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Thread: pre-amp advice

  1. #1
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    pre-amp advice

    currently, i have engaged the volume control on my DAC and am running the analog output directly into my atm-300r SET power amp. using this method, i certainly cannot complain about the sound. however, i have always intended to add an active pre-amp to the system.

    before doing so, i wanted to get input from the AS community on it's experience here ... i have heard comments both pro and con as well as see many here who forgo a pre-amp in their system.

    the question in my mind is: generically speaking, do others gain SQ advantages in adding an active pre-amp to their system that outweigh the detriments of putting more cabling, connections, tubes, electronics, etc. into the signal path?

    all comments / thoughts / advice welcome ...thanks!!
    kanjiroba yak + roon rock > t+a dac8 dsd > air tight atc-5 + atm-300r almarro a318b > viking acoustics berlin r mk2
    core audio designs plyKraft 3L | hifi racks ltd podium t5-iii | alp-tone audio analog cables

  2. #2
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    Re: pre-amp advice

    I've really only done direct comparison once, going from a CDP with variable outs into a power amp. Then I used the fixed CDP output into the preamp. I preferred using the preamp, it wasn't even close.

    I always meant to try going direct from my Levinson SACD direct to amp to see if the same result. Just never did.

    I wonder now that not using a preamp is more popular if manufacturers have addressed any elements to improve sound going that route.

    My first experience was so decisive Ijust kept with a preamp, plus I typically need the switching.
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  3. #3
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    Re: pre-amp advice

    In my only experience comparing the two methods, using a preamplifier was better. Direct from the DAC seemed a little more detailed but using a preamplifer added more "life" to the music. It had more body and was more musical. Dynamics were also improved. YMMV

    Since then I have switched to integrated amplifiers to eliminate the box and the extra wires.

  4. #4
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    Re: pre-amp advice

    Back in the 90s I owned a Proceed CDP whose volume control I used to attach my all digital CD player front end directly to my Mark Levinson No. 331 Amplifier. I was more than satisfied with the results. Although I did no direct comparisons with a good pre, a number of reviews of this unit and its big brothers, the Mark Levinson No. 39 and 390S, did do comparisons with similar results, favoring the direct connection. The volume control on these units was implemented in the analog domain. Obviously YMMV with different units, but this is early evidence that going direct in selected instances can yield fine performance. The Stereophile review of the No.39 can be found at (see p.3 for relevant commentary):
    Mark Levinson No.39 CD player | Stereophile.com

  5. #5

    Re: pre-amp advice

    I’ve been going direct from my Lumin X1 into a power amp using Leedh volume processing on the Lumin app and love the sound. Worth a comparison.

  6. #6
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    Re: pre-amp advice

    thanks for the thoughtful and helpful posts -- please keep them coming!
    ______________________

    the volume control on my DAC is in the digital domain -- so, it is a passive pre-amp of sorts. as mentioned, i am pretty happy with the sound at this point. there seems to be a really good balance between detail and musicality.

    putting an active pre-amp in the chain will certainly alter the signal in some way ... probably adds some noise and loses some detail in exchange for other sonic characteristics; the net effect of which could go either way in terms of the resulting sound.

    fwiw: the pre-amp i am considering has a highly-regarded MM phono stage which would make adding analog (with or without a SUT) quite easy. maybe i just keep going direct until the point where i actually take the analog plunge?
    kanjiroba yak + roon rock > t+a dac8 dsd > air tight atc-5 + atm-300r almarro a318b > viking acoustics berlin r mk2
    core audio designs plyKraft 3L | hifi racks ltd podium t5-iii | alp-tone audio analog cables

  7. #7
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    Re: pre-amp advice

    Be careful of having too much gain. Another alternative not yet mentioned include TVC passive (FYI only, not a recommendation).
    Peter Lie
    LUMIN Firmware Lead

  8. #8
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    Re: pre-amp advice

    I have always felt that a pre-amp was one of the most important components. Often overlooked.

    I have had several; ARC, McIntosh, W4S Stage 2, etc. I believe the Hattor is my favorite that I have ever heard. Their passive's are arguable one of the best passive on the market... Add the Tube Active Stage and you have a world class pre-amplifier system! An amazing and very flexible 3 box system that will also not break you.
    Hattor AMRG Trans, Tube Active Stage | McIntosh MC7100 v2, MP100 | Rega RP8, Ania Pro, NEO PSU | Technics SL-1500C | AT VM740ML | T+A DAC 8 DSD | Moon by SimAudio NEO 430HA | Abyss Diana Phi's | Astell&Kern SE-200 | Magnepan .7's w/Magna Risers | Rythmik L12 (x2) | B&W MM1's | Oppo BDP-105 | Magnum Dynalab FT-101A, ST-2

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pre-amp advice

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