Jump to content

DAC volume bypass?


Recommended Posts

I just got my first DAC. (It has a tube-buffer and can also be used as a headphone amplifier.) I have the option to bypass the volume control and use it only as a DAC. However, I would like to stream music into it to my pre-amp. Are there any differences in the sound quality if I bypass the volume control and run it directly into my pre-amp, or should I just leave the volume control as-is?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The bypass is a slight modification. I was wondering if someone else has done this before I make an attempt.

This is dependent on the quality of the volume configuration and the buffer on the DAC,  If you are using a pre-amp, likely the volume control on the dac shouldn't be used because the output is typically spec'd at a particular voltage, say 2volts.  The pre-amp will be looking for certain voltage and impedance..  A DAC as you are referring to which likely is more geared to a headphone amp, would likely be best when using the volume control when used for headphones.  If you are going to use the DAC's volume control, you should probably not be using it into the pre-amp.


As Mustang Guy is alluding to though is, this all is really dependent on the DAC. Try it both ways and one type of matching may make you happy vs. the other.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Considering that this is a resistor ladder design and not done in the digital domain, the volume control shouldn't sound all that bad.  If you are using it with a good pre-amp, there is likely no reason to use the volume control unless using headphones.  The volume control would be best used if the DAC is used as a pre-amp instead of your current pre-amp.


You will need to plug the DAC in and play with it to find the best sound.  This is going to most likely come down to component matching and your preference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The volume should be for the headphone jack on the front as pz mentioned. It's either a simple potentiometer or a step resistor and is connected to the headphone internal amplifier. Either way, all it does is reduced the output voltage to the headphone jack. The quality of the headphone amplifier is everything here, not the volume knob. If you already have a preamp or you have an integrated amp, you would "probably" be better off using that volume or level know than the one in this headphone amp. It all depends on the equipment you are connecting this thing to. Long story short, the front jack is for headphones if you don't have a better than average headphone amp connected somewhere else. 


In the back, there are two outputs. As I understand it, tube buffer and straight through solid state. The tube buffer "should" add some warmth to the sound, and "should" sound better to human ears. Your mileage may vary, and I could be wrong. It's too bad there is no user manual out there for it. At least not in English.


What are you connecting this DAC to?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Where do you see this is a ladder design?

CS3310 do electronic volume from the specs.


As Mustang Guy stated, the quality of the sound will come down to the pre-amp quality.  I pointed out the fact on the volume control because most people using DACs are more worried about the volume being done in the digital vs analog domain causing a reduction in resolution.  This thread was mostly pointing to using or not using the volume.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am streaming Tidal from my iPhone 6 to the DAC. The DAC is being connected to a TAD-150 Signature. So far I am tempted to not modify it, because the sound is really good.

The TAD also has a headphone jack on the face. It would be interesting to hear which of the two headphone jacks sounds best to you. See below, as the two are subjected to an enormous difference in processing.


As I see it, you have 5 ways of listening through these devices from least to most processing. This is NOT from best to worst. You will decide based on what you like or want.


1. Headphones directly connected to the front of the DAC

2. Connect straight out RCA from DAC to preamp, then to amp.

3. Connect straight out RCA from DAC to preamp, then to headphones.

4. Connect tube buffer out RCA from DAC to preamp, then to amp.

5. Connect tube buffer out RCA from DAC to preamp, then to headphones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...