I would contact dan at www.modwright.com who has the great tube outpu stage mod. He may be able to incorporate a vc in there.
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He does indeed incorporate a stepped attenuator that eliminates the need for a preamp. His own opinion is that the fully modded XA777ES is the best SACD/Redbook. If I may, the following are quotes from his e-mail to me:
"The tube stage is re-configured to allow the signal to
run full range from 0V-12V, with the tube stage acting
as a fully active line stage. Volume control is
achieved by direct installation of a DACT CT-2 stepped
attenuator. This is a manual volume control, with 24
"It is quite simply the best digital that I have ever
heard. I am speaking of Redbook CD playback as well
as SACD. SACD playback is phenomenal, Redbook
playback on this unit makes upsamplers sound WRONG."