The Best Preamp is no Preamp?

So recently I've discovered the possibility of completely removing my preamp from my rig. I've never heard or considered this before, so much audio tradition... But in going directly from DAC to amplifier the sound quality is absolutely incredible, instantly had me grinning. Using music server to Chord M Scaler to Chord Qutest (cut out Marantz SR5015) to go directly to dual Emotiva XPA-DR1 monoblocks, to GR Research's 24 strand speaker wire to Magnepan 1.7i's.  Only difference is running volume on server vs Marantz remote, sound quality is the biggest jump I've ever heard with any gear.

Have you guys had experience cutting out the preamp from your rig? What's your thoughts?




What is your system? There is a place under your userID to put photos and ID your components.

‘What was your system and what did you swap out?


This would be really helpful to understand your experience.

Well if you want to experiment with a good active preamp it has probably never been cheaper.You can try /buy one of the cheap Chinese clone preamps like the FM Acoustics 155 copies for about $300 on Ali Express.That is s a superb sounding  active preamp in my opinion.It may not improve the sound of every power amp because there are always preamp/power amp synergies  but suspect it will be a considerable improvement on most .I am talking at least $5000 preamp sound quality.The real thing sold for more like $20,000.

I would normally not recommend things like that but for the sake of killing off the myth that the best preamp is no preamp it is arguably justifiable. I believe that is also an older design on which the patent has expired so anybody can copy it.

To ghdprentice:

My system is as follows.

CD player   Musical Fidelity A3.2 CD (made in 2003 in England)

Turn table   Sansui SR 929 (Denon DL-103R)

Preamp      Onkyo Integra P304 (ca. 33 years old, Japan)

Power amp  Yamaha MX-1 (old, old, 200 watt per channel)

                Cayin 860 mono blocks (4 x EL 34 each)

Speaker      Vienna Mahler (120 lbs each)

All cables     Monster (interconnect, speaker)

Vol. Control  SCHIIT SYS


I don't use the Onkyo as a preamp any more, but use for only phono section.

I used to own CJ tube preamp, Plinius preamp, Brystone Preamp, Jeff Roland preamp, etc. But the onkyo does its jot close to the preamps by 90-95%. So, I sold all preamps, keep the Onkyo only. Actually, 2 years ago, I purchased the Onkyo P304 one more from ebay. I used both Onkyos. I made one Onkyo as one channel combining two channel using mono-making Y-cable. Anyway, using 2 Onkyos, S/N (signal to noise ratio) was better, but I found no advantage regarding sound quality.


Using the SCHIIT vol. control as a passive preamp, I found my music became a lot better.

(1) Mid - high      very clear, not shrill, not analytical, just like piano is playing in front of me, Trumpet = I could hear metallic feeling just like when I was in high school brass band,...

(2) Bass       exaggerated booming is gone, but true bass from the source was heard. If you like some sound (boob, boob, boom), then I can not discuss my feeling with you.

(3) True to the source music       less component means less additives to the sound. So, if the source music is great, I can feel great. If not good, I hear un-musical sound.


I can still remember that Herbert von Karajan said music from CD player was better than that of turntable. He mentioned that to engineers of CD player-developing, 1980s. At the time, so-called audio reviewers said the CD music was so analytical. I think the reviewers barely attended actual concerts, compared to Karajan. Karajan was involved in CD format such as how many minutes in a single CD, etc. I believe Karajan preference (favoring CD against analog) simply because he spent a lot of time in actual performance, not because he was a very famous conductor. 

We have to spend many $ to buy expensive gears.

Expensive power cable = I think this is the most unnecessary item.


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