In a digital system how important it an analogue preamp?

Bigman80

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You invested in a load of measuring gear, Oliver? When did that happen?
When I stared to build phonostages, Paul.

Also, since 2016 ive take nearly everything that crosses my path to@Firebottle where we run the rule over the equipment. It's been very illuminating.

In recent times I've also gained access to more equipment and expertise from another UK hifi designer who has taught me a great deal.

Want to see my oscilloscope? It's a 16bit digital jobbie....very useful.

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Bigman80

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to quote the our now absent friend......."level matched" !
I have a preamp that I can change the gain with. Nothing else changes, except for one resistor being added to the circuit.

When I added gain, it created an emphasis on the leading edge and made the bass appear to hit harder.

I went from a factor of 2 to 8 and it seemed to change more per addition. I prefer the gain factor of 0, and have stayed there.

Gain. It has an effect.

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mtbmarkymark

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frantically rushes off to research the difference between gain and level......

 
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Bigman80

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I think I saw that on a business card pinned to a red telephone box, in Soho, in about 1979. 
I'm pleased you're enjoying your hi-fi journey. Just be careful where you point that thing...
Hahaha, nothing says "I love this hobby" like a probe in dangerous places......that's what I tell the wife anyway.

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Lawrence001

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Your preamp likely has gain, whereas most DAC based Volume controls don't.

This may explain the new found dynamism.



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I'm not sure it's as simple as this. An active pre amp can have a gain >1 but for normal listening levels with a power amp of normal sensitivity it's likely to be attenuating the DAC output a lot. Its ability to add gain itself that's not being used is unlikely to be the cause, but something about the circuit could be. The input (of the pre) and output impedances (of both) devices could play a part.

There's a never ending debate about the disadvantages of attenuating the signal only to amplify it again but if it adds dynamics it's clearly not a one way street.

Maybe someone with more knowledge than me could explain better.
 

Bigman80

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I'm not sure it's as simple as this. An active pre amp can have a gain >1 but for normal listening levels with a power amp of normal sensitivity it's likely to be attenuating the DAC output a lot. Its ability to add gain itself that's not being used is unlikely to be the cause, but something about the circuit could be. The input (of the pre) and output impedances (of both) devices could play a part.

There's a never ending debate about the disadvantages of attenuating the signal only to amplify it again but if it adds dynamics it's clearly not a one way street.

Maybe someone with more knowledge than me could explain better.
Could also be a better impedance match.

It's impossible to really know without employing the knowledge of one of my go to gurus, but like I always say, if you like what you're hearing, it doesn't matter why....just enjoy it.




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tuga

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I'm not sure it's as simple as this. An active pre amp can have a gain >1 but for normal listening levels with a power amp of normal sensitivity it's likely to be attenuating the DAC output a lot. Its ability to add gain itself that's not being used is unlikely to be the cause, but something about the circuit could be. The input (of the pre) and output impedances (of both) devices could play a part.

There's a never ending debate about the disadvantages of attenuating the signal only to amplify it again but if it adds dynamics it's clearly not a one way street.

Maybe someone with more knowledge than me could explain better.
Are you saying that playing around with attenuation and gain will change the dynamic range of the signal, or just about perceived "dynamics"?

 

Nopiano

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Sheer speculation on my part…but having just last week attended my first full orchestral concert for almost two years, the colour, vividness, character and power of even a flute, let alone a cello or a tuba.  Wow!  

Admittedly, the vivid scoring in Prokofiev’s second suite from Romeo & Juliet is stunning, but everything seemed like, CinemaScope, IMAX, Dolby Atmos times ten, compared with home audio.  It makes me wonder if adding something, whether we call it distortion, seasoning or moussaka, is an attempt to remind us of the drama and scale of the live event.  After all, a normal domestic system can only hint at this, albeit persuasively if chosen with care. 

 
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tuga

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Sheer speculation on my part…but having just last week attended my first full orchestral concert for almost two years, the colour, vividness, character and power or even a flute, let alone a cello or a tuba.  Wow!  

Admittedly, the vivid scoring in Prokofiev’s second suite from Romeo & Juliet is stunning, but everything seemed like, CinemaScope, IMAX, Dolby Atmos times ten, compared with home audio.  It makes me wonder if adding something, whether we call it distortion, seasoning or moussaka, is an attempt to remind us of the drama and scale of the live event.  After all, a normal domestic system can only hint at this, albeit persuasively if chosen with care. 
I agree with this. Stereo has significant limitations, and if some types of distortion help people to connect with the music then they should go for them. Same with speaker dispersion, some like dipoles, a few like omnis, many are somewhere in between.

@JANDL100 was hinting earlier that people who "prioritise an emotional connection as opposed to an intellectual one" prefer a more euphonic sound. I don't agree with this. I think that people who prefer a more euphonic sound do so because it sounds better, more involving, etc. to them than a more accurate presentation. It's all too easy to think "this guy's a techie and likes measurements so he must prefer a more intellectual connection"...

 
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JANDL100

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Sheer speculation on my part…but having just last week attended my first full orchestral concert for almost two years, the colour, vividness, character and power of even a flute, let alone a cello or a tuba.  Wow!  

