Source Output Too High for Headphones

I’m trying to find any suggestions on the way to reduce the output from my source, a Sony XA5400ES CD player .I run the CD player to my headphone amp, either a iFi Pro ican, or a Woo WA22 amp. With any of my headphones.Which are high or low efficiency, high or low impedance, I can only turn the quantity up 1 or 2 notches, or below 9 o’clock.There is no volume adjustment on the Sony, unlike my Oppo 105D.
Can I put anything in-line to scale back the output?


Yes, there are many products that can cut the volume. Excessive loudness was a common problem with older airplane headphone jacks. I bought a $10 Koss product a long time ago for air travel alone (it’s pretty flimsy and just okay IMO).

With a quality full-size CD player, I’m guessing you’d want something more substantial. There are plenty of simple desktop volume controls of varying quality (example), and more complex pro audio items too (which typically use 1/4" or XLR cables; example). Beyond this, you could buy a passive or active preamp with volume, balance, tone, source selectors, etc.


Wow! Thank you so much for your reply.

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I used to have that issue between my DAC and headphone amp. After discussing this with the amp manufacturer, I bought a pair of Shure xlr in-line attenuators. I love how much more flexibility I now have on my volume control, and haven’t noticed any sound degradation.

If you use RCA interconnects, then the equivalent would be something like this, but I’ve never actually used that particular product.

Note that the Shure attenuators come individually, so you’d need to order 2, whereas the RCA attenuators come in a pair.

Those attenuators are fixed, so if you want something that’s variable, or with multiple inputs/outputs, then as @generic pointed out, a passive preamp would work. Goldpoint was recommended to me when I was looking for a solution. They are pricey, and I decided to try the much cheaper attenuators first.


Thank you so much for your suggestion I really appreciate that.

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I agree to use the Harrison Attenuators. I use a 3dB one because I found out using a “Wavelet” app on my phone that I was 3dB deaf in my right ear. This is the only app I could find that has a Balence Control. I’m generally a ‘flat responce’ guy. But their “Bass Boost” curve works well when needed. Reading the Amazon reviews, my general consensus is that the 6dB pair should work for your application. You can find the Harrison’s here:

Quality build and much cheaper than another component and cables.
Best of luck.

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I use something like this. It’s the prior model to this one (VPC3). You can use it to as an output device, or reverse as an input device. The volume control wide open is full volume, and reductions to the volume control trims volume output.

You can find lower cost models - this is a high quality one that I picked up used. I use this my office system to toggle between my preamp out to a headphone amp and active desktop speakers.

Schiit Audio sells one for fifty bucks.


Similar to the Harrison Attenuators, I use ROTHWELL in-line RCA audio attenuators to reduce the signal going to my subwoofers. I imagine it will work for your case here too.

Thanks for your suggestion.

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Yes, the Schiit SYS would be perfect. I own three pieces of Schiit as well as their PYST cables. (The description is worth the price of admission)
If you need longer ones, they have Snake Oil 6" to 2 metre from $20-40.
Their names are tongue in cheek, but the quality is top notch value.

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You’re welcome. Hope you choose a satisfactory solution.

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You could also consider an attenuator after the headphone output, such as the iFi IEMatch. I’ve found it to be quite effective, though it only comes in 3.5 mm and 2.5 mm sizes - no 6.3 mm nor 4.4 mm at the moment!

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Yes! Appreciated your opinion.