Simple volume knob for sale?
March 10, 2012 8:18 AM   Subscribe

Why can't I find a desktop-style analog volume knob?

I'd like to have a knob for controlling my computer speakers' volume on my desk. I'm picturing something like the Griffin Powermate, but because I'm planning to use this at work where I can't install stuff, I need it to be analog rather than USB/software-based. Where can I find one?

I'd think this should be the simplest thing in the world: two 1/8" jacks, with a pot wired between them. (And a big ol' stereo knob, naturally) It could be mounted in a tiny project box. I'd build it myself, but as Mitch Hedberg said, this is a half-assed commitment. So why doesn't this seem to exist?
posted by electric_counterpoint to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There are plenty, though they're generally used for headphone applications, and are therefore compact and non-cool-looking. Here's one.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:39 AM on March 10, 2012

Thanks, I knew I'd seen these before, but couldn't figure out how to Google it. This would work in a pinch, but I'll hold out for something with a big knob.
posted by electric_counterpoint at 8:45 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

So why doesn't this seem to exist?

I get your frustration - it's an idiotically simple device - but if you think about it there's no real market for it, so I can see why nobody's much bothering to make one.

I mean, we're talking computer speakers here, so, y'know, 99.999% of the population are gonna adjust the volume with their computer software. Or maybe with the volume knob that's an integral part of their computer speaker. Why add another doo-ma-hickey ?

Sys Rq makes a good point. Here's one from Monoprice or one from Radio Shack.

Googling "computer volume control knob" got me the SM Pro Nano Patch and the TC Electronic Level Pilot, which are meant for computer-based recording set-ups. They might be pricier than you'd like, plus you'll need adapters for your 1/8" connectors.

If you can build it yourself, I'd say bump up to a three-quarter-assed commitment and do it. It'll be what, $20 in parts and an hour of your time ? Go for it.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:03 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's this thing.
posted by chazlarson at 9:06 AM on March 10, 2012

Price is a wee bit steep, but this will do it (need 1/8" to RCA cables): Goldpoint SA2 Level Control.
posted by 6550 at 9:07 AM on March 10, 2012

There's this thing.

That's a volume control designed to go in between an amplifier and speakers, and is usually used to control in-wall mounted speakers, particularly when the amplifier is tucked away in an AV cabinet or room, so isn't really suited for this application.
posted by 6550 at 9:09 AM on March 10, 2012

Some DIY plans for headphone amp with volume control here.

isn't really suited for this application

Right, I suppose you'd need to run the audio out from the computer to an amp, then to that thing. Good point. You're right; not really suitable. My first thought was to run the headphone out directly to that device, but it's not high-level enough, is it?
posted by chazlarson at 9:14 AM on March 10, 2012

I use this one. It also allows me to switch back and forth between the speakers and my headphones (and effectively mute the speakers) with a button push.
posted by tyllwin at 9:39 AM on March 10, 2012

From the pro audio front, there's also the Radial MC3.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 11:21 AM on March 10, 2012

A lot of multimedia keyboards have volume knobs. Here's one made by Dell: Dell SK-8135 Multimedia USB HUB Computer Keyboard

You'd have to test it to see if you'd need to install a new driver for the volume knob to work though.
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear at 12:41 PM on March 10, 2012

You can look in the car-audio world for level controls - throw in some cheap RCA to 1/8" adapters and this one would do the trick for you. I reckon you could add your own big knob of choice if the existing knob is too small.

Hold the phone, I just found this! Look at the bigness of that knob!
posted by davey_darling at 6:34 PM on March 10, 2012

When I buy PC speakers, I always get the kind that have a hardware volume control. Software volume control is never fast enough or reliable enough.
posted by intermod at 8:11 PM on March 10, 2012

I use AutoHotKey to map Ctrl + Win + MouseWheel to control the system volume. If you're an audiophile, this might not be your bag, but I like it. Code:

^#MButton::Send {Volume_Mute}

^#WheelDown::Send {Volume_Down 2}

^#WheelUp::Send {Volume_Up 2}
posted by jmfitch at 12:40 PM on March 11, 2012

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