McIntosh D100 variable vs fixed outs soundstage

Due to a non-ideal series of purchases, trade-ins, etc in building my new system, I have ended up with a McIntosh D100, MA6300 integrated (used as preamp), and MC275 Mk. VI power amp.

In experimenting with the D100 variable outs fed directly into the MC275 versus feeding the fixed outs into my MA6300 then pre-outs to the MC275 I believe I am perceiving a greater depth to the soundstage and an overall more pleasing sound when when the D100 is fed through the MA6300 on it's way to the power amp. I'm feeding balanced to the MA6300 and single ended to the MC275 (seems to be general consensus that the 275 does best with single ended inputs).

I'm wondering if anyone else has experimented with the variable vs fixed outs on the D100. I'm also considering trading the MA6300 back in towards a proper pre-amp since I'm now using the MC275 as the power amp. I'm wondering if anyone could make a recommendation on which models I may consider. I'd also consider taking the D100 in with the MA6300 if one of the available preamps could effectively combine the two feature sets without significant compromise in sound quality or character. According to the response I got from McIntosh on this, none of the current preamp models match the D100 in terms of technical performance. What do ya'll think?
I think you did a really good job in figuring all this out for yourself. Trust the results you came up with. Trading the 6300 in for a preamp seems like a pretty safe bet. It makes sense.
Let the 6300 go and hop into a new pre amp. I like Mc stuff myself for the sound and features. I would listen and compare for myself if possible is you chose to go with Mc gear again looking at the preamps with and without the DAC built in.
C2500 or C220 tube preamps are without the digital inputs. What about the C48 that might work as well? It's solid state with 5 eq controls.
I agree that the MA6300 isn't needed any longer.

The C2500 is a tube preamp with MM/MC phono inputs and a DAC section - that is the enhancement over the C2300. C2300 sounds wonderful (to my ears anyway) and was very well reviewed.

C48 and C50 both have MM/MC phono and DACs; C50 has more EQ bands and gets meters. Not sure if there are enhancements to the DAC section in the C50 over the C48 - haven't checked the specs. My C50 is one of the best purchases I've ever made.

Note the pass-thru feature could allow you to send variable output from the D100 directly through one of the preamps. That could offer you more flexibility than you currently have.

All units are in current production, so you can easily compare specifications on the McIntosh Website.
When you were using the variable outputs of the D100, what settings of its volume control did you typically use?

If you were using relatively low settings (i.e., large amounts of attenuation), and if (as seems likely) its volume control function is implemented in the digital domain, you may find that the sonic character of the variable outputs would be much better if you were able to use settings closer to the top of its range. A way of accomplishing that would be to put a pair of Rothwell attenuators at the inputs of the MC275. You would select either the 10 db or 20 db version of the attenuators depending on how far down you presently have to set the volume control when using the D100's variable outputs.

Considering the modest cost, that seems to me to be an experiment that is worth considering, before investing in a new preamp. Especially if you presently have to set the D100's volume control in the lower part of its range.

Some people have reported adverse effects on dynamics when using the Rothwells, but many others (including me) have used them with no perceivable side-effects.

-- Al
Do we know if the variable output on the MCD 550 is analog or handled digitally?