I have been researching the direct route lately, using passive pre/volume controls. It seems that the best option for that route, is the Bent Audio system using Stephens & Billington stepped transformers. For basic manual controls, they have some units that start around $725. If you want remote control, they have one of the coolest remote control systems that I have ever seen. They have a "base unit" that looks like it comes from the 25th century, which recieves the remote control signals, and then sends the control information by Toslink to some remote boxes that house the transformer controls. This allows you to locate the "Base Unit" anywhere you want, and have the actual controls down near the amp, where they should be. It allows you to keep the cable lengths to a minimum, and have the advantages of the transformer volume controls, and have the coolest looking remote/reciever thing on the planet. Pretty expensive, but very cool. I think that I'm going to build the manually operated kit, but I would love to have one of those cool remote control "base units" on my equipment rack.
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