Volume Settings/Control - DAC vs Preamp?

I have a Bluesound Node 2 as my DAC and the Bluesound App has volume control. This is connected to my tube preamp which obviously has a volume control as well. What is the school of thought on volume settings and where to control volume during playback? Should I set the DAC's volume to a certain fixed level (and what should that setting be - low, mid, all the way up?) and adjust volume from my preamp? Or vice-versa? Does it matter? It's way easier to control volume via the Bluesound app as my preamp has no remote but I can live with either solution if it makes a difference.

I have combed through a number of similar posts but not sure I got a clear answer.
Ag insider logo xs@2xitball
I'm guessing the integrated volume control in the Node 2 is a digital attenuator. If this is the case, probably the optimum sound quality should be with the Node 2 set to max. or turn off the internal volume control (whatever is available in the app). I would try it this way, internal volume at MAX (or off) and control the volume from the pre-amp. Of course, if you hear no difference, go back to controlling it via the app. Of course you could always set the internal volume to max, control the volume through the pre-amp. and just use the internal app volume control if/when a passage gets too loud.
I've been considering the node 2 myself so have been doing research. If I remember correctly, it uses a 32 bit dac chip with on-chip volume control and the math as per ess' explanation proves there is no degredation of sound, ideal if you're using the node 2 as your only source.

You could try that straight into the amp and ket us know. If you need the preamp due to having other sources, I agree with reubent's suggestion. It would sound best that way.

For best signal to noise behavior, I recommend max output from the source and then reduce it at the latest point, the integrated amp.

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

When I purchased my Node 2 last year I had a modest set-up consisting of a Peachtree Grand Pre and a Sunfire stereo amp. At the time I was using the dac in the Peach but had to bypass it to listen to Tidal MQA tracks. Then I started just using the Node as the preamp because that was the only source I had at the time. Worked great and did not really notice any degrading of the sound or loss of transparency even at lower volumes. I also like the fact that you can easily synch a remote control to the node.
If not bypassing the preamp, I would operate the Node 2 at full volume, unless the gain is such that you can't use the preamps volume beyond 9-10 0'clock. If that is so, back the volume off a little such that you are using the preamps volume around 12 o'clock.
This is a great question and someone asked it on the Bluesound forum and the helpdesk's response was controlling the volume using the application should not negatively affect the sound quality. In other words, there's no "bit-stripping". I have also compared controlling the volume between the app's volume control and my preamp and couldn't hear a difference. With all that said, I still always set the volume at max on the app and control it from the preamp, just as a matter of principle.
Like the other posters I have the Node 2 and tried several different settings without noticing any difference in sound quality or noise levels.

I now have it set so the Node 2 sounds the same "level" as my phono stage
- that way I have no surprises or adjustments switching from one to the other
- it’s about 80% of the max output level
- great for comparing digital to analogue - i.e. on occasions when I feel inclined :-)

Hope that helps

Regards - Steve
Thanks everyone, very helpful answers.I had the source volume low and the preamp high. Will adjust accordingly and listen for differences.
I do the same thing,  DAC with volume into a pre without.... I just set the preamp a little louder than I would normally listen and just trim the dac down a few dB's..  -3 to -6 so I can trim up or down via remote on the dac