Keep the PWD's volume above 50

I was listening once again with the PWD direct on the poweramp. And liked the clarity and the very transparant sound very much, but after a while. An hour or so I started to miss my preamp again. So I connected the preamp again and bypassed the preamp’s volume control so I still could proffit the PWD volume control. After an hour this started to annoy also. I probably am a too critical listener, but there’s realy something wrong with the sound. So I switched back to the volume control of my preamp and noticed that the problem disappeared with the PWD’s volume between 50 and 100. Believe me this isn’t because of the knowledge of losing bits below 50.

I tried everything in the passed two or three years over and over again and never could put a finger on the problem.

My library is Alac and I didn’t liked alac in the passed, but when I started to use a preamp I like alac as much as I like a wave library.

The PWD’s volume control seems to be the problem. In the passed I alway’s used a wave library without transcoding, becease nothing else could be enjoyed with the PWD’s volume control.

So we need a 64 bit volume control starting from 24 bit and up. 24 bit wil be the new 0 :-?

My guess is that you’;re causing something else to change - and using the preamp as a sort of filter. I don’t think it has anything to do with the way the volume control is changing things - but that’s just my guess.

Well at first I thought about that too. But when by-passing the preamps volume control the preamp is still in the chain. When using the PWD’s volume somewhere between 10 and 25 (25 is pretty loud above 85db on the listening position) the sound with alac is very strong in low frequencies thin in the middle and very nice in the hights. With wave the lows are less strong than with alac the middle is good and the hights are oke. With wave the balance of lows midds and hights are better than with alac.

When using the preamps volume (PWD at least above 50) than the music with alac files becomes in a nice balance too. This balance with alac is enjoyable for months probably years without searching for anything thats wrong.

I also tried too keep the PWD volume at 40 so I was using both volume controls for a while, but after a few day’s I needed to change something. There was something wrong with the balance in lows midds and hights, but not as big as described above.

So the only filter in the chain could be the preamps volume control, but only when I use it for the biggest part.

By the way I wish I could use the PWD’s volume control because of the clarity and transparency.

But I didn’t find out how to enjoy for longer periods.

Hmmm. Ok, gottcha. Well, I would then look towards cabling and power. I assume you’re using a Power Plant on the PWD, so what do you have for interconnects between the PWD and amp?

I have to admit I do not own very much PS audio aquipment. My dealer is not a PS audio dealer. I just ordered the PWD blind in 2010. So I just own the PWD and bridge. Last summer I went to a PS audio dealer in Utrecht you know that one. I was going to buy a P5, but they told me the P5 was a no go :-?

Go for a preamp was their advice, so I did.

After a month I went to my own dealer to ask a P5 on trial. They contacted the importer and he called me back and told me that he had only one peace for trial and that one was already somewhere. When it comes available he would send it to me. Probably it’s still not available.

So my current powerfilters are from Kemp elektroniks every peace has it’s own powerblock.

My powercords are also Kemp elektroniks reference, but I bought three Oyaide Tunami GPX-R powercords last winter. The Oyaides are on the PWD and on the Preamp they sounds best with the Oyaides. The power amp sounds best with the Kemp.

I use three separate screened powerlines from the fusebox with three separate powerfuses. The PWD is on the same poweline as the preamp. But as I discribed they both got it’s own powerblock and oyaide.

The interconnects I use are the Kimber KS1136 XLR between Pre- and poweramp. But I also used this one on the PWD and poweramp. I used a Kimber KS1130 XLR for half a year between the PWD and preamp. I replaced the KS1130 for an Audioquest Sky XLR which I like better. And bought a second Audioquest sky to try between pre and poweramp, but I liked the Kimber KS1136 better. Last week I bought a second hand Varistarr grand illusion signature XLR. I only tried it for an hour so far nothing very different.

I’m still curious about the P3 or P5 to replace a few powerblocks. And thought about a dectet for just the PWD.

I am very happy with My P5. Work extremely well

I use a Leben Preamp (make a bigger and larger sound!)

Well I tried some things today but still the pre-amp is the winner. Without the pre-amp the normal volume on the PWD is somewhere around 16 to 25 and thats when I’m alone. When my girlfriend is home the sound is around 6, 10 at the most. When we eat we only need some background music the volume of the PWD is reduced to 2 or maybe 3.

The PWD has some +++ and the pre-amp has some +++++

PWD +'s are clarity and transparancy

Pre-amp +'s are soundstage, balance in low’s mid’s and hight’s, dynamics on low volume, rest

I know I’m a little opinionated and were wrong in other cases, but again I’m positive, I think!

