A pot, or potentiometer, serves as a volume or balance control in a preamplifier.
It’s essentially a resistor, but not a very good sounding one.
And resistors all have a sound to them.
When we choose resistors to build products we pay close attention. After all, the entire signal is forced through these devices, one after another. Their cumulative sonic impacts can be significant. In each of our products we listen test resistor types to find the best match within budget. This includes not only the types of resistor construction, but even the brand. They all sound different.
It’s therefore easy to imagine that when it comes to the volume control, where the entire signal is forced through, it’s really important to put your best foot forward.
And that foot isn’t necessarily a pot. There are other, better sounding alternatives.
The first we’ll look at is called a stepped attenuator. These are found on more expensive products because they are typically hand built with expensive parts.
A stepped attenuator is like an input selector switch, a subject we’ve previously covered in the past few days.
I’ll go into some depth on stepped attenuators tomorrow.