Options for a less expensive attenuator option?
Attenuators are expensive. For the price of two gainclones, I can buy a single DACT series attenuator. Kits are'nt cheap either; they start at 50$ on eBay.
So, what's a cheapskate to do?
First, there's the series attenuator option. Common (and inexpensive) break-before-make switches can be used, and they don't need many resistors. However, some have reported a certian amount of "fuzz" from sending the signal through so many resistors.
Price: About 5$ for a 2-deck 12-position Russian surplus rotary switch on eBay, and about 6$ for 24 Dale 1/4w 1% resistors from Mouser.
Secondly, there's the ladder option. Although a massive pain in the kiester to make, a ladder attenuator has the benifit of (in theory) sounding much better than a series attenuator. The pricetag, however, is a bit on the nasty side.
4-pole 22 position rotary switch: 25$
88 Dale metal film resistors: about 15$
Total cost: 40$.
Finally, there's the digital attenuator option. If you can figure out how to make it work, it's possible to build one of these reasonably cheaply. However, they're still not that cheap.
The Aikido attenuator PCB kit $29
"The kit includes 32 resistors. Resistors vary in quality and in price; some go for as much as $12 each. Fortunately, this clever attenuator uses fewer resistors (only 32) than would be expected from a conventional 32-position stepped attenuator, as two series attenuators would need a total of 72 resistors; and two ladder attenuators would require 140 resistors. (Resistors, like capacitors, are the objects of hot debates, where one audiophile’s “rich tonality” is an other's blurry and bloated mess, and one audiophile’s “clarity” is an other's cold and harsh stridency; so, generic 1% MF resistors are included, but any of the exotic resistors could be used instead. But really, any type of resistor in this attenuator will make a better sounding volume control than even the best potentiometer.)
Besides, my "40$ solution" is a true ladder attenuator, and costs less. Plus, it's only one knob.
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