Adding volume control between phono pre and speakers? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 17 Old 12-03-2014, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Adding volume control between phono pre and speakers?

Hello.

Was wondering if I could get some advice on how to best add a volume control to my set up.

What I have is a turntable running through a NAD phono preamp into a pair of powered studio monitors, so I have all pre and power amplification covered, but the only way for me to adjust the volume is to adjust the input sensitivity on the back of each speaker. It'd be great to have an individual knob or fader that I could easily adjust the volume with without losing any sound quality. How could I best achieve this?
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post #2 of 17 Old 12-03-2014, 07:13 PM
 
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Use a stereo 25kOhm audio taper pot. It's probably best to put it in a case with RCA jacks for inputs and outputs.
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post #3 of 17 Old 12-03-2014, 07:33 PM
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post #4 of 17 Old 12-04-2014, 01:28 AM
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Your turntable is your sound system's exclusive source? Why not buy a combo device which gives you an input selector to switch between various source devices plus it has a master volume knob, i.e. a preamp?


Since I don't always sit perfectly centered between my two stereo speakers, my room isn't bilaterally symmetrical, and even the source material itself is often unbalanced, I like ones with a third feature: a balance control.

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".

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post #5 of 17 Old 12-04-2014, 03:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayDunzl View Post
Excellent suggestion.

Another would be the purchase of a second hand integrated amp that has pre out/power amp in sockets on the rear and just use the preamp section. This adds some input selection options as suggested by M Zillch.
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post #6 of 17 Old 12-04-2014, 10:31 AM
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Agreed, integrated amps (with preouts/main ins), or the more common variety here in the US with built-in tuners called receivers, are often the least expensive ways to buy all sorts of needed devices, even if you don't need the rest:

-input selectors
-remote control volume controls
-balance controls
-video switchers
-preamps
-phono preamps
-tuners
-mono power amps
-stereo power amps
-multi channel power amps

I recently needed a five channel power amp so I monitored my local thrift shop, which has a continual incoming inventory of used receivers, and scored a 100 w/ch Denon, about ten years old, for only $25! The multi channel input jacks, ostensibly used for adding an SACD player or other device with 5 channels is used as the input. Works great!

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".
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post #7 of 17 Old 12-04-2014, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Agreed, integrated amps (with preouts/main ins), or the more common variety here in the US with built-in tuners called receivers, are often the least expensive ways to buy all sorts of needed devices, even if you don't need the rest:

-input selectors
-remote control volume controls
-balance controls
-video switchers
-preamps
-phono preamps
-tuners
-mono power amps
-stereo power amps
-multi channel power amps

I recently needed a five channel power amp so I monitored my local thrift shop, which has a continual incoming inventory of used receivers, and scored a 100 w/ch Denon, about ten years old, for only $25! The multi channel input jacks, ostensibly used for adding an SACD player or other device with 5 channels is used as the input. Works great!
Thanks for the suggestions! Remote controlled volume would be a fantastic addition as well. So an integrated amp with a pre out would allow me to bypass the amps built in pre's and leave the preamplification solely to the NAD?

Thanks again for the help.
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post #8 of 17 Old 12-04-2014, 11:58 AM
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There two kinds of "preamps", phono and regular.


The very low voltage coming out of record player cartridges is so tiny it needs to go through an initial boost, or preamplification, via a "phono preamp" such as your NAD unit as an intermediate step between the phonograph and the new master preamp [the receiver/int. amp with preout jacks we are suggesting], in order to bring it up to the standard, roughly 2V level of all the other devices such as CD players, video devices, tape decks, etc. [There also is some tonal changing going on in this stage, or EQ, but we need not worry about that for now.]


Some receivers and integrated amps have a special, dedicated input labeled "phono" which incorporates one of these phono preamps internally, otherwise continuing to use your NAD outboard phono preamp into a more typical input ["CD", "AUX", etc.] on the new receiver/int. amp makes sense. The receiver (or integrated amp) will then be your master volume knob, be it from the front panel or the remote, for whatever device you have selected via its input control, and will then send that preamplified signal, at the volume you like, out the "preamp out jacks" on the back panel off to the inputs of your self amplified speakers. You will then leave the volume knobs of the powered speakers alone and will instead make all controls and volume decisions from the newly added receiver (or int. amp) which is acting as the master preamp.


