How To Get More Usable Steps For Your Stepped Attenuator

-"It gets loud too soon"
You might have too much gain, so Pre-Attenuation may be required. 
With Goldpoint stepped attenuators, normal listening levels are typically when the knob position is between 9 o'clock and 2 o'clock. But if you have high output level signal source equipment (such as CD players), high gain power amplifiers, and/or very efficient speakers, a "regular" stepped attenuator may not provide enough attenuation for you, and you may experience the following:
1) The sound level is too high when turning the knob up only a few clicks - (8 o'clock, for example).
2) Turning the knob up past 12 o'clock makes the sound level higher than you would ever want it to be.
If either of the above conditions exist, a good solution is to install a pre-attenuation circuit. 
(Two resistors, Rp1 and Rp2, as shown below, are added to each channel.) 
Adding pre-attenuation allows you to turn the stepped attenuator knob up higher (which increases the number of usable steps on the stepped attenuator). In these cases, adding about 20dB in front of the stepped attenuator is about right. (See the charts below for sample resistor values which result in known attenuation amounts -
for use with known stepped attenuator values.)
The following tables show the amount of additional attenuation provided by different  Rp1 and Rp2 combinations. Determine your stepped attenuator value and then refer to the appropriate chart below to select  Rp1 and Rp2 values. Usually, about 20dB is a good amount to try first. 
You might use inexpensive resistors to find the correct amount of attenuation for your system, 
and then buy exotic ones for the final installation.
-"It does not get loud enough soon enough"
You might have insufficient gain - or too much attenuation. Here's a work around: 
With Goldpoint stepped attenuators, normal listening levels are typically between knob positions 9 and 2 o'clock.
But if you have to turn the knob way up before you can really hear anything, as could happen when using a stepped attenuator in a Passive Preamp, our "regular" stepped attenuator may be providing too much attenuation for your system. If you want to reduce the number of silent, unusable knob positions, here's what you need to do:
Install a resistor between your Ground point and the Ground pad on the stepped attenuator, as illustrated above. This  resistor causes the first knob position (which would normally be the "Fully OFF" position) to be some level above "Fully OFF".  Although this is not the optimum way to get the volume control to give a usable listening level sooner in its rotation, it is an easy way to do it. There would no longer be a full OFF knob position, but in some cases this still works out just fine.
The following table shows Rg1 resistor values to move the first knob position level some decibels above full OFF: