Volume level chain


Hi all,

Hope everyone is staying safe!

So here is my shelter in place question:

Are there best practices regarding volume level settings at each component?
Should volume be adjusted on one component and fixed at a certain level on the rest?


Given the following setups, does it matter which component is used for overall volume control?

Office setup:

    Laptop > Integrated > Speakers

    I leave the laptop volume at around 80% and adjust volume on the integrated.

Living room setup:

    Laptop > Temporary DAC (Fostex HPA8)  > Preamp > Amp > Speakers

    I leave the laptop volume at around 80%, preamp ~ 75% and adjust volume on the DAC.

I wasn't sure but figured it would be safe(?) to keep any fixed volume components at 80% or below.

Thanks!

  
hleeid
Generally I'd avoid attenuating the digital signal and keep the laptop and DAC at 100%. If you're trying to balance the level between preamp inputs so that the DAC channel isn't too much louder than another component then I'd use the volume control on the DAC to trim the level to match the other components but use the preamp to control the overall level when you're listening... if you know what I mean.
If your preamp has a particularly nasty potentiometer there's a chance that digital attenuation would be better but that is unlikely to be the case; when you attenuate digitally you are throwing away data (digital bits) whereas analogue attenuation reduces the signal voltage level. So the advice is to use the volume control which distorts the signal least and usually that is in the analogue stage.
1+ pragmas, digital volumes that are dithered are significantly better but still I leave all my digital equipment at 90% plus. Digital metering is a big plus in this regard. You can see where you are. In the analog world you just want to match volumes so you do not get a big surprise when you switch sources. Most modern preamps are hard to overload so I would try to keep them as high as possible matching volume to the lowest output source at it max volume. 
For people who do not have digital metering there is a device called the Audiophillio that is a USB to SPDIF converter that controls digital volume with loss of bits. Very cool device. 
Excuse me, without loss of bits.
Thanks for the responses!  
Understood.  Makes sense now.

@mijostyn -   Most modern preamps are hard to overload so I would try to keep them as high as possible matching volume to the lowest output source at it max volume.

My preamp is an older Bryston BP26. Is it modern enough in terms of overload resistance?
The Bryston runs of +-15V rails so will be fine with the full output from the DAC which you can set to 'direct out' bypassing the volume control entirely.