I think they all have a built in gain control, whether as a DAC or a full linestage with DAC.
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I'm using one paired with the BMC S1 amp, so my volume control is via the DIGM input ... not the built in attenuator. I think it's an exceptional piece, especially if using a BMC amp and the DIGM.
However we did do a brief comparison to an Aesthetix Calypso Sig pre and the BMC pre section both fed by a Simaudio Eclipse cd player. In that setup the BMC was clearly more resolving, had similar soundstage width but much greater depth. The BMC also put images more clearly defined in space, the Aesthetix sounded a bit smeared together in comparison. The Aesthetix had more bass, but not better bass. Bass from the BMC was more fleshed out and greater tone.
I am a BMC dealer just so you know. But they are the only product line I'm a dealer for. Since I spend all my time building speakers, I'm only interested in carrying truly exceptional products that are worth my time doing so.
I am not a dealer. I am just a music lover. I have heard alot of really nice DACs. The BMC DAC into BMC monos is really awesome. You can find a better DAC, but you would have to spend twice as much. You should take into consideration the fact that BMC uses the Current Injection input and gain is controlled inside the amp (like ASR, but better) so you gain huge advantages bypassing the firt gain stage. The DAC has one of the most impressive PSUs I've seen in a DAC. My only criticism of the DAC is that it's a chip DAC. But you would never know it listening to it. The totaldac d1 is better and I am now using totaldac d1 into the regular balanced input of the BMC monoblocks. The BMC monos can't be beat for anywhere near the money they cost; I've tried. :-)
Pacificdigital, like Dallasjustice, I have the BMC DAC1 PRE which I use with the new BMC M2 amps. The DAC1 only has balanced outputs to allow the Current Injection mode with BMC amps. I also have the new USB asynchronous input board. I have never like USB input and still don't. When I use the DAC1, I use a dac outside it, a prototype of the Exemplar and go into the DAC1 as a single-ended input. I have also tried the SP Dif input on the DAC1 which is better than the USB, but still prefer the Exemplar dac, which has a tube amplification board.
I will say that the Current Injection is much better than just balanced input to the amps.