It may seem odd to buy such units [receivers or integrated amps with this "preout" feature] knowing you are going to completely bypass their internal power amp stages to instead use the ones in your powered speakers, but trust me, this is the most economical way to do it since stand alone, dedicated preamps without any internal amps you don't need, oddly cost MORE! [It's a supply vs demand thang. Zillions of people need receivers, very few need stand alone, dedicated preamps.]

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".

Last edited by m. zillch; 12-04-2014 at 12:19 PM.
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post #9 of 17 Old 12-04-2014, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
The very low voltage coming out of record player cartridges is so tiny it needs to go through an initial boost, or preamplification, via a "phono preamp" such as your NAD unit, in order to bring it up to the standard, roughly 2V level of all the other devices such as CD players, video devices, tape decks, etc.


Some receivers and integrated amps have a special, dedicated input labeled "phono" which incorporates one of these phono preamps internally, otherwise continuing to use your NAD outboard phono preamp into a more typical input ["CD", "AUX", etc.] makes sense. The receiver (or integrated amp) will then be your master volume knob, be it from the front panel or the remote, for whatever device you have selected, and will then send that preamplified signal, at the volume you like, out the "preamp out jacks" on the back panel off to the inputs of your self amplified speakers. You will then leave the volume knobs of the powered speakers alone and will instead make all controls and volume decisions from the receiver (or int. amp) which is acting as the master preamp.


It may seem odd to buy such units [receivers or integrated amps with this "preout" feature] knowing you are going to completely bypass their internal power amp stages to instead use the ones in your powered speakers, but trust me, this is the most economical way to do it since stand alone, dedicated preamps without any internal amps you don't need, oddly cost MORE!
+1 to all. the phono cartridge output also absolutely must have the RIAA EQ curve applied to it, or it'll sound really wimpy (that's part of what the phono input does). The whole RIAA thing is basically about being able to get more than 5 minutes on a side of a record by reducing the bass (not to mention making it possible for merely mortal cartridges and tonearms to actually track the bass). easily googled, if of interest.
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post #10 of 17 Old 12-06-2014, 04:34 AM
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Quote:
how to best add a volume control
If all you want is a simple pot or volume control here is a sorted list of the most popular products available worldwide.

http://www.thomann.de/gb/cat.html?gf...rollers&oa=pra

So that is your immediate problem solved for as little as $30.

On the other hand, if you are looking to the future and have a little money to invest I would like to point you in the direction of an audio interface.

An audio interface is almost always the answer to any question related to active monitors. Active studio monitors and audio interfaces evolved together in the 1990s in response to the then new popularity of digital audio and the use of DAW (digital audio workstation) software in home or project studios. They are designed to complement one another perfectly. Initially this gear was very expensive and meant for professional use (think Genelec and RME) but there are now a whole host of well priced and versatile products suitable for domestic use.

So for as little as $50 more than a basic volume control you will get a whole host of additional features which you will almost certainly find very useful in the future. Such as:- A fully fledged monitor controller, DI box (for conversion between bal and unbal and isolation from earth loops), A headphone amp with separate volume control. The ability to connect virtually any new source - PC, tablet, phone, CD player, microphone, instrument, wireless receiver, games console anything at all, The ability to connect multiple outputs - separate zones or surrounds/subs, be able to cue and prelisten, monitor, meter and analyse inputs and outputs, apply EQ and Effect to any and all inputs and outputs. I could go on but I hope you get the general picture.

Of course you can do some of the above with an AVR or receiver as well but in a much bigger and ugly box and since you have already started down the road of active monitors the interface makes much more sense.

If you are interested here is a selection of what's currently on offer.

http://www.thomann.de/gb/search.html...ast=500&oa=pra

That's a pretty daunting list so I will mention the companies and products that are currently most often recomended.

At the entry level : Focusrite Scarlet range. Native Instruments Audio 2 and Audio 6, Steinberg UR range, Roland and the less expensive MOTU products .

Top of the range units are the RME Babyface, SPL Crimson, Audient ID22 and MOTU Ultralite.

