Changing the gain on my S300

I’m wondering if there is any way that I can change the gain on my Stellar S300?

I have a SGCD and S300 and my volume level, with digital input is at night about 1 or 2, and during the day at maximum 15 or the highest I’ve ever run the volume (33) is with a low output phonostage.

So, I am not able to get even 1/3 of the volume out.
Paul and many others have pointed out that volume controls sound better higher up. And mine is 99% of the time below ten or so.

My speakers are insensitive, 85db Dali bookshelves.

I hope to be able to change the amp’s gain, because it is too high

1 Like

I have a stellar gain cell and the M700 monoblocks, but did have the S300 for a short time before upgrading to the M700 (volume levels appear the same with the S300 and M700). I use rca type interconnect from a cd/dvd player to the SGCD, and have the volume level between 25 and 50, with 35 being a normal listening level. Speakers are the 97db sensitive Sonist Audio Concerto 4. I don’t think you can change the gain, but you could potentially change the type of connectors you use, but there are tradeoffs with everything. One could easily say that I would get better sound quality going to balanced interconnect, but the balanced connection is also 6db louder than the rca connectors, which would result in much lower numbers on the volume control with the 97db speakers, which would also potentially limit the “opening up” of the soundstage that happens at the higher volume numbers.


What is your source? Does it have a volume or gain control?

You know, when I first got my stellar pair I found that the single ended cables sounded better than the balanced. And now that you mention it, I didn’t think about that 6db difference…

I’ll try going back to the single ended ones for a day or two and report back here.

My source is either my pc, with JRiver 25, or my old record player, it’s phono amp doesn’t have a gain control, as it is a budget one.

I’d like to ask someone about the J River volume control(or any digital volume control for that matter), and if it involves re clocking of any kind, as I want to leave the digital signal untampered with.

No audible alteration will occur in JRiver as its affecting the volume using 64-bits, plenty of ‘room’ to keep the music unaltered, other than reducing the level of course.

For the phono stage, you could add some in-line attenuators, like 10 or 20dB. RCA connections?

Using a digital volume control in the server program like JRiver is not recommended. You’ll lose bit perfect status. If you do it in the DirectStream DAC (if you have one), that’s not the same thing.

Agreed but it’s better than being way out from a gain perspective with the rest of the chain.

Doesn’t hurt to try. If it sounds worse go back to 100%

Yeah, so I tried my single ended cables and also the J river volume control while in balanced. It’s just not what I want out of spending this much money on an amp.
I’m back to using balanced today, listening to the J river radio with the volume at 3 on the SGCD…

I’d like to ask Paul something. On your ask Paul videos, on the one you said that depending on the volume control, that you’d want it up in the 3 o’clock position when listening. On another one, you said that that only matters on bad or low quality pots etc.
If I’m only listening at about 10 or so on my S300, did I get the wrong amp for me? I will always be using it on a desktop with my monitors on stands within 3-4 feet from me. Don’t get me wrong, but I do enjoy listening to it, very much at times, when I turn it up past 10.

I realise that an answer might be, “well, If you enjoy it, then keep it” but I really don’t want to think that I’m using it in a non ideal situation and that I should’ve gone with a much much less powerful amp that stays in Class A.

PS: Also in a side note, the noise when I put my volume up to and past 75 is quite distracting, even using balanced cables

I have a SGCD and M700 monoblocks, which are reported to run at about the same gain levels as the S300. I think your volume problems are most likely associated with the signals being sent to the SGCD from your source components. I use a digital coax from a Sonos Connect box and an optical cable from a Sony CD player to send digital signals to my SGCD, and I have never had the type of problem you describe. Why don’t you try sending a digital audio signal from a CD player to your SGCD (using either coax or Toslink) and see how the volume performs? Are you sure that you are not sending analog audio signals to your SGCD?

Yeah, I have 3 computers (one with toslink output on the board) 2 cd players, 2 record players, and 3 amps in my condo. My main full sized pc is my main listening rig, as it sounds great and has multiple digital output options, I use the USB output, but have used it’s toslink output from time to time.

My main listening room is a 8 by 12 foot room and I sit close to the speakers, within 4 feet at most distant. My speakers are the Dali Menuet bookshelf speakers( Sensitivity (2,83 V/1 m) 86.0dB
Nominal Impedance 4ohms), but I also have Monitor Audio Silvers in my living room.

