Better Volume Control

Some DACs support analogue attenuation. What DAC do you have?

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Hi, it’s a SMSL SU-9. It’s digital as far as I know.

The chain is Roon Rock to a IFI Zen streamer to SU-9 DAC via USB to the power amp.

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If you’re using a non Roon Ready solution, see which way allows you to adjust the volume without breaking DSD and MQA integrity.

Thanks. Not sure if Roon certification covers the volume management aspects as well ie that the certification ensures signal integrity when the volume is managed from Roon app…as I would imagine that would be same for all end points (volume being managed from Roon ROCK while DAC/device is in direct out mode). I could be wrong! Thanks

Hi, I am exploring the RooExtend solution for volume control and that’s where I am trying to understand that when doing it via the way you’ve implemented it (at Roon app via say with the MS Dial)…would that be superior or inferior compared to volume control via the preamp/DAC in terms of Sound Quality.


You will need to find that out for your own DAC, the connection method you’re using and your signal path, especially if it is not (network) Roon Ready, which is a different thing from Roon Tested.


I have a Microsoft Surface Dial arriving later today so that I can give rooDial a try. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing magical about how @DrCWO has implemented his solution apart from how it integrates beautifully with Roon. You’ll be using volume control features currently available in the Roon UI, including “Device Volume” (if supported by your DAC) or “DSP Volume”…in your case, I suspect the latter.

The only thing I don’t like about DSP Volume is that level calculations are done on the endpoint. The signal-path does not show this, but the signal is converted back to 64-bits, samples recalculated, and then converted to the bit depth the DAC driver expects, with dithering. This has two minor negative effects: CPU usage can nearly double on the endpoint, and the signal will be dithered twice if any processing is done on Core before sending to the endpoint (eg., volume leveling or format conversion).

The effects are small and probably not audible, but this is irksome to audiophiles who aspire to achieve bit-perfect playback. :wink:


Well, I am an audiophile who likes bit perfect audio for sure. I just tried the DSP volume control on Roon with my SMSL SU-9 DAC and I SW that dreaded green bulb for high quality. If Roodial is the same…Roon will say it’s High Quality (Green) in the signal path…and that I believe is not what I am looking for.

Btw, seems my DAC isn’t a great preamp :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:. Am in the market for a transparent balanced preamp or preamp + DAC that doesn’t suffer from Preamp volume control…

This is how I adjust volume with Roon for the best sound quality to my ears (Your ears may be different). It is NOT convenient. I use this method because I also use the Roon Parametric EQ for my speakers, so I am taking the hit of additional dither and processing already.

I use the Headroom Management instead of the Roon volume control. This is a different process than the Roon volume control and I think its higher quality (again, there is some debate about this). This works for about 75% of my listening. For listening at low volume, I need to add some Roon Volume control. But that listening is really not as critical anyways so I don’t mind it.

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Yes. I was too. I went with the excellent Topping Pre90/Ext90. Performance is beyond reproach. The main chassis is has a single pair of XLR and RCA inputs, and same for outputs. The optional Ext90 adds three more pairs of XLR inputs and another pair of RCAs. I’ve never heard a preamp that’s this transparent.

Good news is that at $600 (+ $250), it won’t break the bank. Here it is with my Gustard X16 DAC:

Decent range on the simple remote control as long as you make some attempt to point it in the right direction. :slight_smile:

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That’s a nice looking stack. I am using a fairly decent DAC SU-9 which mosty has good reviews for it’s Preamp function… curious to know, in your setup…did introducing another component in the signal chain such as this Preamp made any sonic improvements… especially when you say it’s absolutely transparent…which means you are getting the same signal you get from your DACs analog stage? If yes, in what way…I am presuming the soon to arrive MS Dial won’t be able to manage volume on this Topping preamp.

Usually, in the analog domain, a shorter signal path is better, but this preamp seems to drive my Orchard Audio monoblocks much better than the Gustard X16 DAC on its own. I wish I could explain better, but I doubt you will be disappointed with the Pre90.

Actually this is exactly what is required to preserve bit perfect integrity.

With a Roon Ready player with analog outputs such as our product line, bit perfect data is sent via RAAT to the endpoint. If the endpoints supports a bit perfect volume control - in our case that would be ESS DAC chip internal volume, or a proprietary implementation of Leedh Processing Volume for our hardware, bit perfect data is sent to the hardware, then the hardware does the volume.

In some other Roon Ready analog output with preamp products, they may even have an analog volume control mechanism.

Now if you use a digital output from an endpoint, then what usually happens is what you said. That’s one of the many reasons why I always prefer our customers to buy our products with analog outputs, instead of our digital output products, or anything else that runs Roon Bridge.

In many cases, if you apply volume to DSD then send it as digital output to another DAC, that is no longer DSD. Of course one may force the conversion back to DSD using Roon DSP, but I’d not prefer that.

I took measurements regarding Roon DSP volume. It is unquestionable perfect. You can use it without ANY concerns. Please see my whitepaper here:
The final truth about DSP Volume Control in Roon | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum

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@wklie I just purchased a Lumin U2 Mini to use with my Roon Core and my Holo May KTE dac. I’ve got it setup and working with Leedh volume control. I am seeing though that when I play a DSD64 or above that it is converted to PCM384. Is there no way to play DSD without converting to PCM?

My initial listening tests show the superiority of Leedh for PCM material, but I am so far, not liking what is does to DSD files, though I have a lot more burn it time and fiddling to do until I am getting the best out of the Mini.

Not with digital volume control.

To send DSD unconverted, please disable Volume Control in Lumin app.

Please use Roon DSP Engine to convert DSD to PCM 352.8kHz first, then keep both Lumin Volume Control and Leedh Processing Volume on in Lumin app.

Roon automatically converts DSD to PCM 352 when I play DSD with Leedh Volume on, no need to change the sampling rate manually. Do I have this right?

If the Roon signal path shows it’s converting to PCM, then it’s right.

I have DietPi conneted to a DAC3 (no volume control) via USB.
With the Device Setup DSP Volume, the maximum voltage (-0) is 2.1 Volts.
With Device Volume, the 100% is enough the clip the AHB2.

The DietPi Roon endpoint is over a year old. Should I upgrade the firmware?

  • Rich