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Significance of Digital Volume Control in the Soundaware DAM1

Although the digital volume control function was not initially considered during the design of DAM1, and the first batch of products that were officially shipped did not include this function, we have carefully listened to the feedback from our valued customers. In response to their voices, we have made the decision to develop and incorporate a 32-bit high-precision volume control function.

As we all know, the key distinction between digital volume control and analog volume control lies in their respective attenuation of music and noise. Digital volume control solely attenuates the sound of music, whereas analog volume control attenuates both music and noise, offering unique advantages in various aspects. However, it is worth noting that not all digital volume implementations are of equal quality, and some may not match the performance of mid-to-high-end analog volume controls. In fact, the primary reasons for this discrepancy are as follows:

  1. The precision of attenuation in digital volume is insufficient, lacking linearity, and even fails to achieve the precision of 16-bit floating point.

  2. The analog output current of digital volume control is inadequate, resulting in a significantly weakened music signal and a greatly diminished effective driving force after attenuation.

  3. The digital volume control functionality in Streamers or DACs is often an auxiliary feature. These devices have relatively high noise floors, leading to increased distortion and poor performance indicators for digital volume control at low volume levels.

Due to these reasons, digital volume preamps are often perceived as low-cost, simplistic, and unimpressive methods of volume control.

Then, what I would like to discuss here is DAM1's digital volume preamp, which embodies a digital volume control that goes beyond common expectations:

  1. It features a 32-bit precision global high-precision linear volume attenuation control, offering both high precision and linearity.

  2. DAM1 is designed with a high current output and low internal resistance. The internal resistance is as low as 100 ohms (100 ohms only for short circuit protection string). The current is ample to drive earphones, surpassing the preamp of the Soundaware P1 tenth anniversary.

  3. DAM1 boasts a low noise level of ~800nv, which is lower than the noise floor of almost all industry rear-end power amplifiers, earphone amplifiers, and active speakers.

Based on these three points, DAM1 achieves an incredibly ultra-low background noise, preamp-like driving force, and ultra-high-precision linear music attenuation, delivering the same effect as reference analogue attenuation while maintaining a completely colour-free tone. Therefore, when I connect active speakers and adjust the volume, the amount of information hardly changes, whether increasing or decreasing the volume.

But there is one important thing to pay special attention to. Before directly connecting DAM1 to an active speaker, make sure to activate the volume control function. It is advisable to keep the volume at <-30dB or below to prevent excessive volume that could potentially damage your rear-end system.

Furthermore, please note that the volume control function was not initially included in DAM1's design, and it also lacks a physical volume knob. As a result, it can only serve as a supplementary auxiliary function. The sensitivity of DAM1's original remote control will increase after a firmware upgrade. However, when using it from a relatively long distance, the volume may not be clearly visible, and the remote control's sensitivity may decrease. In such situations, you have the option to purchase a dual-tube learning remote control instead of the original single-tube remote control. This will enhance sensitivity and improve the overall user experience.

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