So no, I’m feeding it correct digital and analogue signals. I’m guessing that it’s a combination of 4 things:
1 I sit nearfield
2 I listen in a small room
3 I have never liked listening to music loudly, never.
4 Even if I did want to, I live around other people and I’m not going to discomfort them with my music. Maybe because my mother worked night shift and my brother and I learned to be quiet most of the time.

And when I say I never listen loudly I mean, Jazz clubs are too loud and the only time I went into a so called club(as in with dance and hip hop), I had my hands on my ears like an idiot (not to mention, I was dressed like the parents of all the kids dancing around).

The highest volume I listen at could be described as a level high enough, that to have a conversation you’d have to raise your voice at my listening position to understand the other person and vice versa.

I hope that helps.

danny, the info about your system and listening preferences is helpful. My speakers are Thiel 2.2’s, which also have a sensitivity of 86 db and run mostly at 3-4 ohms. My listening room is about 18 x 16, with vaulted ceilings and several large openings to other rooms. I listen about 9 ft from the speakers with the speakers about 7 ft apart. My typical volume levels for moderately loud listening are in the 30-45 range on the SGCD display. For late night listening when I don’t want to wake up the family, I sometimes listen in the 12–15 volume range. Even at low volumes, though, I have been impressed by the clarity and detail I’m getting from the Stellar stack and my sources.

If it’s not too much trouble, could you avoid using your computer at all and just hook up one of your CD players (using either Toslink or digital coax) to the SGCD to see what range of volume levels seems to bring the music alive for you in that configuration? That mini-experiment should give you a better idea whether there is something wrong with your Stellar gear or if you need to dive into your computer source settings further to figure out whether more typical volumes can be obtained by adjusting some of the settings.

If my calculations are correct, my listening room is less than half the size of yours, and I also sit at half the distance. It makes sense that I listen at about half the volume that you do.
My amp isn’t broken, as I also have used my other amps with the SGCD. And they have less gain. I listen near field and would like to keep, and be able to maximize my listening of, my S300. But, according to Paul, unless I get an expensive preamp with an amazing volume control, listening at 10 or so will be degrading my listening experience.

So, to change the S300’s gain settings would be optimal for me.

Really Paul?
When changing volume on the DS, the volume in Jriver also changes and vice versa. Isn’t that a hint that both means the same?

So, I’ll ask my first question again.
Is there any way to change the gain on my S300? No matter the difficulty.

I just watched Paul’s YouTube upload titled " High wattage amps vs. low wattage amps".

It’s got me kinda feeling bad that I might have stressed you out a bit Paul. Sorry for that!
But, it did very much clarifiy that for me.

Annnnd, I do really really love my SGCD and the S300 combo. It was just a matter of being uncertain(aren’t we all, us audiophiles)

I would love to know how a low voltage signal form a preamp gets affected by the travel to the power amp. My own layman intuition tells me that the higher the volume from the pre to the amp, the less the signal is affected!? I am well aware of my not know much in terms of electronics, but I’m really interested in hearing some of you guys give your opinions.

Thanks again


No one?

1 Like

No, you cannot change the gain on the amp input. The volume control is there because everybody’s system, environment and listening preferences are different.

The volume control on your SGCD is the best way to adjust the signal level going to your S300. Most modern preamps are very linear and track well throughout their designated ranges. The days of pots that only work well in a small range are long gone, at least in this price range.

Personally, I think you are worrying way too much about this particular variable in your system.


You can, with an attenuator between the dac out and the power amp in. 2 or 3 resistors per channel and a soldering iron and a couple of connectors if you want to home brew, If you are not happy soldering etc. maybe someone local to you could do it?
They can be bought too, haven’t seen a balanced one for a while but have in the past.
The resistor values can be calculated from the amount of gain reduction and input impedance of the power amp, but these things can be bought.
From your description around 20dB would suit you.
I often used to do it as I too often listen at night and usually quietly.

In general though it shouldn’t be an issue, I’m sure the volume control in the sgcd is nice and even all the way down to zero so it’s not necessary, but is possible if you really felt the need to:)