Analyzing DACs

As I am new to the hifi hobby, reading various product reviews and noting the details of the test environment have made me very confused.  I understand Stereophile is the hifi bible. In the publication’s DAC published tests the reviewers almost always tested the DAC connected directly to the amplifier. I think I understand why—nothing in the chain influencing the DAC sound. Is that the correct assumption? If that’s the case why incorporate a preamp if the DAC has a preamp section that is a common feature even on high end DACs? I’m in the market for a new DAC. I’m trying to avoid unnecessary components if possible. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.  


@thespeakerdude This has been my assessment of ASR for quite a while and I've posted it many times before.  As you can see in this thread, there are many that agree with me, in fact I'd say the majority of posters here agree with me.  There is a vocal minority that follow them like a cult.  I hope you eventually see them for what they are.  Best of luck.

They don't have advertising @carlsbad. Think what you may of them, they don't sell clicks. Spreading false information is not what good people do.​​​​

I spent some time on youtube university learning more about DAC technologies. I found British Audiophile's review of the Spring 3 DAC interesting. I'm not an engineer by trade, but through my experience as a tech analyst in finance I understood most of his thoughts on the different tech inside the DAC.  I wonder how much time is spent understanding the guts of the DAC versus reading reviews. In any case, more food for thought. 🤔

Have a PS Audio amp and preamp, dac sounds better without the preamp, dac sound much fuller with better clarity. . Have a Don Sachs Amp and preamp, dac sounds more lifeless. Have a Conrad Johnson cav45 S2 it has no preamp/control amp. It sounds big and full on Denafrips dac but can sound week if not enough gain on phono preamp or cartridge. I think only way to know is plug it up and turn up the volume and see what happens. Buying blind can be problematic.

Meant to say dac going directly into Don Sachs sounds lifeless without the preamp.