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nzlowie

Are pre amps required?

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Hi guys

 

These days with a hi output DAC do we even need a pre amp? Just wondering if there are any advantage of a pre? My DAC has remote volume and feeds my power amps directly, am I missing anything by not having a pre?

 

Cheers

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@nzlowie I have a DAC with 32bit volume control. I find that listening with more than -10db  it does sound flatter than a good pre. 
I need a analogue pre amp because of the AM/FM tuner & turntable. 

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Been there too. Always better with a pre was what I found

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58 minutes ago, nzlowie said:

These days with a hi output DAC do we even need a pre amp? Just wondering if there are any advantage of a pre? My DAC has remote volume and feeds my power amps directly, am I missing anything by not having a pre?

Feeding my Groß DAC direct to my active speakers.  Have also been debating whether I need a pre amp, but to date, found that I am not missing anything.

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31 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

Feeding my Groß DAC direct to my active speakers.  Have also been debating whether I need a pre amp, but to date, found that I am not missing anything.

Shirley, you will only find out if you are or are not missing anything, by not having a pre ... if you add a good pre and listen.  I would've thought a (presumably ss) DAC feeding ss active speakers could well do with a nice tube pre in the signal chain.  :)

 

Andy

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, nzlowie said:

These days with a hi output DAC do we even need a pre amp?

 

 

Short answer is no, as most dacs as you say have more than enough output to drive 99% of amps into clipping. And today's dacs have output stages that can drive just as good as most preamp, especially tube ones which are not as good.

 

Now to dacs  volume control, if the dac has a "digital domain" volume control they are great if used in their top 25% of full out put, if lower than 75% they can run the risk of bit stripping EG: 14bit instead of 16bit resolution 12bit  10bit the lower you go. As misternavifound.

 

Wadia and Mark Levinson and Bricasti know this and for their top dacs they have a "max output" setting you can adjust with "gain" links inside so for any system (pic), you can match the gain so the digital volume is used at or above 75%.

 

All is not lost if you don't have these max gain setting links on your dac, set the dac's level at full volume, simply use a passive volume control (link) between dac and poweramp, set the passive for your loudest level you'll listen at,  then use the dac's volume control to attenuate the level from that, and you be in the top 75% http://www.schiit.com/products/sys

 

 

 

 

Wadia Gain setting.JPG

Edited by georgehifi
correction

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Posted (edited)

correction

 

Edited by georgehifi

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There's only one way to find out.

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48 minutes ago, kab said:

There's only one way to find out.

With thousands of DAC's and thousands of pre-amps available that's a bit more than one. ?

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Posted (edited)

There are now DACs with 32, 64, and even higher bit volume controls. You rarely get into a situation of trimming off significant bits with the 32, and probably never with the others. 

If the DAC has a proper analog output stage their is no need for a pre. If a pre sounds better in that situation, it just means you like the added color of the pre more than you like whatever color the analog out of the DAC has. A pre cannot, by definition, improve the quality of the output in such a setup. It can only add color, which isn't the same thing.

Edited by firedog

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1 hour ago, georgehifi said:

All is not lost if you don't have these max gain setting links on your dac, set the dac's level at full volume, simply use a passive volume control (link) between dac and poweramp, set the passive for your loudest level you'll listen at,  then use the dac's volume control to attenuate the level from that, and you be in the top 75% http://www.schiit.com/products/sys

Don't understand this comment. A passive VC like the Sys is a passive analog attenuator. You should set the DAC at it's max, and use the analog passive to attenuate. Then you aren't losing bits with the DAC digital VC. 

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3 minutes ago, firedog said:

If the DAC has a proper analogue output stage there is no need for a pre. If a pre sounds better in that situation, it just means you like the added colour of the pre more than you like whatever colour the analogue out of the pre has. A pre cannot, by definition, improve the quality of the output in such a setup. It can only add colour, which isn't the same thing.

Unless the output stage isn't that good at driving a power amp for whatever reason and can manage to drive a preamp input stage better...

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1 minute ago, Ittaku said:

Unless the output stage isn't that good at driving a power amp for whatever reason and can manage to drive a preamp input stage better...

Yes, I was just about to add that to my comment. But again, I'm talking about a DAC with a proper analog output stage, which should preclude that issue. 

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1 hour ago, firedog said:

If a pre sounds better in that situation, it just means you like the added color of the pre more than you like whatever color the analog out of the DAC has. A pre cannot, by definition, improve the quality of the output in such a setup. It can only add color, which isn't the same thing.

+1 Well put.

 

Cheers George

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1 hour ago, firedog said:

Don't understand this comment.

