Optimal pre amp volume.

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If you have a DAC with a digital volume control built in, then the following applies :

Set the DAC output to its maximum. The DAC opamps for the output voltage of 2.1volts RMS will have low THD. This also ensures the maximum S/N. If the preamp is sensitive, and 2.1volt RMS overdrives the pre-amp, then use inline attenuators, such that with the maximum volume setting on the pre-amp potentiometer, that the power amplifier is at its maximum or slightly more (just about clipping).

The strategy is that you need to obtain the full use of the pre-amp potentiometer, to ensure that channel mismatch is reduced for low volume settings. Also, by using the maximum output capability of the components, ensures a high S/N throughout the chain. If you rarely use the full power from the power amplifier, then adding inline attenuation devices aswell, between the pre-amp and power amp will be optimal. You are then obtaining the greatest S/N from DAC to pre-amp, and also ensuring that you use the full range of the pre-amp potentiometer for the pre-amp to power amp connection for your desired listening level.

Once you reduce the signal to a specific level, and then have to amplify later, you lose S/N, never to be regained. The above also ignores noise figures for the inputs to the components (it is a simple explanation).



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