Adding Placette for finer volume adjustment?

I cannot get a small-enough volume gradations from the Dact 23-Step attenuator on my (tubed) preamp. I was thinking of trying a Placette passive between the preamp and my power amp. (There is a lot of gain going on with my EMM cdp, a lot with the XLR outputs, less with the SE ones, so I am usually limited to the 1st 4 steps on the attenuator.)

I don't want to muddy-up the sound.

I tried some well-regarded attenuators thingys that attach to the RCA jacks, which did give me decent gradations, but made the sound muddy and veiled, so I gave up on those.

I *LOVE* the sound of the tubed preamp I am using, but I may have to give up on it and just get another preamp so solve this attenuation problem. Oh well...

I don't think another preamp is a very good idea. Why not just add a little attenuation on the input of the preamp "voltage divider". Say 6db to start with.

That would be adding just two resistors on each channel. I don't know the preamp you are using but it may mean just changing the value of two resistors already there. Use good quality resistors and you should be fine.
I did the very same thing to attenuate the gain on my CAT SL1 - the Placette must be very transparent as I could not easily discern its presence in the chain, but it did solve the problem of too much gain and too large of a jump between steps - I think it would work for you for the very reason you are thinking of. I expect Detredwings approach would work too, but I would not know how to do it, and would not given the really fine steps the Placette makes possible - it is worth a try.
Thanks for the quick advice. I talked to the preamp designer and he said there is nothing he could do to the preamp internally that would not negatively affect the sound, and he suggested I try the attenuators (rothwells and goldenrods, which did not work out for me).

Thanks Pubul for the Placette advice, I may just pick up a used one to try it.
The Lightspeed Attenuator, discussed at length in other threads, is another possibility. Less money and apparently even more transparent. No remote, but you wouldn't need that anyway.
Thanks for the quick advice. I talked to the preamp designer and he said there is nothing he could do to the preamp internally that would not negatively affect the sound, and he suggested I try the attenuators (rothwells and goldenrods, which did not work out for me).

Thanks Pubul for the Placette advice, I may just pick up a used one to try it.

The reason I'm going to this trouble is that the sound of this preamp is so unbelievably good it transforms my setup here to something great. There is something very special going on here. It's actually hard to describe. It is real magic, with rounded natural no-fatigue truth that is spellbinding. I'm actually shocked at what this preamp is doing. All with my little Cremona Auditors. And actually, the gain thing depends on the recording, and if I'm lucky, the level is OK. But on some CDs, I can't get the right level & it's frustrating.
Did you try the Endler or EVS attenuators? I started with the fixed goldenjacks and they helped. You basically get 2 volume controls when you add the adjustable attenuators. I don't need the Endlers since I got the EVS. Send me a message if you are interested in them. Less $$$ than a Placette and you can easily re-sell them if they don't meet your needs.
Tell us, what is this mystery tube preamp?
Feel free to PM me for more info or to discuss this if you feel like it.
By the way, I do use the Lightspeed Attenuator which is the best passive I have used - including TVC AVC and both Placette RVC and buffered, but I did not recommend that of the bat since you really have to get the impedances right and I think Placette might be easier to deal with in that regard. But Endlers and EVS are probably a good approach as well, one less IC can't hurt:)
OK, thanks. Again, I'm trying to keep my preamp in the loop here, rather than replace it with a passive pre.
Replace the source?
Oh well, I didn't want this to be a discussion about my preamp here, but I feel I owe it to the Audiogon community to share my honest findings with them since I depend upon these forums so much.

The preamp is an Apex Pinnacle (TAS reviewed it in the current 7/2011 issue.)

I actually bought it as a headphone amp as I am relegated to headphone listening sometimes for domestic reasons, and have to say it's a great headphone amp. (My balanced Sennheiser HD800s are amazing and sound like a whole new class of headphone with these. I think the Pinnacle maybe have been voiced with HD800s, but I'm just speculating here. My balanced Denon D7000s are also spectacular with a whole new level of resolution and a relaxed flowing sound where I can listen for hours to them.)

