BHK Pre - Am I making the most of its volume level?

I recently got my malfunctioning BHK Monoblock back from repair and it is sounding fantastic.

So I’ve been doing a lot of listening on my system (DSDac/BHK Pre/BHK300s/PMC MB2 SE Speakers).

I find that most of the time the volume level on the BHK Pre is between about 12 - 18.

Occasionally if there is some older or more quietly recorded music (or if there is also ambient noise e.g. if I’m listening during the day) I might push the volume up into the early 20s.

My question is, am I making the most of my BHK pre using these low volume levels?

Would I better off lowering the volume on the DSDac to say 80-90 and use more gain from the preamp? Does it make any difference?

I would like to be able to adjust the volume in smaller increments by lowering the DAC volume, but not if it will degrade the sound.


The volume control on the DAC does not degrade the sound.

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I think that Ted has stated that dialing the DSD down to 89 or 90 and using the BHK Pre to control volume is beneficial to sound.

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OK thanks guys I will experiment with the lower volume setting on the DAC.

@drarifakhtar - a good read; set the BHKPRE to its sweet spot (mine is 65), then tune the DSD. Pay attention to Mark’s (badbeef) comments on how to set up the BHKPRE, then DSD… it’s counterintuitive so you need to absorb the thread.
Life at 80 to 90 is great (click bait title)

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Thanks will check it out:)

Don’t ADD the thread… absorb it and take your time, it is a result of Ted, and a few others thoughts… I don’t touch my BHKPRE volume, I use my DSD and like you, I like the resolution better.

[edit] I change my PRE setting depending on source. With streaming set to 70 and DMP set to 65. Lately I have added new BHK300s, Matrix instead of BII, and Iconoclast SPTPC speaker cables and I have readjusted the pre streaming to 65 using streaming (Nucleus+ to Matrix). I have not really gotten to the DMP yet…

[edit 2] I like the gain slope of the DSD better than the BHKPRE; it feels less sensitive so I have a larger # range for a given impact, reason I keep the PRE at the sweet-spot # for each source and use the DSD as the overall system volume.

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This is pretty interesting. From an audio engineering perspective this is actually terrible gain staging, reducing source volume and S/N, and then boosting the noise floor by adding preamp gain, but I’d also believe it could sound better if you don’t mind or hear the noise. This trick should give you a dynamic range of CD quality or less, and probably isn’t a great idea with 24 bit or DSD.


I’m not going to be using the DSD to change volume though. I’m just interested in reducing it to a fixed lower volume and using the BHK pre as usual. Hopefully this will give me some finer steps in the volume control.

@drarifakhtar - then I have found mine sounds best between 80 and 85, just as the post indicates. I never liked it above 85.

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What was the issue with the BHK monoblocks that required repair?

One of them was making loud banging and popping noises.

Do you know what caused the banging noise ? Was it the same fault condition I experienced - which turned out to be a faulty input board.

Yes apparently it was a faulty input board. Was strange since it worked fine for about five months before the problem appeared.

Same here. One morning when I switched on the amplifiers I just about jumped out my skin. A loud thump that almost burst the speaker drivers. I love the musical qualities of the BHK amplifiers, but certainly not the most reliable amplifiers I’ve owned.

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Mine started quietly and indistinctly - at first I thought they were sounds coming from outside. They also happened at random times.

Gradually they became louder and more frequent. By the time I sent it back the bangs were there all the time and really loud to the point where I was scared they would damage my speakers.

I think if it is even just the two of us who had this problem - that is a lot (how many BHK300s could exist), - we are not talking about a cheap mass market amp that there are millions of.

I just hope it doesn’t happen again or with the other amp because sending it back is a literal pain (in my back). Like you said sounds great, just reliability is a concern.

With all the multitude of amps i’ve had over the years I’ve never had one need a repair so soon. Indeed the only repairs I’ve needed have been to replace noisy volume knobs after years of use, or internal fuses after being connected directly to the mains. This one blew a fuse a couple of weeks after getting it (when connected to the P20) then a few months later developed this fault.

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