Why no remote controlled discrete resistor volume?

I don't get it. It seems that Alps have the remote volume control market cornered. My understanding is that, in general, discrete resistor volume controls (stepped attenuators or relay activated resistors as used by NAT, AN Kits and others) are thought to provide the best sonics (detail, clarity, precision, etc.), followed by potentiometers and then chip controls. If this is true, why have none of the discrete resistor gang (Goldpoint, DACT, Seiden, TKD, etc.) come up with a direct competitor (or drop-in replacement) to the basic Alps remote motorized conductive plastic potentiometer volume control that can be purchased (motor and all) for about $35? These things show up in some highly reviewed preamps with prices approaching $10K and above. It just seems to me there should be better sonic options for remote controlled volume on preamps costing several thousand dollars and up. Why is it so hard to motorize a stepped attenuator? Just curious.
How about this http://www.altavistaaudio.com/dact.html using Bent Audio's remote control system.
The Crystal CS3310 volume control chips are excellent are in many modern preamps and processors - I don't think they deserve third place in your ranking. They may not be better than old school but they technically they are just as good.

Not exactly "drop-in".
Good question. Potentiometers can add up to 7% distortion to the signal. That's a hell of a lot. Granted, QC goes a long way to avoid that, but what I'd like to know is just what is considered 'acceptable' to the audio community and is it widely known?
Shadorne, my experience is that I like the discrete resistor controls better than pots, because I sense greater clarity, definition and coherence. I only have one experience with a chip control (which I think sounds ok) but received some feedback on another forum;
I found it interesting that while they thought the PGA2310 was an upgrade of the CS3310 from Cirrus Logic, they still found the chip controls as a group to be crappy, including the PGA2320 in the $10K Esoteric C03.
Byron - that's great! I was not aware anyone had accomplished that. I still find it amazing that something so simple and relatively inexpensive (compared to the $5K+ preamps we purchase) has not been implemented by more companies compared to using a basic volume pot. Thanks also Ngjockey, although the Altavista solution is more what I was looking for.
John Chapman does a number of resistive based remote units using logic and high quality relays to do the switching.


Mitch2 you can go directly through John Chapman (Bent Audio) and do it yourself or get your local tech to install it for you.
Motorizing a switched control can be a bit of a trick. You can have some torque to overcome, if the switch is worth a hoot. No way are you going to see this for $35.00!

I've been watching the chip technology for 17 years now. The new ones are a lot better, but to this day if you have a state of the art preamp, those chips will shoot the preamp down before it can even get off the runway....

You did not mention relay operated controls but they are the next best thing to a motor turning a switch. So that makes the chip controls 4th on the list.

Bent Audio is one of the better places to look if you want to do a remote properly.
Hello Folks

We do put a remote controlled motor on the DACT used in our preamps, involves a few sprockets and a DC motor - it works well - and in my opinion there is no substitute for the DACT as far as sound quality is concerned.


Blue Circle makes one as well.

I had a DACT in the TEAD Vibe I used to own. I liked the sound of that preamp for solid state. Resolution was quite good, but I have heard better dynamics and better high frequencies.

Nikki, I am sure Gilbert's Blue Circle attenuator sounds outstanding, although installation could be a challange in most normal sized preamps. Thanks for the picture.
Ralph, I was not clear. I was pointing out how manufacturers of very expensive preamps use a low cost $35 part for one of the most critical aspects of a preamp - the volume control. My experience indicates the volume control is important to the sonics, and that spending $300-$500 or so for a quality volume control is totally reasonable for a preamp costing $5K and up. Based on the posts above, it seems the options are available but the manufacturers using the less expensive pots either decide the benefit does not improve sonics, or that they can sell preamps without the more expensive (and better sounding) volume control and that the remote option is more important. Some like at Joule, indicate the volume control is "outside of the signal path" and that their use of a pot doesn't matter. I do not quite understand how that works.
Mitch2, your experience is correct. There is no way around the fact that you have to control the volume; the more revealing your system is the more you have to make sure that the volume control is not messing things up.

You can get the control outside of the signal path by having it control the gain of the circuit rather than the signal level getting to it, but by no means does this allow you to skimp on the control. Anyone who has heard the effects of good quality resistors will understand this.
Gilbert's VC is big and barely fits in my pre which is over 14" deep. He had to install a little cap on the end so that the end of the motor could stick out a little past the chassis. He may be able to make it a little shorter, but you would need to ask him.

It works really well and is a no compromise remote VC using Shallco attenuators. It requires quite a bit of torque and virtually impossible to turn by hand.