I then tried it as my preamp, and it was a real revelation. Every little musical element is just right there in its own space without any hard edges or analytical sound, even the smallest detail. Edges of each sound are not hard/soft, just natural. I can just breathe out and take it all in with no anxiety at all. I did not think a preamp could make such a difference. I would have thought my little used SF Cremona Auditors turned into megabuck monitors, like the TAD ones I heard & was really impressed with recently at the Axpona NY show (OK, without the deepest bass or big sound, but in my smaller space, the tonality is superior with the Pinnacle/Cremonas). The same goes for the wonderful MBL (101E?) room at the Axpona show (with all MBL electronics). All because of the Pinnacle. Everything, vocals, instruments, percussion, are just soooo listenable, with a golden glow and a rich detailed texture.
I really can't describe it, but now I really feel what it means to have an emotional reaction to the music,where you kind of choke up from some familiar music.
And this even happens to my good old plain redbook CDs (an EMM XDS1 is my only source), with both classical (Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven on cheap Naxos CDs) and the Beatles, Mamas&the Papas, Carole King, Supremes, Madonna, the Animals.

Now, I have not owned many high-caliber preamps, so I can't compare this to others that may be as good, but I have owned a Mac C46, a Van Alstine Ultra EC+, the big Levinson No. 32 (for few years), an RSA B52, an ARC Ref2, and a Threshold T3. All of them had different sounds, and I liked them all more or less, but none provided as dramatic a difference as the Pinnacle. Like I said, I have not had any of the esteemed modern tube preamps here like Shindos, Carys, CJs, Joules or ARCs, so maybe this is just my first intro to a fine tube preamp in my house, but on it's own, there is pure magic tonality and music coming out of my little Cremona Auditors.
So I may just suck it up and live with the volume control annoyance, and maybe hope in the future a new Attenuator or some gain control can be had for the amp down the line.

There are also some headfi reviews of the Pinnacle (Innerspace gets it right over there I think, along with 4N6), mostly as a headphone amp, comparing it side-by-side to a Leben for instance, that echo my sentiments.

And there's no remote on the Pinnacle either (I sure wish there was). If there was a 100 step attenuator and a remote, I would call this the perfect preamp.
Although not 100 steps the hificollective sells the Glasshouse Seiden 43 step attenuator (0.5W version) As a kit or fully assembled and Michael Percy Audio sells the Shallco 45 position kit. You would need someone to build it. They are both somewhat expensive but should give you what you want? There may be more sources for attenuators with more steps but I don't know them.

Also you could find out about attenuation at your amp end?

I built my own shunt style 24 step attenuators and made the steps very close together in the range where I listen to music. I know that everyone doesn't have the technical background to do that but you may find someone near you that could do it?
Thank you Detredwings, I would have to think about modding this amp, voiding the warranty, taking a risk. But I'll think about it. It did cross my mind.
OK, I made some real progress here & I am satisfied now.
I used my little CI-Audio (Channel Island Audio) VP3 passive volume control ($300, with a great non-stepped ALPS "blue-velvet" dial that has a nice feel to it) and placed it between the preamp and power-amp and I got excellent transparency. I let it run in for a day and it opened up nicely.

Previously, I had the device positioned between the CD player and the preamp and it made the sound too restricted, but in this new position it is very fine and virtually invisible. I recommend this little box, about 3 inches by 1 inch that takes no power, just the RCA inputs/outputs.

I set the preamp volume about where I was using it to get a level just one step louder than I like (the 5th step of 24) and the CI is at about the 3 o'clock position, and it gives me perfect control.

Of course, I'm tempted to try the lightspeed or placette, but I just stick with this since it works.

By the way, EVC attenuators are not made anymore (I emailed Ric on this & he told me this.)