Levels from CD to CD vary too much.

I am using a DAC-1 with a Levinson 383 and various cd players. I know that the simple reply is that is what a volume control is for, however, I run the system all day long sometimes using a changer to shuffle play. It becomes quite cumbersome always messing with the volume. I do not want to change the dynamic range or deteriorate the signal too much.

I was thinking of running an APHEX Compellor and APHEX Dominator into the systems post DAC before the integrated amp. Looks like the Compellor just levels and doesn't touch peaks and the Dominator can set a hard ceiling. Thus, only weak signals will be lifted and extreme peaks cut.

My other consideration was getting a VALLEY PEOPLE Dynamite 2 compressor limiter. Compressor Limiters though are more obvious in the signal. I suppose if it is entirely necessary I could get an AMEK compressor limiter or some $2,000 tube model like the one by TL Audio. That of course would warm up the signal BUT I hear that the DAC-1 is accurate but more clinical than musical anyway.

Is anyone using anything they could recommend or have any other useful suggestions. Thanks.
Here's another idea -- go with a hard-disk based music server.

I have the Olive Musica, and it has a variety of settings to do what you want. I paid a little over $1000 for my Musica (less than you are looking at spending just for compression) and it has the obvious advantage for all-day listening that it will shuffle across hundreds of albums in a huge variety of ways (by rating, by artist, by genre, by playlist, etc.) All controlled right from your computer.

You have high-end gear, and will be concerned with sound quality. The Olive supports lossless compression (I use FLAC). You could use your DAC-1 (or any other external DAC) with the Olive (you would not be content with the built-in DAC on the Musica at least). I would think that the Musica with external DAC would give good sound for your all-day listening. Beyond that, there are various groups that modify these, including Red Wine Audio (see their forum at AudioCircle). RAW has a great reputation, but may not be a good choice for all-day-listening, as part of their mod is to move to rechargeable battery power. Other modders exist, but I know less about them.

Other music servers may offer similar volume control options to the Olive. Some PC-based music players (like the SlimServer/Squeezebox combo) may as well. Here's how these features are implemented on the Olive (this is informational for you -- I don't use these features much and haven't compared them to external systems like you are considering):

On a song-by-song and/or album-by-album or "genre-wide" basis, you can set a db adjustment up or down, or choose a "normalize" option. The latter automatically chooses an up or down adjustment for each song so that all normalized songs will have the same average volume. This setting does *not* compress the song, it just adjusts the volume for each song. The settings are permanently saved with each song, so you only have to go through this once. This is a good setting if you want to preserve the internal dynamics of the music, but adjust for different recording levels.

If you want to compress the sound, the Olive also offers the option of unit-wide "dynamic compression". You can choose "night mode", "loud environment" or "expert mode" in which you tweak about a half-dozen paramaters yourself. This feature would work well when you want to "smooth out" dynamics within individual songs.

Both "normalization" of songs and "dynamic compression" can be used at the same time if desired.

Another option to consider....

- Eric
I do not want to change the dynamic range or deteriorate the signal too much.
What does "too much" mean? If you mean "none that I can hear", aside from keeping your preamp remote within easy reach, there may be no solution.