It like having a max level gain set as with the Wadia, ML, Bricasti Dacs.

If your digital domain VC is very low and "bit stripping" for normal levels, then a passive allows you to use it at almost full volume so then it doesn't "bit strip"

 

Cheers George

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, firedog said:

Unless the output stage isn't that good at driving a power amp for whatever reason and can manage to drive a preamp input stage better...

The "industry standard" (not that's it's adhered to) for both preamp input or poweramp input is 47kohm, the same. So it makes no never mind what the dac's output stage is driving, so long as it's not a feeble tube output stage, even then if both are 47kohm input, it will behave the same into either.

 

Cheers George

Edited by georgehifi

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Moderator

I dont really see the point of a passive pre on top of a dac pre to make up for its inadequacies ? if want one there a moth passive going in the for sales.

 

but in anycase coming back to questions, do you need a stand alone pre ? for some people yes. if wanting to use more than one source along with more complex systems pres are a necessity :)

 

also depends if your gear has a pre built in ? some are dacs with a pre stage some pres have a dac stage built in. just depends if you want it built in or stand alone... no different argument to anything else where ...do you need to go mulrtipurpose one thing that does it all or all separates. probably no hard fast rules as comes down to implementation and gear you are considering :)

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5 hours ago, nzlowie said:

Hi guys

 

These days with a hi output DAC do we even need a pre amp? Just wondering if there are any advantage of a pre? My DAC has remote volume and feeds my power amps directly, am I missing anything by not having a pre?

 

Cheers

I'm using a Benchmark DAC2/Pre with my active atc's.  I found it a better combo than a Doge pre amp and separate DAC I was using.   

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1 hour ago, :) al said:

I dont really see the point of a passive pre on top of a dac pre to make up for its inadequacies ?

Wow it's not hard, it's so you can knock the gain back if you have too much from the dac. 

So you can use the digital domain volume control in the dac in the top 25% of full volume so you don't "bit strip".

Thorsten Losech  of AMR recons he can hear digital domain volume controls "bit strip" at even 90% full volume on dacs digital domain volume controls which is debatable, most say any less than 75% is the figure that "bit stripping" starts.

 

Cheers George

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4 hours ago, firedog said:

Don't understand this comment. A passive VC like the Sys is a passive analog attenuator. You should set the DAC at it's max, and use the analog passive to attenuate. Then you aren't losing bits with the DAC digital VC. 

 

But what you get with a passive VC is a device which presents a different Zout to the power amp following it, at different volume settings - thus changing the Zout/Zin ratio.

 

A DAC with a "proper analogue output stage" (as firedog called it) doesn't have this problem.

 

4 hours ago, firedog said:

A pre cannot, by definition, improve the quality of the output in such a setup. It can only add color, which isn't the same thing.

 

And a passive VC (aka a volume pot/attenuator) doesn't have it's own sonic signature?  ?

 

Andy

 

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30 minutes ago, georgehifi said:

Wow it's not hard, it's so you can knock the gain back if you have too much from the dac. 

So you can use the digital domain volume control in the dac in the top 25% of full volume so you don't "bit strip".

Thorsten Losech  of AMR recons he can hear digital domain volume controls "bit strip" at even 90% full volume on dacs digital domain volume controls which is debatable, most say any less than 75% is the figure that "bit stripping" starts.

 

Cheers George

perhaps you didnt get my point. I know all about bit stripping. I've experienced it myself and why i dont personally like using digital volume controls. what I dont get the point of is using a digital volume control and then having to use a passive pre on top of it to make up for the inadequacies a digital volume control will introduce. id personally just use the passive pre or an active pre which is what i am doing and bypass the need of the digital volume stage and introducing that as a factor at all :) I hope makes sense what my point is.

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It's so an owner can use his remote control that came with the Cdp or Dac that has digital volume control on the remote. And for $49usd for the passive it's a way of getting both, a remote volume control, and working in it's optimum resolution range 

 

Cheers George

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Most active preamps come with a remote control these days.

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Ittaku said:

Most active preamps come with a remote control these days.

Oh dear, we're talking about getting rid of the active preamp because we already have more than enough gain without it, why add more. Thoroughly read the Wadia dac chart I posted, to use it's volume control on it's remote without an active preamp. 

https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/uploads/monthly_2018_04/1509992055_WadiaGainsetting.JPG.732e83240c2adb8545ef07c93338190b.JPG

 

 

Cheers George  

Edited by georgehifi

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1 minute ago, georgehifi said:

We're talking about getting rid of the active preamp because we already have more than enough gain without it.

I said nothing about gain, it was simply a counterpoint to your mentioning the remote control as some kind of advantage of using passive over active.

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