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In a digital system how important it an analogue preamp?


DomT
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20 minutes ago, tuga said:

Sorry, I meant to write "into the power amp". But is it that difficult to get my point, considering that a line level signal won't drive speakers (unless you're using a supermagic Chord DAC)?

My point still stands: dropping extra boxes into the signal path will degrade the signal (unless one believes that adequately designed solid state equipment is "transparent") and thus, considering the likelyhood of the ARC's circuit adding euphony then in my view you'd be better off .

Also for an apples to apples comparison one has to remove the attenuator/pot extra variable from the equation, which is why I suggested a comparison between the Benchmark straight into a power amp vs. placing the ARC in between the two only as a "buffer", a bit like the Musical Fidelity X-10.

The equipment is what the equipment is and I am using it as intended by the manufacturer.

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4 minutes ago, DomT said:

You are suggesting for me to avoid the power amp stage

Am I? You've confused me now...

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2 hours ago, tuga said:

Am I? You've confused me now...

No I have not confused you you have seriously confused yourself. You wrote 'to avoid the power amp' when you wrote connect Preamp Tape Out to ATC speakers.

You also repeatedly suggested that I try an ARC DAC when I have only just bought another Benchmark DAC and never said that I was unhappy with it.  The thread was about preamp or no preamp in my existing chain.

IMG_1568.thumb.jpeg.aae3d2e69c4ce29966422c7d58515193.jpeg

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52 minutes ago, DomT said:

No I have not confused you you have seriously confused yourself. You wrote 'to avoid the power amp' when you wrote connect Preamp Tape Out to ATC speakers.

You also repeatedly suggested that I try an ARC DAC when I have only just bought another Benchmark DAC and never said that I was unhappy with it.  The thread was about preamp or no preamp in my existing chain.

IMG_1568.thumb.jpeg.aae3d2e69c4ce29966422c7d58515193.jpeg

You replied to the post where I said that it was a mistake. And that it should have been obvious to anyone...

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57 minutes ago, DomT said:

The thread was about preamp or no preamp in my existing chain.

Maybe you should re-title the topic to something like

In my digital system how important it an analogue preamp to my ears?

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2 minutes ago, tuga said:

Maybe you should re-title the topic to something like

In my digital system how important it an analogue preamp to my ears?

you can always start your own thread....

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My own experience has been similar to DomT's but wHIZZY makes a good point about it being difficult to generalise. I have had active ATC 50's for a couple of years now and spent much of lockdown trying various DAC's and Preamps. I have found that my digital front end often sounds better with a preamp despite the DAC's that i have tried ( Dave, RME and Weiss 501 ) all having good quality volume controls built in. In my experience a good preamp can add drive and dynamics.

Not every preamp has been a success however. A krell 222 added drive and dynamics to but also a slight coarseness and lack of transparency on balance i prefered DAC direct to this.  A Music First Classic v2 was ultra transparent but didn't add drive in my setup.  A Bel Canto Pre 3 VBS was excellent but i think my current PS Audio BHK will be a keeper since it combines adding drive & dynamics with a touch of valve magic ( AKA euphonic coloration ) which i enjoy.

Having had a visit from an audiophile friend recently i have been reminded how personal taste has the capacity to alter what is prefered so YMMV

Edited by mtbmarkymark
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My only experience using a dac as a pre amp was with my brother's dCS Rossini, it sounded great with both a VTL (valve) and Accustic Arts mono's (ss) power amps.  His ARC pre was no longer needed and sold, which suggests to me, if the volume control on the dac is a 'good un', maybe you no longer need a pre amp.

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Euphonic colouration and distortion? Maybe. Maybe not.

What that doesn't explain, as far as I can see, is how a good active (or possibly passive of some types) preamp can add to the apparent illusion of the soundstage by making it seem larger in every direction.

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9 hours ago, mtbmarkymark said:

My own experience has been similar to DomT's but wHIZZY makes a good point about it being difficult to generalise. I have had active ATC 50's for a couple of years now and spent much of lockdown trying various DAC's and Preamps. I have found that my digital front end often sounds better with a preamp despite the DAC's that i have tried ( Dave, RME and Weiss 501 ) all having good quality volume controls built in. In my experience a good preamp can add drive and dynamics.

The ‘drive and dynamics’ you refer to is almost certainly due to the pre amp departing from the accuracy of the original recording. If you prefer that then of course that is fine. (I am beginning to sound like Tuga!)

9 hours ago, mtbmarkymark said:

Not every preamp has been a success however. A krell 222 added drive and dynamics to but also a slight coarseness and lack of transparency on balance i prefered DAC direct to this.  A Music First Classic v2 was ultra transparent but didn't add drive in my setup

The reason the Music First did not add drive is because as a pre amp it is ultra transparent and truthful to the musical signal. 

People like preamps because they colour the sound (by and large except for Music First etc).

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9 hours ago, mtbmarkymark said:

My own experience has been similar to DomT's but wHIZZY makes a good point about it being difficult to generalise. I have had active ATC 50's for a couple of years now and spent much of lockdown trying various DAC's and Preamps. I have found that my digital front end often sounds better with a preamp despite the DAC's that i have tried ( Dave, RME and Weiss 501 ) all having good quality volume controls built in. In my experience a good preamp can add drive and dynamics.

Not every preamp has been a success however. A krell 222 added drive and dynamics to but also a slight coarseness and lack of transparency on balance i prefered DAC direct to this.  A Music First Classic v2 was ultra transparent but didn't add drive in my setup.  A Bel Canto Pre 3 VBS was excellent but i think my current PS Audio BHK will be a keeper since it adds combines adding drive / dynamics to a touch of valve magic ( AKA euphonic coloration ) which i enjoy.

Having had a visit from an audiophile friend recently i have been reminded how personal taste has the capacity to alter what is prefered so YMMV

A lot of  active ATC owners enjoy the combination of a  valve pre amp connected.  Whenever I've been listening it's been direct though dac as a pre amp and never found anything wrong or missing at all but then also never compared to something else. I've never even thought about valve amps and only listened to a few. But with my own speakers I can experiment the different drivers so I'm very keen.

Edited by Bokke
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1 hour ago, Fourlegs said:

... The reason the Music First did not add drive is because as a pre amp it is ultra transparent and truthful to the musical signal. 

.. People like preamps because they colour the sound (by and large except for Music First etc).

 I don't think that's correct. 

Preamps don't add drive, but they can take it away. Oh boy, can they take it away! And ime that's what passive preamps usually/mostly/always do. 

Imo preamps are the most problematic of hifi electronics. They can change the signal in so many ways, musically they can be the most intrusive. 

In my experience, a good active pre is always better than a passive pre. But that comes down to my own musical priorities ; I'll always take the retaining of musical "pizzaz" or in the room presence over the last degree of tonal accuracy or resolution. It's what brings music to life for me. It's what makes it seem that real musicians are playing. 

Edited by JANDL100
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My only experience of not using a preamp is with the Topping E30 in the second system.  The sound is a lot better through the NVA P20 passive pre amp.  The improvement is not subtle.

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