Topic: Where to adjust volume -playback software, DAC, or Amp (or a mixture)?
I have just purchased a RME ADI-2 DAC FS and I will be using it at my desktop. I am a Roon user (music playback software). The DAC is fed over USB from a Allo USBridge Signature streamer using Ropieee software. I also have an optical connection from my Windows 10 machine. The DAC then feeds, via balanced XLR, a set of ADAM F5 active speakers. I do not currently use headphones in this setup, put it’s a possibility in the future.
I need some help and advice about how to set my volume on my desktop endpoint setup, as there are a number of places to adjust the volume and I am not sure which is the most optimal. I am just getting my head around volume control and it is not something I have given a huge amount of thought to previously, I do wonder if the gain leaving the DAC is too high.
As an example, I have Roon upsampling, to the power of 2, and I have some headroom management enabled (-15dB). I have also enabled volume levelling (at the max -25lufs) in order to bring the signal strength down, or its too loud. The actual volume is set to fixed in Roon so I can’t adjust via the Roon software in this configuration.
From a hardware perspective, the DAC obviously has a volume control of its own. The speakers also have volume control, but it is only accessed via a knob on the rear of each speaker, by default its set to ‘0’ but you can add or subtract 6db.
What is the best, or most optimal way, to control volume?
My choices are essentially, via Roon (either via enabling volume control, volume levelling and headroom adjustment), via the DAC or via the speakers or a mixture. Turning the speakers level down is tricky but one way to do it accurately might be to measure what is coming out of them at the seating position via a Umik microphone and REW for example.
Does anyone have any thoughts? Should I consider XLR attenuators perhaps?
Thanks for any comments or help!