I have read several accounts where people say that the DSD Volume cntrl degrades the sound

I am trying to decide if I notice this too. It’s difficult because my preamp doesn’t have remote volume, so it’s difficult to level match to do a comparison. At this point, I think I prefer the DSD at 100%. On another forum, the statements are in agreement with my findings. I thought that the DSD volume control did not reduce the signal resolution, but are we hearing something else? Is it signal to noise ratio or what?

The DSD volume control can never be turned off or disabled, and its operation is mathematically linear, so… :man_shrugging:

Reducing the volume in the DAC does take the signal closer to the DAC’s own noise floor, and the DAC’s noise floor does extend into the ultrasonic. Depending on the other components in the system, that might lead to a better result leaving the digital volume at 100 and letting a pre-amp do attenuation of the DAC’s entire output.


Maybe they were referring to odd noises (pops, cracks, etc) can be heard in some systems, depending on the gain structure, and other things, that are evident with DSD vol = 100, or more than 95-ish. It is system dependent and has been discussed widely in the forum. There is something in the software that causes this. The fix is to turn down the DSD volume, and turn up the volume of your analog pre-amp to compensate. You don’t lose resolution by turning down the DSD digital volume. Lots of info about this posted elsewhere.

1 Like

I believe you are referring to the Redcloud bug. It was fixed in Snowmass.
Still I think that people should not be too dogmatic, they should just find the mixture of the DAC’s volume control and their preamp’s volume control that they like best, for whatever reason: sound quality, convenience of the remote in question or whatever.


I think I need to unearth this topic. I use a BHK Preamp and a pair of BHK300 monoblocks. For around a year, the volume of my DS has always remained at 100. Master volume is on my preamp, which is at 33 most of the time.

A couple of days ago, I tried lowering the volume on the DS to 85, then raising the volume on my preamp to around 42. Somehow, it sounded better. Less “shouty” on poor recordings. Less “in your face.” I raised the volume on my DS back to 100 and lowered my BHK Preamp back to 33 and the shout returned.

I wonder, what gives?

I noticed that many preferred the lower volume with Snowmass, but max volume with Windom. I keep mine at 100, but in the Snowmass days I did find that the sound was a bit smoother, if less dynamic, at 85-90. I was also using the BHK Pre and 250. I’m only using an LTA headphone amp now, but I did find the preamp had several specific sweet spots where the tone was best and noise floor was the lowest and it made sense to adjust the DAC volume around those.

I think you’re right. The DS Sr can be switched from high volume to low. If I have it set at high, I can hear a hissing sound when I put my ear next to the tweeter of my loudspeaker. There is less hiss at the low setting. But once I return to my seat, I cannot hear it anymore. I can confirm the hiss is from the DS because if I switch my BHK Preamp to an unused input, I hear nothing with my ear at the tweeter. I do like the sound better at the DS Sr’s high setting. It’s as if the music has more authority. But in my system. lowering the DS volume to 85 and then compensating by raising the volume on the BHK Preamp sounds really good. I just don’t know why.

If there is a difference it’s too small for me to notice in my system (DS Sr., Lamm LL2.1, VTL ST-85, DeVore Fidelity O/96). If it took some effort to hear a difference, I would not give up the convenience of a remote volume control (Lamm does not have that). Give me convenience or give me death.

1 Like

What gives is basic gain staging. It is not brain surgery, as Ted mentions a year ago above your post. Just twist the knobs until you find your preamp’s Happy Place. And don’t be afraid to twist them while you are listening to different sources or different music. That’s why God (or Ted) made Volume Controls - which we used to not have on DACs :pray:t2:


While the volume on the DS Sr. is really good, I find that adding a high quality preamp can improve the sound enormously. I have tried various preamps and they all change the sound depending on their quality. If you use a mediocre preamp, it will veil the sound, but a reference preamp will really surprise you on the improvement it can make. The last preamp was a tubed Bruce Moore that filled out the sound and added more detail to the DS. Now I’m using the Esoteric C-02 which completely brings the music to live. An enormous improvement. I don’t know why that is, only that is what I hear.

1 Like

I adjust and “ride” the gain between two preamps and an eq component, all excellent in quality in my opinion. (Decware ZTPRE preamp with remote, Decware CSP3 with 25th Anniversary mods preamp/neadphone amp, and Decware ZROCK2). As I am doing that I generally leave the DSD volume at 100 percent with Windom. I experimented with the DSD volume using Snowmass but I find it best at 100 with Windom, my preferred OS.