So I can’t use the PWD’s volume for high end listening

Hmm listening on such low level can really have impact as you describe.

I’m listening on levels around 30-40 in ideal conditions, but night listening is somewhere around 10-25 and i find the dynamics restricted, so what you describe on levels under 10 I find quite understandable. I would also welcome convenient solution for quiet listening without (ideally any) SQ loss…

i may be in the minority but i still prefer the sound of my rig with a well matched pre-amp. “well matched” was the obvious key for me. tried 4 other pre-amps that didn’t make the cut. just tried the direct rout again a few months ago (for the 5th or 6th time over 3 years) and once again…the pre-amp sounded better to me. i play everything with the PWD volume set at 100…my Pass X-1 ain’t going nowhere =)

Matching amp to speakers is very important, but PWD is very unique DAC, and in this case it’s very important to match the amp (both GAIN and SONIC) to PWD prior to speakers …

Where the volume level drops below 50 (or 40 in quiet night listening), it requires using a preamp or POWER with lower GAIN.

IMHO of course …


I’ve tried several preamps with the PWD: Pass Labs XP 20, ARC Ref 3, Gryphon Sonata, Coda CP,

Acoustat TNP and of course the PWD II sans preamp. The verdict: while I admit the PWD II does have a certain clarity and that if my preamp was broken or if I was just starting to put together a high end system and on a budget, I could easily live with the PWD II without a preamp.

But, in every case above, using the PWD II with a preamp (volume on PWD II set to 100%) always beat the PWD II without a preamp.

There is just more.

More everything.

More blackness around instruments. More soundstage. More controlled bass. More imaging, depth, and timbre. More dynamics and transients. More piano to forte. More of everything that makes the musical experience come to life.

Steven B-)

I’ve gone through similar processes as mentioned here, and have also concluded that for serious listening, I get the best sound with the PWD at 100%. Even for background, I try to keep the PWD above 60%. I’ve found that all volume controls (analog or digital) exhibit a pinching of dynamics when set below analog 8 o’clock (digital 25%).

Just my 2 cents :slight_smile:

Here is a 1/2 hr talk about the differences between analog and digital volume controls, and jitter.

Yes this is presented by a guy from ESS not wolfson but the principles are the same.


So if I understand what this guy is telling. Keep the digital volume at 16bit or higher. What means keep the volume above 50 :smiley:

For what the pre-amp concerns. I cleaned all the contacts of all the in and outputs of the PWD and pre- and poweramp and all my cables with care. The result is stunning!

wijnand said: I cleaned all the contacts of all the in and outputs of the PWD and pre- and poweramp and all my cables with care. The result is stunning!

It is amazing the difference cleaning can make.


What I found interesting is on 16 bit internal Dac’s the noise floor didn’t move, but the peak amplitude dropped down closer to it. Which effectively makes the noise floor move up (or put another way) reduces the dynamic range difference between the music peaks and the noise floor underneath.

And on 32 bit internal Dacs, like the wolfson DAC used in the PWD, etc. the noise floor is reduced until the ‘extra’ 16 bits are used up. This happens when the volume control is close to zero (say ≈ 5-20%). Which is why the advice to keep the volume control at 50% (or better) is pertinent.

For myself I rarely drop the PWD’s volume control less than ≈ 80%. But then I have a volume control on my headphone amp.

One of the best cleaning and conditioning chemicals I’ve found is Caig Labs G series conditioners

DeoxIT® Gold G-Series

I like the wipes and the spray pump.

Good stuff.


So if I understand what this guy is telling. Keep the digital volume at 16bit or higher. What means keep the volume above 50 :smiley:

For what the pre-amp concerns. I cleaned all the contacts of all the in and outputs of the PWD and pre- and poweramp and all my cables with care. The result is stunning!

So we need a 64 bit volume control starting from 24 bit and up. 24 bit wil be the new 0 :-?

What about this? I think this is what we need from a digital volume to beat the analog!
One of the best cleaning and conditioning chemicals I've found is Caig Labs G series conditioners
I like the wipes and the spray pump.
Good stuff.


I have the little one with the brush. The brush fits nicely in the XLR buscontacts! I use a peace of toiletpaper to dry out.

One common problem I am struggling with at my place is that when using spade lugs the speaker cables loosen from their binding posts after some time. I guess it has to do with torsional forces and vibrations from the enclosure itself. Possibly metal under pressure also influence (like a wire with solder on put under pressure by a screw?). Anyway, I am quite shocked how loose they become so quicly, even on the amp side. I guess this also deserves someones attention for maintenance in the same manner as cleaning does.