Chord DAC output

In the past I’ve have had a Chord 2qute and thinking of re-purchasing one again. What I disliked previously was the 3v output not giving enough volume range on my amp.
Yesterday messing around with roon DSP settings, I noticed the output can be altered or reduced.
Looking for advice on what’s the correct setting to adjust? Also does this have any impact on sound quality?

Thanks in advance.

The Headroom tool in the DSP Engine will apply a global volume reduction. It’s primary use is to avoid limiting when upsampling or convolving, but it can be used to enable a greater range of volume with your analog volume control. Because it alters the signal it’s not bit perfect and you’ll see the white star rather than the purple light in the Signal Path. But Roon applies it’s DSP features in 64 bits meaning it is a high quality solution that preserves relative dynamic range.

I use 7 dB of Headroom (in either HQP or Roon, depending which is doing the DSP). I can’t hear any deterioration in SQ.

Start off with 3 dB and see if that helps, I doubt that you’ll need more than 10.

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Agree that Chord are overly ambitious when it comes to output levels, for all their DACs that i have tried anyway.
I’d recommend using a signal damper, say one of these:
They work very well in an all analog setup but i suppose you use headroom adjustment and DSP for this too.

Thanks Andrew

Adding my $0.01 worth, I use those exact same Rothwell attenuators with my Chord 2Qute. Tames the hot output of the DAC perfectly.

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Since my post, Brian has explained DSP volume adjustment and SQ in greater detail.

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Do you plug the attenuators at the DAC end or amp input?


Plug attenuators into the amp inputs – so that any noise picked up on the cable runs also gets attenuated.



couldn’t figure out where are the massive distortion was coming from, feeding my Soundstick speakers in the study via my Mojo. I finally realised that I needed to apply -3db of gain in the headroom setting to prevent the Mojo from overloading the input on the speakers.

I’m about to purchase rothwell attenuators and noticed there is -10db, -15db -20db. What’s recommended to get close to outputting at 2v?


Is the output 3 V? Do the math. A -6 dB attenuation will reduce that to 1.5 V, etc.


Does using the headroom feature in the DSP settings and setting say -6db gain actually reduce the output voltage of the 2qute DAC? Or is an in-line attenuator the best way to tame it for my preamps max 2v input?

I have only just picked up its distortion with new speakers, is there any chance the DACs 3v output has damaged the preamp?

I seriously doubt any harm can be done, as most preamps have lots of headroom on the signal inputs.
It is a slight problem though, as you also have noticed, the unnecessarily high output levels from many DAC (and other line level sources). I set my Chord Products to “blue” output level for a reasonable output.
My preamp can handle the full signal but theres not much leeway in adjusting low level volume…

From my understanding, it’s not a set voltage. I might be wrong, but I think with no sound playing, it wouldn’t be outputting any voltage at all, and at its peak would be 3v. So using DSP would effect the max output, and thus the voltage in turn. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, lol.

Do you think that this is an issue if you have the Etudes. My understanding (from my installed) is that the Etudes, and the transport are doing all the signal conversion and management.