Take a look.
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post #11 of 17 Old 12-06-2014, 10:24 AM
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On the other hand, if you are looking to the future and have a little money to invest I would like to point you in the direction of an audio interface.
The word "interface" means with a computer. I'll bet you this person is NOT using a computer in this setup. Canid?

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".

Last edited by m. zillch; 12-06-2014 at 10:36 AM.
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post #12 of 17 Old 12-06-2014, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
The word "interface" means with a computer. I'll bet you this person is NOT using a computer in this setup.
That's one definition.

Probably not what they had in mind in 1885 when it first popped up.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/interface

I'll be back later...


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post #13 of 17 Old 12-06-2014, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by RayDunzl View Post
That's one definition.
And it's the one meant when discussing DAWs:


"An audio interface changes analog audio into digital, so your computer can use it."-

source: http://www.sweetwater.com/feature/daw/

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".
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post #14 of 17 Old 12-06-2014, 12:25 PM
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They interface between themselves and your computer for sure. They also interface between everything else too. They are interfaces.

Most of them are mixers. So they will function stand alone provided you don't want to feed them from a computer at that time. You do need to get a model with it's own power supply or get USB power to them. I have an entry level M-Audio Fast Track Pro, a mid range MOTU Ultralite and a top of the range SPL Crimson. They all work whether plugged into a PC or in stand alone mode no problem. My portable NI Audio 2 doesn't and must be connected to a computer but that's to be expected as it has no inputs, only outputs. You can connect it to a tablet though which is handy.

Anyway who hasn't got a computer or at least a tablet? That's the whole point. Why spend ~$ 80+ on a simple volume control and suitable cables when for very little more the OP could extend his choice of source way beyond vinyl. No need to mess about behind the furniture to plug anything in or out either. Control your entire playback system from the couch too with a bit of ingenuity.

It's the future man.
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post #15 of 17 Old 12-06-2014, 01:09 PM
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For years I used my little home made passive control for the volume controlling interface between my CD player and Amp





That's a wooden coaster of some sort, with some hardware to hang a curtain rod, with a pair of 10k pots, and knobs off of something I can't even remember right now.

Volume and balance, right there. Cost? $2 and some scraps laying around.

I do have a computer, but no tablet or even a smartphone, even now.

---

Oh, looky here, I must have upgraded the knobs at some point. I don't think they cost as much back then, though.

https://www.radioshack.com/silver-to...4.html#start=2

---

And the passive device is still in use, between a DVD player and the same amp, an old Acurus A-250, now the third system in the house...

I'll be back later...


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post #16 of 17 Old 12-06-2014, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by LeightonBeck View Post
Of course you can do some of the above with an AVR or receiver as well but in a much bigger and ugly box and since you have already started down the road of active monitors the interface makes much more sense.
Because his amplification used to listen to LPs is internal to his stereo speakers, instead of an outboard product, it makes more sense for him to buy a computer interface instead of just a passive volume knob or a preamp? I disagree.

Quote:
Control your entire playback system from the couch too with a bit of ingenuity.
Since you are the expert offering advice, why don't you explain to him what the additional devices are he would need, exactly, to add a handheld, wireless remote control (which we've already established he finds desirable in post 7, before yours):
Quote:
Originally Posted by Canid View Post
Remote controlled volume would be a fantastic addition as well.
if going your "just add a computer interface" route and the total additional cost on top of said interface.

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".

Last edited by m. zillch; 12-06-2014 at 02:57 PM.
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post #17 of 17 Old 12-06-2014, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Canid View Post
Was wondering if I could get some advice on how to best add a volume control to my set up.

What I have is a turntable running through a NAD phono preamp into a pair of powered studio monitors, so I have all pre and power amplification covered, but the only way for me to adjust the volume is to adjust the input sensitivity on the back of each speaker. It'd be great to have an individual knob or fader that I could easily adjust the volume with without losing any sound quality. How could I best achieve this?

You meant you want to build something yourself from parts, using a soldering gun, etc., rather than buying something, right? [sarcasm]

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".

Last edited by m. zillch; 12-06-2014 at 02:31 PM.
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