Eliminated my preamp with amazing results

I pulled my preamp out completely. The result's were not subtle. 

For those who stream music only... I was going from my laptop... to my DAC...to my preamp...to my amp. My preamps ONLY function was volume control. Source control not needed.

I started using Audirvana recently which comes with it's own high quality 64 bit volume control that was far better than the potentiometer in my preamp. It dawned on me that I could control volume using Audirvana and plug my DAC directly into the amp and bypass the preamp altogether. (Roon and Jriver also have excellent volume controllers) Note: Audirvana has an app download on a tablet/phone so it acts like a remote control. I'm loving it!

This not only eliminated the preamps volume control but it took out ALL the electronics associated in a preamp including some cables. A FAR more direct route. However, you must use caution and make sure the volume is controlled properly in the software since the amp will be fed wide open volume.

Having experimented with 'passive' preamps in the past (McCormack TLC-1) I thought the sound would possibly lose dynamics and bass response would suffer. WRONG!

The results were...Shocking!! Immediately the extended depth of the image was noticeably deeper. Background darker. The highs are the best I've ever heard. Pristine. The bass was dynamic, tight and most of all 'textured' in a way I never heard before. As I stated earlier the results are NOT subtle! 

This is an experiment that took a few minutes to set up and yielded the best performance improvement of ANY other tweak I've ever tried. Not anything like using a passive preamp.

Equipment used...  Peachtree DAC-itx. 

                               Preamps...McCormack TLC-1 and Melos tube preamp.

                               Amp is McCormack DNA 0.5

Understand that different components will have different interactions with each other. Your results may vary. However, IF you don't like it, it takes just a few minutes to put the preamp back in the system. Nothing to lose and lot's to gain. After hearing this, I will NEVER go back to using a preamp. 

Good luck!




I really REALLY like my Tortuga Audio LDR attenuator for much the same reasons.

It`s crystal clear, has nice sound staging etc etc... Runs off the grid with a battery

which brought a blacker background to the mix.

Overlooked way too often !



Oh yes the Dude preamp! I miss mine also. I had a fully tricked out one that Paul helped me to upgrade. 


I have experimented with this countless times, and I have found only a few DACs under $15K with a built-in preamp stage or volume control that sound better without a quality preamp in the chain.

If my memory is correct you’ve mentioned that the T+A DAC 200 preamp section is pretty good. What other DACs volume control or preamp section impressed you?

@toro3 Good memory. Yes, the DAC 200’s preamp stage is very good, even though I get better results setting it to line out and using the T+A HV series preamplification. On its own, the DAC 200’s preamp stage will compete with standalone preamps in the $3K range. 

I honestly haven’t come across a lot of DACs with great preamp and volume stages. I absolutely hated the one on the Tambaqui, even if the DAC itself is quite good. Lampizator makes very good ones, say for the Baltic 3 and 4 and above. Though it has a high quality streamer/server built in as well, the Aurender A20 ans A30 units are really strong performers and sound great hooked up directly to an amp. The performance of those units far surpass the preamp stage and volume control of the A15. For the Meitner MA3 and Cambridge EDGE NQ, I actually really like both units as a DAC with volume control. The MA3 is a DAC first, where the EDGE NQ is a preamp first, but with both units I don’t like their built in streaming performance. 

I want to be candid that I am an authorized dealer T+A, Aurender and Cambridge Audio. I have no affiliation with Mola Mola, Lampizator and Meitner/EMM.

Get rid of your noisy laptop and buy a true far cleaner server streamer 

like a innuos ,or something with a quality linear power supply night and day better then a laptop .that’s a for sure.