has no sufficient sensitivity controls. This is not as efficient as having a limiter in addition to matched levels, but it would still cover most of the errors.
 
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talkingbook

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Making the cheap RC-11 work is a compelling option, thanks for pointing to that review! Is there a non-Amazon source to buy it from? Amazon has co-mingled inventory with knock-offs. Probably doesn't affect the small audiophile market as much, but it's nice to not have to worry about it.

A limiter costs more but is a better way to limit the volume.

Are there any resources on limiters? Every device I have found seems to effectively be a manually adjusted potentiometer. I was hoping there would be a way to clip the output when it goes too high.
 

dougi

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