DACs that do well without a preamp

I am looking for a DAC to feed my DNA-1 gold power amp directly, streaming Qobuz or Tidal from a Bluesound Vault. Budget is $1-2K; would consider used, if worthwhile. Current contenders are Benchmark 3 HGC, Brooklyn DAC+, Gustard x26 pro, Holo Spring 3, Musetec 004 and Pontus ii. Looking for clean, detailed, uncolored sound that "lifts the veil". What are the qualities I should look for to drive an amp well, without a pre?

Hey @mitch2, that is what I said:  "A good pre amp just sounds better"

and @azwill I have tried my Tambaqui directly vs through my Audionet Preamp and it is much nicer through the preamp.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Problem with DAC volume controls is they are either digital, and sound lifeless and flat, or they are a budget/space restricted analog volume control jammed into the DAC as an afterthought.

That's why a good pre-amp always sounds better. But I would prefer one less box, not to mention one less expensive power cable and interconnect.

So I have high hopes for the new LEEDH Processing, digital volume that is truly lossless. Instead of infinite fractions used to meet specific DB steps, it used whole numbers only. So far only Soulution (way out my price range) and Lumin (much more reasonable) are using it. All reports say it competes well with dedicated pre-amps.

It would be great to see LEEDH filter down to the 2-4k DAC market.

Another approach where built-in attenuators are deemed not good enough is to simply get a high quality passive, since high output voltage and low output impedance of most high end dacs make this feasible, provided cable runs are short. The additional active components of a pre tend to add distortion in most cases.

@agisthos : agreed in most cases, exceptions though confirm the rule: e.g. Antelope Zodiac, Sonnet, DCS, et al

The Lumin D2 offers LEEDH and is a little over 2 grand.  You can find a used one with an S-Booster for under that #.  With the upgraded power supply it’s an absolute steel at that price relative to performance and features.  Lumin offers one of the best volume solutions, DAC to amp but to echo others comments, my experience is a good Pre has always sounded better, I had the D2 with S-booster.  Went the separates route, streamer & tube R2R DAC.  Wouldn’t hesitate to buy another Lumin.  Their build quality and commitment to sound quality above all else in there design, implementation is extremely tough to beat.  The T2 is a bargain used or demo’d with the T3 having launched.  Good luck,