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.  


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. . 


I resisted buying a preamp for a long time.  I eventually did and was surprised how it improved the sound.  I don't know why, it made an improvement in definition and/or forcefulness.  I didn't spend a ton either.  I bought a used Bryston BP25 for $1000 about 15 years ago.  It works as well today as it did when I got it.  Everyone should at least try it.  Parasound, Schiit and I'm sure others make good cheap preamps.


So you enjoy the coloration provided by the Pre.

It’s more likely that they enjoy the improved performance due to better impedance matching, a better output stage, and better ability to drive an amplifier. I’ll think you’ll be standing alone in this line.

So an integrated amp is a bad idea to? This may not a good way to think about preamps but it seems to me if you stay with the same brand the synergy should be there…there’s a lot of convenience using a preamp…turntable, cd player and two dacs hooked to mine…

‘I definitely would like to hear more on this subject…

@soix  My DAC has at least twice the signal boost of the preamp and I have tried using the DAC to biamp directly to the speakers with acceptable results. However like others I find using a preamp gives a richer sound but there is not a lot in it and if anything omitting the tube pre gives a quieter darker background.