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!




Beyond a volume control and component switching a preamp can help with matching the impedance between the source components and the power amplifier for optimal signal transfer. I think the reason some folks report improvement with a separate preamp is their DAC preamp or power amp are not compatible. Likely the power amp has too low input impedance relative to the DAC  preamp.


Now if you can figure out how to eliminate the power amp you will have it made. But honestly it depends on the associated equipment if you can successfully eliminate the preamp. My take on this that the preamp is generally the most important component in ones system and inevitably will have the biggest impact on the end result.

Currently, I am not using my Luminous unit, which I have raved about on these pages for years. Purchasing a very fine, robustly built rawsonte F4, has forced me to use a preamp in my system. Of the many preamps I own, I am enjoying, so very much, the combination of the F4 with my Usher P307A. On occasion, I miss the remote volume, but the " presentation " is uncanny, to anything I have experienced before, through my system. The First Watt F4, might be the perfect amplifier. I now believe, how important the preamp is. I am not kidding. I have never experienced such dynamic range, such romantic precision, such attack, such force, such power, such immediacy, such rhythm, such details, such involvement. As this is a system ( F4 ) to keep, I will let go of my Luminous. Enjoy ! MrD.

Clearly the OP is smitten with going direct to amps.  That's great.  Most of our audio experiences / revelations are pretty individual.  Declaring that no preamp is the end all be all is just that.  Individual/specific/system etc......

I've tried it, and at least for me and my room, gear, experience, a very good pre-amp is an absolute crucial component.  No way am I going without one,  Knock yourself out with dac direct if that is what makes one happy - that's all that matters