In a digital system how important it an analogue preamp?

Bodgit

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Wouldn’t mind trying a good pre amp in my system, as currently have the Wadia 861 direct into the power amps.

 

Nopiano

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I’ve never tried any system myself without a preamp because I’ve never owned a setup with a suitable configuration.  But when I was researching Linn streamers there were numerous Linn owners with the top-level Klimax pre-power configuration who felt something was lost when using a Linn streamer (with a digital volume) direct into their power amp.  Later streamers from this marque have full preamps inbuilt, perhaps for this reason.  

Your subjective impression of ‘drive’ is exactly what I’ve read too.  I’ve no obvious explanation other than greater gain and/or impedance matching as already suggested. 

 
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tuga

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The ARC SP17 is far from euphonic and the modern ARC sound is criticised by some for not being euphoric. It’s the drive and energy that the SP17 has over the Benchmark that I like as I have said now a few times in this thread. 

I don’t understand your point about using the tape output of the SP17. What do you expect it to do in terms of audio quality? Given that it’s a fixed signal and Benchmark designed the volume control to be optimised in the higher volume range the audio volume is likely to be very loud and unusable. 
Benchmark equipment is known for it's measured transparency. If the ARC produces "drive and energy" then I suspect that it is "adding" to the signal.

Can you not adjust the output level in your DAC2?

 
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Andrei

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Tried dacs into power amps many times , yes ok but I always go back to analogue pre for musicality. We are all different but seems to make a big difference. 
+1.  I had a Wyred4Sound DAC that could be used as a pre-amp.  I can't put my finger on it but there just seemed something missing.  Well ... I suppose the pre-amp was missing! Seriously though the music seemed to lack body. 

 
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Bokke

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if you open up the benchmark - there should be jumper plug to change the gain to suit - check in your manual as ive got dac 3 not the 2 but suspect they identical.

just remember to discharge the static or you can do damage.

as an experiment - it may work for you

 
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DomT

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Benchmark equipment is known for it's measured transparency. If the ARC produces "drive and energy" then I suspect that it is "adding" to the signal.

Can you not adjust the output level in your DAC2?
The ARC may or may not be adding something but I find it very hard to believe that every musician/band/orchestra that I tested would be playing with so little conviction and that recordings would have diminished dynamics.

You didn't answer the question about not using a power amp. Your suggestion is curious given that you appear to be using the analogue outputs of your DAC (that has a preamp) to feed an integrated amp (at least that's what your Wam profile suggests).  

 

DomT

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if you open up the benchmark - there should be jumper plug to change the gain to suit - check in your manual as ive got dac 3 not the 2 but suspect they identical.

just remember to discharge the static or you can do damage.

as an experiment - it may work for you
Given that I don't have any complaints about my system with pre and power amps in what way would removing the power amp help me?

 

DomT

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Just looking at this again... and the Innuos, Benchmark and ATC's all have a reputation for being transparent, for telling it how it is. If you were seeking measured and heard accuracy, your "lifeless" (and ARC-less) system would satisfy the brief.

I recall asking on this forum about pre/power combos a few years ago when I though that the flavour of a system would come mainly from the power amp(s). I was gently educated about the overriding importance of the preamp in shaping the sound of a system... and your experience supports this.

Which is nice.
I have no interested in seeking a =n unobtainium theoretical idea of accuracy with my system; I just like music presented how I like it.  It's worth trying out other people's ideas though as you might like it.  In my case I was surprised that I ended up using ATC speakers.  I was also surprised about the positive contribution that the SP17 preamp made in my system.

Poweramps do make a big difference.  I did a comparison at home of Accuphase vs ARC vs Quad and the differences were very large and made a huge difference to the degree that it started to influence speaker choice ie I wouldn't pair Accuphase with ATC SCM11s.

 

Bokke

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Given that I don't have any complaints about my system with pre and power amps in what way would removing the power amp help me?
if you remove the power amp then you will get no sound from the speakers

Did you read what I wrote -has nothing to do with removing power amp

 
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tuga

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The ARC may or may not be adding something but I find it very hard to believe that every musician/band/orchestra that I tested would be playing with so little conviction and that recordings would have diminished dynamics.

You didn't answer the question about not using a power amp. Your suggestion is curious given that you appear to be using the analogue outputs of your DAC (that has a preamp) to feed an integrated amp (at least that's what your Wam profile suggests).  
Can you point out where that question was asked to me?

