Direct stream to bhk preamp

Hi…any ideas of vol output setting of streamer to bhk preamp?

The BHK preamp sounds best once you get it volume over the relay click at 53. So adjust your source to realize above that output volume on your BHK Pre. On my DSD I set it to 28-40 depending on the source material.

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I’m pleasantly surprised how great the bhk preamp sounds with the dsd streamer…I used to have it direct to bhk monoblocks, which sounded great, and now the preamp has taken away any harshness of the digital sound.

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I was there with DSD>BHK 300’s and I bought the BHK Pre it more than makes a contribution.

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Congrats! The DSD->BHK pre->BHK monos is one incredible setup!

Ted and PS staff have confirmed that:

  • Increasing the DSD (DAC) volume does (not) increase signal-to-noise ratio.
  • Increasing the volume of the BHK pre (does) increase signal-to-noise ration.

Therefore, in order to achieve the lowest S/N (which is a good thing) . . . . . . Turn the DSD up (many set it at 100) and keep the BHK pre volume as low as possible in order to set your preferred volume level.

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I think you have the DS and Pre gain settings backwards for optimal S/N and sound. The pre is quietest and in my opinion sounds best at 53+ and the DS at something other than 100. I use the DS volume control and leave the pre fixed at 53 most of the time. Sometimes I need more gain than 100 on the DS and bump up the pre to get it.

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Hi @brett66
I have been learning from your posts, and I truly appreciate your knowledge and modesty. Thank you. From memory, in a discussion addressing Lumin’s volume control technology, Ted said that most DS DAC users reported lowest distortion at volume settings from 88 to 94 (or he said 92?). I have tried them all and settled for 92. What are your thoughts?

Hi @Serhan, I’ve learned so much over the years from this forum, thank you, I try to share in a helpful way.

I prefer the preamp at 53 and use the DS vol to change gain. The noise from the BHK/tubes is greater than the noise from the DS in my system. I also use headroom/volume leveling (approx. -10dB) in Roon to avoid inter sample overs as I use convolution. I prefer the finer resolution in vol steps provided by the DS vs. the BHK as well.

I have tried the DS at 90+ and change vol on the BHK but this puts the BHK at 15-35 for normal listening and I simply prefer the way the system sounds with the BHK higher up in it’s range. I think the tubes may have more influence. I’m not sure but I simply like it more.

My path is Roon only as front end passing through Foobar for VST plugin support (HAF Room Shaper plugin only) then to HQPe to the DS. I usually don’t upsample as I don’t think it adds much with the DS.

Partially its because of my IS2 board is limited to PCM192. I have a new DAC on the way and will likely use USB or USB-IS2 via Matrix…anyway I digress.

The point is each of our systems have difference gain structures and we each need to experiment to find the best for our preferences/speakers/systems.


The sound of the BHK preamp does seem to improve significantly with the last gain click at 53. But at the same tome, I like the DSD at just less than 100, 92 is good.

I continue to be torn as to what ultimately sounds best and continually experiment.


I wish there were multiple attenuator options in the DS to better match. I believe the mkII and/or TSS will have…


Yes, this would be nice.

FWIW, I have settled on about 95 on the DS and fiddle (as little as possible) with my Pre/Pro volume setting as necessary.

I think, as we like to say, “everything matters”; and optimum settings are system and pre/amp dependent.

A good summary. I have settled on keeping the DAC at 90, and adjusting the BHK as required, simply by ear.

I keep coming back to DSD at 85…

Paul McGowan’s suggestion worked well for me.

These settings also depend on the sensitivity/efficiency of the speakers, how large the space and how loud or not you want it.


Please clarify how sensitivity/efficiency of the speakers affect the discussed settings. My speakers have pretty inefficient 88dB into 4 ohms impedance. Thanks.