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Hey Audio Community!
We've hit the magic number, and CEntrance is now offering the variable output mod for free with all orders. If you've already joined the drop and would like to take advantage of the upgrade, the options page has been updated for you to do so.
Make sure you only request the Var out mod if you need it. Consider that you will not be able to use the external receiver's volume knob if you choose the var out mod. DACmini's pot will also control the volume on the external receiver. So it's definitely not for everyone. Also, it takes bloody long to make it (we have to rewire a chunk of the circuitry), so the more people request it, the longer it takes to deliver the goods to you. Not complaining, just giving you the facts. Choose wisely.
I'm not getting why "you will not be able to use the external receiver's volume knob if you choose the var mod." Are you suggesting a situation where one wants to listen to their hps and their stereo at the same time at different volumes? Otherwise, can't you just set the volume at max or whatever is copasetic with the reciever's/preamp's input impedance and then use its' volume control?
Having said the above, it would seem that the signal unimpeded by an attenuator/vari out would sound "better/purer." And if you weren't using powered speakers that would be the way to go. (Hmm, it seems that all the default settings are better for most us anyway unless we need to specifically power HE500 or IEMs or want an analytical sound.)
Yes you would still be able to use the receiver's volume, you would just want to make sure the DACmini output is at a high enough level that the receiver is getting a good strong signal. I've done this with other DAC's that have a variable signal output and just used the receiver or other integrated amp as a "power amp" by leaving their volume static at a moderately high level and using the DAC for adjustments.
I would hope it would not sound "purer" without the VarOut mod. If taking the signal after the volume pot degrades the audio quality, I would question the hardware choice for the volume pot.
Hi CEntrance, I think it's worth clarifying the variable option for people who aren't quite sure with some common examples to avoid people ordering what they don't need? Can you clarify the following please.
1. I have a pair of Beyer Dynamic DT 250, 250 ohm headphones. So high impedance headphones. Would you typically need the variable option to drive those or is standard fine?
2. I have a C&C BH2 Portable Headphone AMP. If I even needed to use it (may not have to if the amplifier does the job in the CEntrance), I'm guessing I would run it in between the CEntrance and the headphones. Are you saying that the volume knob on the amplifier would not respond, effectively being hijacked by the CEntrance? If so, does it set the external amp to a volume at a specific level?
Thanks guys and I hope this is useful to others.
You got it right. Listening to headphones will have you turn the DACmini volume knob to one setting. Listening to the external receiver /speakers would force you to change the volume knob on DACmini to another setting. Some people would think that this is inconvenient -- they would prefer to leave the volume knob untouched, since it logically applies to headphones only. This is why we made the fixed output standard -- logically, you should be using DACmini volume knob for headphones and external receiver's (powered speakers') volume knob for the external sound.
I agree that all default settings are better for most usage scenarios. We designed the product with the help from the head-fi community and came to the conclusion that these settings would fit most users.
Every component degrades the sound quality slightly, even the world's best pot. We are using the most expensive pot from ALPS, which absolutely feels like butter. Honestly, I don't hear any difference in sound quality before and after the pot. However, from the purist engineering standpoint, every extra component adds a little bit. even if it's .00000001%. LOL
1) Very good question. If using headphones plugged into the front of the DACmini, you don't need the RCA outputs at all. Leave the RCA outputs at the standard "fixed" setting. No need to change the stock configuration!
2) You really DON"T need to use an amp between the DACmini and your headphones. That defeats the purpose of this box, DACmini is a mighty fine headphone amp, much better than a lot of others out there. DACmini got on the cover of Stereophile magazine, so it must be THAT good! Don't worry about an external amp, really ;)