Implementing Volume Control into dCS LINA DAC

dCS audio LINA is a new product series from dCS, designed specifically for headphone listeners. It includes a Network Streaming DAC, a Headphone Amplifier, and a Master Clock. These components can be purchased individually or as a complete system.

However, dCS Audio identified an opportunity to expand LINA's usability by introducing a new feature - volume control within the LINA DAC. This enhancement would enable LINA to function independently, catering to a broader audience, including both headphone and speaker enthusiasts.

Key Objectives:

Add the ability to control volume without the LINA amp
Increase the visibility of the display in sit-back experience from a distance
Prevent potential damage to speakers due to sudden volume changes

UX Design Process Overview

User Interviews:

We conducted user interviews with dealers from around the world to get their feedback on the proposed solutions.LINA UI Workshop: We ran a workshop with LINA users to gather their input on the new volume control feature. We also wanted to identify any potential concerns or usability issues. Diverge and Converge: We used the Diverge and Converge method to generate and refine potential solutions.

Workshop: LINA UI Exploration

To kickstart the project, we organised a LINA UI workshop with the dCS Team, including director, designers, engineers, customer service manager and product manager. The primary objectives were:

Introducing Volume Control: Brainstorming ways to introduce volume control to LINA DAC for both headphone and speaker users.
Switching Modes: Finding a solution for users to easily and safely switch between Headphone mode (fixed output) and 2-channel mode (variable output).


To further refine the solutions, we conducted a Crazy-8 session, allowing participants to sketch and write down their ideas rapidly. This exercise led to detailed concepts for each solution.

Following the Crazy-8 session, the team voted on the proposed ideas. The top three ideas selected were:

Enhanced Display Visibility: To allow users to view the LINA display from a distance. Volume Lock during Shipping: Implementing a volume lock function that activates during shipping to prevent damage.
Menu-Based Volume Lock: Incorporating the volume lock function within the LINA menu settings.

Low-fidelity Prototype & User Interviews

With the selected ideas in mind, I proceeded to create a low-fidelity prototype using Figma. The prototype showcased how the new volume control and display enhancements would work in the LINA user interface.
Low-fidelity prototype link
To validate our design decisions, we conducted user interviews with dealers and audiophiles from around the world. The feedback received during this phase was largely positive, with users appreciating the ease of navigation and the added flexibility of LINA DAC.

Balance Control

Designing a balance control feature for LINA, in conjunction with the newly integrated volume control, presented an exciting opportunity to further enhance the user experience. Understanding the importance of balance adjustments in creating an immersive and personalised audio environment, we embarked on a meticulous design process.

Drawing from the insights gathered during the UI exploration workshop, we recognised the significance of providing users with intuitive and accessible control over the audio balance. Leveraging the existing framework of the LINA user interface, we strategised to seamlessly incorporate the balance control feature within the device settings menu, ensuring its visibility and ease of access for users.

To optimise the visual representation of the balance control, we employed a user-friendly slider mechanism, enabling users to adjust the balance with precision and ease. Implementing visual cues and indicators, we ensured that users could readily perceive and track their adjustments, thereby creating a seamless and engaging interaction with the feature.

Design Iteration & High-fidelity Prototype

To determine the placement of the volume lock, font size selection, and language selection settings, we conducted a card sorting exercise with five participants. The consensus was that the volume lock should fall under device settings, font size selection should be accessible under display settings, and the addition of language selection in the interface was crucial to expand exposure to China.
High-fidelity prototype link
Learning from the last prototype, some of the users misunderstand that the screen was a touchscreen, and to add more user context, I integrated the product shot into the prototype, to enable participants to understand how the system works.

Product Shipment

Screen Resolution Challenge

One challenge we encountered during the product shipment phase was the limitation of the current screen resolution. While enhancing the visibility of the LINA display, we had to ensure that the changes would not negatively impact users with lower-resolution screens. Extensive testing and optimisation were required to maintain a consistent and clear user experience.
Font Size Conversion

To address the need for specific font sizes, we decided to convert the entire set of fonts into PNG format. This allowed us to provide high-quality, scalable text that would adapt seamlessly to various screen sizes and resolutions.
Language Selection

Midway through the product development, dCS made the strategic decision to expand our market exposure to China. As a result, we introduced Chinese language support into the interface. This involved translation, localisation, and the addition of language selection within the settings, ensuring that the product would be accessible and user-friendly to a wider audience.

Taking advantage of my background, I also helped on translating some of the title and design the optimum font size for Chinese Characters.


The integration of volume control into LINA DAC marks a significant step forward in expanding the product's usability and reach. Through a collaborative design process that involved workshops, ideation, and user testing, we were able to address the key challenges and enhance the LINA user experience. The positive feedback received during user interviews has further validated the success of this project.

With this enhancement, LINA now appeals to a broader audience of audiophiles, catering to both headphone and speaker enthusiasts, while maintaining its reputation for delivering high-quality audio experiences. The project not only solved the initial design challenges but also opened up new possibilities for future improvements in LINA's functionality.

As we move forward, we remain committed to addressing challenges such as screen resolution limitations and ensuring that the user interface is optimized for all users. The addition of language selection, especially Chinese support, reflects our dedication to expanding LINA's market presence and providing a truly global audio experience. The journey to enhance LINA continues, and we are excited about the possibilities it brings to the world of audiophiles.
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