Admittedly, the vivid scoring in Prokofiev’s second suite from Romeo & Juliet is stunning, but everything seemed like, CinemaScope, IMAX, Dolby Atmos times ten, compared with home audio.  It makes me wonder if adding something, whether we call it distortion, seasoning or moussaka, is an attempt to remind us of the drama and scale of the live event.  After all, a normal domestic system can only hint at this, albeit persuasively if chosen with care. 
Exactly this. 

Real music is far more vivid than hifi systems convey. 

Is that vividness hiding in the recordings and the best hifi allows more of this through than other components do? 

Some folks might miss-label this as euphonic whereas actually it's just being more transparent to the original performance and, hopefully, recording. 

Bland is the hifi normal state, and seems often to be assumed to be accurate. I think that components that can take you beyond this misconception are to be treasured. 

Perhaps pizzaz isn't being added by a euphonic component, it's there in the recording but is usually filtered out by the hifi. 

 
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tuga

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Exactly this. 

Real music is far more vivid than hifi systems convey. 

Is that vividness hiding in the recordings and the best hifi allows more of this through than other components do? 

Some folks might miss-label this as euphonic whereas actually it's just being more transparent to the original performance and, hopefully, recording. 

Bland is the hifi normal state, and seems often to be assumed to be accurate. I think that components that can take you beyond this misconception are to be treasured. 

Pizzaz isn't being added by a euphonic component, it's there in the recording but is usually filtered out by the hifi. 
How can a system which distorts the signal be more "transparent" to the recording (I presume you mean the signal and not the performance)?

The signal is all we have and thus the only accuracy possible is to the signal. Not only that but stereo through speakers is unable to reconstruct the original soundfield as it was captured by the mics. And you can only capture the original soundfield with a pair of mics, which rules out most recordings anyway.

So what we get is a representation of reality, an illusion, like a photograph is an illusion, one which requires a degree of abstraction from the viewer in order to "make sense". And it's a flawed illusion, which I presume is why you call it "bland".

What I find interesting is that for some people the "bland" illusion is enough to convey emotion and make the connection whilst for others it is manifestly insuficent.

 

tuga

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Pizzaz isn't being added by a euphonic component, it's there in the recording but is usually filtered out by the hifi.
Playing around with EQ / frequency response will produce a whole lot of different effects which will change how we perceive sound, and thus music (see link below). But you're not letting through the "pizzaz", you're adulterating the recorded sound in order to make it more "appealing".

https://alexiy.nl/eq/

Reverb is another good example:

 

Bokke

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Your preamp likely has gain, whereas most DAC based Volume controls don't.

This may explain the new found dynamism.



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that's what i mentioned pages ago about the original benchmark remark but got interpreted as removing power amps  - how that happened -no-one will ever know.

 
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Bokke

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Sheer speculation on my part…but having just last week attended my first full orchestral concert for almost two years, the colour, vividness, character and power of even a flute, let alone a cello or a tuba.  Wow!  

Admittedly, the vivid scoring in Prokofiev’s second suite from Romeo & Juliet is stunning, but everything seemed like, CinemaScope, IMAX, Dolby Atmos times ten, compared with home audio.  It makes me wonder if adding something, whether we call it distortion, seasoning or moussaka, is an attempt to remind us of the drama and scale of the live event.  After all, a normal domestic system can only hint at this, albeit persuasively if chosen with care. 
I watched The last dual and the sound was awesome - I put it down to the amount of sheer power behind all those speakers 

 

Bigman80

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that's what i mentioned pages ago about the original benchmark remark but got interpreted as removing power amps  - how that happened -no-one will ever know.
I apologize, I haven't read the entire thread.

I only chimed in to add the bit on TVCs and SUTs.

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Bokke

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I apologize, I haven't read the entire thread.

I only chimed in to add the bit on TVCs and SUTs.

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no i appreciated the sense - if you open up the benchmark it has 3 gain settings - I suspected that the pre amp had higher gain so perceived to be more dynamic

thanks 🤣

 
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Camverton

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But unless you were at the mastering session it’s just a guess though. 
Isn’t that the argument you use against objectivists? If you hadn’t cherry picked my post it should have been clear that I don’t fall into that camp.

I couldn’t give a flying fig if what I hear is defined as accurate as long it gives me an “illusion” to my ears of performers playing music in front of me. Quite obviously what I hear is highly unlikely to sound the same as in the mastering session let alone the concert hall, but if the recording and hifi fool me into thinking I’m listening to the original performance, particularly with small scale acoustic classical, than job done. The whole thing is an illusion and it is what we think we hear that really matters.

Some may like their hifi to add a touch of flavour, others not; neither is right or wrong, so much as being what works for any individual.

 

tuga

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no i appreciated the sense - if you open up the benchmark it has 3 gain settings - I suspected that the pre amp had higher gain so perceived to be more dynamic

thanks 🤣
The RME DAC has adjustable output-level settings too, but I can just change the fixed ouput level on HQPlayer and get the same effect:



[SIZE=10pt]To maintain the full dynamic range within the best operating level, discrete 4-stage reference level settings were realized for maximum dynamic range (-5, +1, +7, +13 dBu). [/SIZE]


 
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