All DACs and CD players have an analogue stage. Some have a very "transparent" or accurate one, others one which is "designed" for a particular (euphonic) presentation. I suspect that adding the ARC between a DAC and a power amp will only serve to reduce accuracy (no electronic equipment is truly "transparent") but may in the process produce (listener dependent) euphony or pleasentness. If that's the case then personally I'd rather skip the pre-amp and get an ARC DAC instead.

I suggested that you remove the volume control to determine whether this was a potential reason for the ARC sounding "better" to your ears. IOW you would be using the digital volume control and only passing the analogue signal through the ARC's circuitry, and that way not conflating the effects of the two variables.

Fequency response effects are enough to produce effects like "air", "darkness", "speed", "tightness", "detail", perceived "dynamics", etc. Then there are effects produced by HD and IMD, noise-floor and dynamic compression, even jitter. All these effects are perceived as "better" by some people and some are used creatively by engineers and producers in the studio.

 
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hifinutt

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+1.  I had a Wyred4Sound DAC that could be used as a pre-amp.  I can't put my finger on it but there just seemed something missing.  Well ... I suppose the pre-amp was missing! Seriously though the music seemed to lack body. 
Had a friend with some pretty big speakers in a big room . he was running a similar dac into some nice power amps . sounded good , detailed and music was playing . ok 

we put the well known highly regarded pre amp in [ passive] immediately the soundstage widened , the windows started resonating and the bass was way bigger . 3 days later the guy contacted the manufacturer to buy one . 

 
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TheFlash

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I have no interested in seeking a =n unobtainium theoretical idea of accuracy with my system; I just like music presented how I like it.  It's worth trying out other people's ideas though as you might like it.  In my case I was surprised that I ended up using ATC speakers.  I was also surprised about the positive contribution that the SP17 preamp made in my system.

Poweramps do make a big difference.  I did a comparison at home of Accuphase vs ARC vs Quad and the differences were very large and made a huge difference to the degree that it started to influence speaker choice ie I wouldn't pair Accuphase with ATC SCM11s.
I know. But others do.

 
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DomT

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if you remove the power amp then you will get no sound from the speakers

Did you read what I wrote -has nothing to do with removing power amp
You responded to my point to Tuga about not using a power amp. 

 

DomT

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Can you point out where that question was asked to me?

All DACs and CD players have an analogue stage. Some have a very "transparent" or accurate one, others one which is "designed" for a particular (euphonic) presentation. I suspect that adding the ARC between a DAC and a power amp will only serve to reduce accuracy (no electronic equipment is truly "transparent") but may in the process produce (listener dependent) euphony or pleasentness. If that's the case then personally I'd rather skip the pre-amp and get an ARC DAC instead.

I suggested that you remove the volume control to determine whether this was a potential reason for the ARC sounding "better" to your ears. 
Well you said use tape out to ATC aka don’t use a power amp. I quoted you and asked you a question about your idea and you didn’t respond and I then pointed it out. I think that someone on here said something about people not reading posts properly. 

You also didn’t respond to why you appear to use the analog outputs of your RME into an integrated amp when you argue strongly that this is a bad idea although some people may like it.

 

wHIZZY

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Surely given the huge amount of different kit available and the possible combinations thereof, it's impossible to give a general opinion.  Currently, I feed my active speaker direct from the DAC, which sounds excellent. However that was not the case with my previous DAC. Most of us know from experience a component that sound superb in one system can fail to give its best in another.    Therefore experience tells me there in normally no 'rule' other than experimentation in order to achieve synergy of components.  That's obviously a personal view and doubtless many may feel differently. 

 

Nativebon

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There is a video from the you tuber Darko about the importance of putting a good preamp between DAC and power amp/powered speakers. Can't seem to fine the video, but if I remember correctly he did emphasise that DACS perform best as just DACS  and not as  preamps. 

He further explained that the pre amp sections of dacs do not have the dynamics and dimensionality as a dedicated preamp. From my experience I tend to agree.

 
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Bokke

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You responded to my point to Tuga about not using a power amp. 
no - I was responding to your original point about lack of dynamics/drive when using benchmark dac as a pre amp

 

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Wouldn’t mind trying a good pre amp in my system, as currently have the Wadia 861 direct into the power amps.
As your not that far away both myself and wizmax could probably pop over sometime with our pre amps, 1 passive and the other ss active for you to try in your system.

 
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