Volume attenuation - UM1 and iPod?

Discussion in 'Portable Headphones & Earphones' started by freija, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. freija

    freija New Member

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    Hi - I got the current iPod Classic yesterday, and am having problems with the volume level - it just doesn't go low enough (even set at zero it is still loud!). I know that there are a range of factors involved: that IEMs are often very sensitive and UM1s are quite sensitive IEMs at that; that I'm still young and have been careful with my ears so far, so my hearing is still quite good and is 'used' to quiet music; that I like to listen to music softly late at night and in generally quiet environments. And that the iPod just has a poor volume control with a high default minimum level, since I didn't ever experience this with my old Sony player (also using UM1s).

    Changing headphones is not an option: I love my UM1s, they're perfect for the music I listen to and I get a good, comfy seal with the Comply tips. I've played with iPod settings all morning - sound check hasn't made any real difference and setting the volume limit as low as I can allows for more precision within the iPod's predetermined volume range, but doesn't actually lower it. I'm going to try to bring the file volume of all the tracks down in iTunes next, but I'd rather not need to alter the file settings (they sound fine as they are when played on my laptop) - if I can, I'd like a way to reduce the volume of the player itself?

    This is where I get lost, though. The two best solutions I can see - trying not to impair sound quality (I was up until 4:30 am last night re-ripping a large chunk of my music into Apple lossless!) - are:

    1) an LOD (probably the iBasso CB07?) and an IEM-orientated amp (the FiiO E11 was suggested in another thread). I was already thinking about this for sound quality - but I hadn't realised how much volume would be a problem until I used the iPod last night! Are there any amps which are known to have particularly detailed, precise volume controls, right to the bottom? I'd also worry a bit about dial-style volume controls: are they easy to accidentally knock?

    2) an attenuator. There have been good and bad things said about these, and there seem to be a lot of cheap volume controls/extension leads on the market -I'd imagine the cabling on these alone would impair SQ? But what about just increasing impedence with something like this: Ultimate Ears Tool Kit or this: APureSound - Where The Music Is Always Pure - APS Audio LLC? Would either of these provide a significant drop in volume without impairing SQ?

    Any help or advice would be very much welcomed - I'm otherwise very, very happy with my new iPod and was even pleasantly surprised by the headphone jack, given all the negative comments that it has gained - but I'm really being put off by the volume!

    Thank you : )
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2011
  2. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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  3. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    Long term the amp route is better as by altering the electrical attenuation you will slightly affect the sound. I think that an aircraft attenuator would help but I also believe it would flatten the dynamics a little.

    This obviously gives you an excuse to buy an amp and LOD :D I love a good excuse for new gear!

    I like the Fiio E11 and CB07 for this job! If you have money left over from your lovely new iPod it might be interesting to go a bit further. If you want pricier suggestions I'm happy to make them.
     
  4. freija

    freija New Member

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    Oh, wow - I will, thank you! Nothing to lose and it may just be exactly what I'm looking for. : )
     
  5. freija

    freija New Member

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    Sorry - just read your second post. I'm definitely interested in suggestions (although I might need to wait on them)! What do you have in mind?
     
  6. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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  7. freija

    freija New Member

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    Oh, wow - that really looks good. I've looked at a few reviews online and the soundstage/clarity seems to be amazing! I'm definitely tempted.

    Would a potentiometer be prone to being knocked to a deafening volume when travelling, though? I've never used a portable amp, so maybe I'm completely wrong, but it looks as though it could happen. If so, in a similar price-range, I was wondering what you thought about this: RS Emmeline, The Shadow?

    Thank you so much for all your advice!
     
  8. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    The potentiometer on the uHA-120 is very resistant to movement, it moves really smoothly even if moved quickly. I have not found a problem with analogue volume controls and I just prefer them, but there are obvious advantages to the smaller form factor and digital volume. There is no good reason to not go for the Shadow, the Ray Samuel stuff is superb and your reason for choosing it is valid.:)
     
  9. freija

    freija New Member

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    Hi - sorry, back again. I tried the E1 this morning, but the step between 'off' and 'lowest volume' is still too big for my IEMs (although all the other steps are definitely much smoother than the iPod - it is a shame the volume doesn't go just a bit lower!). So it is going to be an amp+LOD, I think - I can't say I'm too disappointed to have a watertight excuse to try new kit!

    I was just wondering, please - do you maybe have any suggestions for a strong midway point between the E11 and the uHA-120? I really do like the look of the latter, but I want to get set up as soon as possible, and I think it would be a bit of a stretch at the moment. Is there anything worth considering around the £100 mark that will be able to drive my UM1s at a low volume (eta: maybe the iBasso T3?)? I feel a bit silly about all this - most people seem to find that they can't get enough sound out of an iPod - but I just can't enjoy my music properly at the moment.

    Thank you so, so much for all your help. This is such a brilliant place. : )
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2011
  10. RobinHiFi

    RobinHiFi Super Moderator

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    I don't think there is any reason to feel silly! - I have been away on holiday by the way so sorry for the long gap in replying.

    You could give the iBasso T3 analogue version a go. I would go for the analogue one as you will almost certainly find the same problem with the digital version. The E11 is very good though!:)
     
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