Chord Dave volume setting with NAC552

I tried both settings of the Chord Dave, the DAC mode and Digital Preamp mode as a source with my NAC552 preamp.

With the Chord Dave set in DAC mode I found the NAC552 volume control range to be way too limited in range (I can barely move it between 7-8 O’clock without seriously high-volume levels)

I then switched the Dave to Digital Preamp mode and based on my understanding that Chord Dave digital volume control implementation would not result in loss of resolution I had the Chord Dave volume set at -12dB… This gave me as close as possible to the 2.5v standard output level of other sources into the NAC.

With that setting, I had better range of volume control motion with the NAC (anything between 7-11 O’clock would usually be ok)

I then heard in one of the PS Audio videos that allowing your preamp as much headroom as possible would be better from a performance/sound quality perspective. So, I tried setting the Chord Dave to around -24dB, this gave me a much more workable range of volume control movement with the NAC (easily reaching 1-2 O’clock without it being too loud.

I am not an expert on this topic, if you ask me, I would rather eliminate circuitry between the source and NAC552, and for that reason I would have preferred to set the Chord Dave in DAC only mode, totally bypassing its digital volume control and giving the NAC552 full control, but this is so loud and so limiting in volume control range that it is not enjoyable…

Keen to hear thoughts of others on this forum that may have experience to share on this topic?

When I had a Naim preamp I always found that dialling down the volume , on Mk1 Hugo, then Dave, sounded a bit better as well as allowing a usable range on the volume pot. It was widely reported here on the forum that this was the case, and while I tend to treat anything you ‘read on the internet’ with a degree of caution, in this case it was certainly true for me.

Whether any improvements came from the DAC or the preamp is hard to say, of course, although I now use a Chord power amp so I’m entirely dependent on the Dave volume control and sounds great.

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With a digital preamp stage involved (no matter how good), you should in theory be losing some resolution as you attenuate more. How much and how discernible, would be of course down to each individual system and pair of ears. In my experience with a previous DAC which had a digital preamp on, I thought going more than -20-30dB started to show, I thought, and then becoming more obvious further down. Now I have one with an analogue preamp and it’s quite ok to go to any level (no difference) into my Nait 2.

That’s one theory, and it is no doubt true in some cases, such as the basic ‘convenience’ volume control Naim provide as an option in their current streamers. It certainly isn’t true in the Chord DACs I’ve heard which are very different designs. I can hear no loss of sound quality when digital control is used, either as a digital preamp or into a Naim analogue pre.


Reply from system pics thread

Dave / MScaler settings I’ve set as below

Dave Hi Fil = Off (With the MScaler connected I turn this off with a solo Dave leave on)
Dave PHASE = Neg
Dave volume set as -11db (Blue)
MScaler OP SR = Max

Pair of WAVE Storm cables link the Dave and MScaler together.

Thanks, so I take it that with this setting your comfortable range of volume control on the NAC is up to 9-10 O’clock?

Even though I never go beyond 10 on the volume dial the Dave set at -11db provides a comfortable range on the 552 volume, set this way I’ve also noticed better response from the 300.

Also as Chris mentioned there is no loss in quality using the Dave in pre amp mode but it’s also worth pointing out when the MScaler is used the volume is lower by a couple of db.

I had the same “issue” with my Chord Hugo TT2 and Nac 202: further to the Chord’s customer service suggestion, I use my TT2 in pre-AMP mode with volume set between -15dB and -12dB without any detrimental effects on signal and sound quality.

Correct me if I am wrong I think the 552 allows you attenuate … the input…I think Mr Dane may be able to advise…

What do you mean by attenuate?

This might work…it works on the lower preamps…like the 112…
‘’ To program the volume control for each input first set the volume control to a comfortable listening

level with the loudest source (probably CD). Enter program mode by pressing and holding the prog key

until the amplifier volume control indicator flashes. Select the input to be adjusted using the handset

and use the vol up and down keys to set the volume to a comfortable listening level. The amplifier

volume control will not rotate during this operation. Select a further input to adjust. To exit program

mode press and hold the prog key until the volume control indicator stops flashing, or operate any

control on the amplifier’’

Its worth a try…

Thanks for sharing, I never knew this was possible… Perhaps it’s mentioned in the manuals, but I don’t recall seeing it there… Anyway, it does sound cool… I hope it is easy to “undo” and bring things back to factory settings.

I may be blind but can’t find this in the manual. Where is this from?

It’ll be from the NAC112 manual.

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