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.  


The problems not enough gain to drive you amp to full output. The majority of DAC's don't have a volume control or input for others components. Preamp should be able to drive long cables not a DAC. All DAC have an analog output and it a matter of changing resistors in there feedback loop to increase the gain.  I have done this before, however the sound difference was still improve with an extra gain stage/ preamp. 

The vast majority of DACs are just not as good as a dedicated preamp. I know the skeptics out there will say digital is digital, but it's more complicated than that. The quality of the gain is what missing on DACs and the quality of that analog signal to your amp matters a lot.

I have not heard a DAC that was as good as my current 2 preamps. Though the Lumin X1 with the Leedh volume control (that I owned) was as good, except at very low volume. 

My 2 preamps are the Benchmark LA4 and Holo Serene. You will be hard pressed to find a more quieter, better measuring, and sonically neutral preamp.

Thing is you need to have the volume above 88% and set the gain on the amp to match because Wadia volume control affects resolution. I used my Wadia 521 / 571 combination direct to amp and found coloration with every preamp in the chain. Direct is best.  Presently I also prefer my MSB DAC direct to amp. 

carlsbad2 = this man said it absolutely right.

pre-amp = long time ago, when only phono signal was only a source (with am, fm radios), the signal was too weak, so pre-amplification was needed before any power amp.

no more we need the pre. b/c any dac or cd player makes signals strong enough. now, we have to change the name of ¨pre-amp¨ to ¨control amp¨.

maybe, ¨control amp with slight signal modification¨.

it is truly sad there are people who like the modified sound !!!

when you eat some bbq meat, somebody likes a bbq with lots of sauce. actually the guy enjoys the sauce rather than the meat itself.

go and listen real live music, then you can realize that how much your home audio sound different from the live sound, in terms of vividness.


rich sound = usually, original sound + artificial sound produced by audio electronics as a by-product, usually base frequency.

whenever i hear somebody likes the rich sound improved by a new pre-amp, i have no intention to talk with the person.