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Pete Gardner

System Configuration

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I have a tube integrated amp (RCA inputs only) arriving in a few days and have 2 possible configurations , both having pros and cons.

 

 

Config 1 - DAC > XLR >  Headphone Amp > RCA > Amp

 

Pro - Config 2 Con avoided

       - volume control from either DAC or Auralic

       - speakers and headphones can be used at same time

Con - Possible SQ issues from 3 pre-amps in the chain

 

 

Config 2 - DAC (both XLR & RCA outs) > RCA > Amp & > XLR > Headphone Amp

 

Pro - bypasses headphone amp for direct line to integrated

       - volume control from DAC

Con - not recommended to have both XLR and RCA outs for DAC at the same time (possible sound degradation from XLR)

 

Both DAC and Headphone Amp are variable outs only.

 

My question... Will config 1 have SQ issues/degradation/colouring by essentially having 3 pre-amps (DAC pre(digital)/Auralic Pre(analog)/Integrated Pre(analog)) in the same chain or should I put up with the inconvenience & just disconnect XLR / RCA in Config 2 as required to avoid possible SQ issues?

 

Thanks for reading and I hope it makes sense!!!

 

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For config 1 you could just leave the DAC's volume control at 100% all the time, that way you would basically treat it as a DAC without volume control. Then you can use the headphone/pre-amp as volume control.

 

Since it is an integrated amp I think I would prefer config 2. However, I can't judge how much influence having both the RCAs and XLRs connected at the same time will have on the sound quality. What model is your DAC?

 

Of course disconnecting one of the outputs is always possible, but a bit inconvenient.

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Thanks Hayo,

DAC is the Gieseler Fein II

Leaning towards Config 2 also after speaking to fellow SNAer today. He believes I will get colouration with Config 1.

Will just deal with cable switching as required.

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Did Gieseler confirm it's not recommended to have both the XLRs and RCAs connected?

 

I'm not sure if it's actually a problem. From what I can tell you actually have to switch between XLR and RCA output with the switch on the back. 

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That’s what I thought but clarification from Clay is that the switch is for grounding with rca output to reduce hum.  Clay said likely SQ reduction thru xlr when both connected.

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Then I would personally go for config 2 and deal with the cable switching.

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