If I understand correctly, your computer/dac has too much gain and you can't control the volume. I haven't used a mac in a while but I think you can go into preferences and change the sensitive the volume control. Kind of like setting the mouse up to move faster or slower when you move it. If you don't have adjustments to work with you may have to go with a preamp. I don't know what your budget is but to me, the preamp is very important to get right, and that usually means spending a lot of money because it is very hard to get something that sounds good at a low cost. So, basically, my opinion is if you can't get a really good preamp then don't get one at all. I would go with a passive unit because you don't have to spend a lot of money to get something that sounds very good and you avoid all the problems that a cheap line stage brings with it.
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