DAC as pre amp

This post is just a brief for posterity sake in regards to the the significance of a good pre.  As I have stated in other threads over the last few years , when the subject arise,  I occasionally remove my pre from the chain and run my Wadia 321 as the pre.  I always find my way back to my dedicated pre.  I got some Quad Z-4s awhile back and after a recent post regarding the DAC direct question I decided to try again.  This round the improvement was even more dramatic with the dedicated pre and the Quads. My modest system is good enough for my level of listening sophistication.  but If I ever decided to upgrade a component in the future , the pre would be the unit I would explore.   Another member stated that a good pre will ad a "richness" to the sound.  I think that is exactly what I hear.  


Or maybe the DAC doesn’t provide enough signal boost for the amp to work optimally.  Either way, the only thing that matters is that the OP likes what he hears. 

@soix yeah i have considered the pre in the Wadia just ain't that good. 

@carlsbad2 yeah call it what you want.

Full disclosure: The pre is the only component with valves, the rest is solid state. Is it the NOS matched Mullards I got from Andy's Tube Services?  I don't know but I am satisfied with the configuration at this point, but also intrigued. 

Maybe someday collapse the DAC into a nice pre with both.  The cool thing is I am learning more and more as I go and my taste in music (evolved I would like to think) over time. 

I have a project pre box s2 digital and I use it for a dac. It has a volume knob but I ask myself how much could they have possibly invested in this attenuator and still come in at $400? 

Thank you for sharing your experience. 

This is the most common experience, but having it documented is really helpful to those who have just joined high end audio and never experienced a high end preamp, or swapped them out without proper comparison. .