Vishay Dale Stepped Attenuator

Vishay Dale Stepped Attenuator


There has a lot of talk recently about the improvements that can be made to the sound quality or rather in this the case the transparency of a pre amp by using a stepped attenuator like the one pictured above that makes use of the Vishay Dale military grade RN60 metal film resistors which are highly regarded in audiophile circles for their lack of sound.

The Vishay Dale Stepped Attenuator is the next step up from a variable resistor or pot as a choice for a volume control in a pre amp stage. Most carbon based volume pots add horrific sonic degradation to the passing signal and you will be surprised to learn that even a well made and highly popular audiophile choice that is used by a lot of manufacturers such as the Alps "Bluepot" adds colouration to the signal although to a lesser extent.

It is only when you listen to a passive pre amp that uses a stepped attenuator like the Vishay Dale one that you realise how much of a final say a poor volume control has on the outputted sound in even the most minimalist audiophile design.

After having read so much about the Vishay Dale Stepped Attenuator and similar products such a the DACT variant that uses surface mount resistors, I knew I had to sample one. My current passive pre-amp was a QED MA34 which uses an Alps Blue and I had tweaked it further by replacing the phono sockets with superior teflon insulated gold plated ones and then hard wiring the signal paths with pure silver cable. As you can appreciate this made the QED MA-34 a fairly impressive performer and so I was skeptical whether a similar pre-amp based on the Vishay Dale Stepped Attenuator would sound dramatically better.

Part II - Building a passive pre amp.

For UK readers the Vishay Dale Stepped Attenuator is available mail order at a very reasonable price from Hi-Fi Collective for £45+VAT.

This entry was posted on Saturday January 6th, 2007 at 1:01 AM and is filed under Tweaks. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response.

2 Responses to Vishay Dale Stepped Attenuator

Difficulty of mad ear+ kit - head-fi: covering headphones, earphones and portable audio Says:
June 9th, 2008 at 8:36 AM

[...] have less inherent noise than a traditional volume pot and add less coloration as well. See the vishay-dale-stepped __________________ Main Rig: ARCAM FMJ CD36 CDP -> Custom MAD Ear + Purist tube headphone amp [...]

Peter swartz Says:
May 6th, 2009 at 5:03 AM

Please send me a price list for stereo dual ganged stepped attenuators for home HI-Fi use. Thanks, Peter

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