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Preamp recommendation (or no preamp)?


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16 minutes ago, stereo coffee said:

then the answer is to attenuate your audio signal, with as little signal degradation, as is humanely possible.  

Signal degradation is easily measured. Do you have any measurements to show that the device you sell degrades the signal less than active designs?

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I highly recommend the New Zealand designed and built 'Stereo Coffee' which is a passive pre-amp with 3 (switchable)  inputs. It is probably one of the best pre-amps in the world and I have had 3 and

After 30 years of experimenting with solid state pres, valve pres, Lightspeed LDR, WarpspeedLDR, Truth LDR, Dave Slagle TVC, Promethius TVC and just plain passive pots.   I am now back at a

For a further spanner in the works, I use (what I feel is great) a Wyred4Sound STP-SE preamp, which is kinda sorta a passive preamp, but adds gain only if required as you turn up the (very good) volum

20 minutes ago, stereo coffee said:

 

A contact less  passive represents simple resistance.   A active represents input capacitance, resistance, gain devices, many phase anomalies leading to tonal coloration, from simply not being able to depart from being a vast series circuit to the incoming audio signal.   The circuit attempts to correct with feedback and proximity etc. A study of feedback shows it is a cat and mouse affair at best  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feedback#Electronic_engineering

Thanks and I don't doubt this, indeed fear of all the above is why I currently have no preamp at all.  And it's also true that questions of attenuation are fundamental to my situation.   However, the technology for achieving attenuation is of less interest to me (and in any case I love my dac vol control so, if anything, I like the idea of introducing fixed attenuation).  Anyway, my over-riding interest really, is the effect which a given level of attenuation at different points along the signal chain might have on dynamics, which you can see I've been clumsily grappling with above!

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10 hours ago, Pops110 said:

That’s good to know that’s it’s an easy fix. I tried it out for a bit in my system but I think I prefer a valve pre. Very good pre for a stupidly small amount of money.

After trying many passive preamps in my system I arrived at the same conclusion – I prefer a valve preamp.

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33 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

Signal degradation is easily measured. Do you have any measurements to show that the device you sell degrades the signal less than active designs?

Measured with the best measuring devices available. 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

After 30 years of experimenting with solid state pres, valve pres, Lightspeed LDR, WarpspeedLDR, Truth LDR, Dave Slagle TVC, Promethius TVC and just plain passive pots.

 

I am now back at a valve pre.  It definitely gives the music the best chance.  You need your pre to have very low output capability though - or it won't drive anything and you will be disappointed.  Especially low impedance to drive your Bryston.

Edited by Red MacKay
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17 minutes ago, Red MacKay said:

 a valve pre.  It definitely gives the music the best chance.  You need your pre to have very low output capability though - or it won't drive anything and you will be disappointed.  Especially low impedance to drive your Bryston.

What he said!

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I'm absolutely blown away by my new DACGEAR LDR Pre Mk2. I think my setup had too many different tube component signatures before (source,  pre and power amp).

 

The LTA MZ3 was spectacular when I had the darTZeel NHB108B copy, though has never seemed to pair with my Wavebourn Edelweiss-3 power amp as well. 

 

I notice sound is more open sounding,  music flows more naturally and has greater presence or immediacy. Imaging is improved and I'm noticing detail I've never heard before. I found myself bobbing my head to music while eating dinner,  never mind toe tapping.

 

That's not to say that it is better than the MZ3. Simply that the LDR is superior in my current system configuration. As I said earlier I believe I had too many different tube components in my system before and they sort of cancelled each other out which isn't something I want with the great sources I currently possess.

 

Anyway,  I'll be selling my LTA MZ3 shortly.  Good thing I kept the boxes. :)

Edited by MattyW
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  • 2 months later...
On 06/06/2020 at 2:05 PM, astonmartinv8 said:

 

I've got a PS Audio Directstream with Bridge 2 running straight into a pair of Bryston 7B SST's and B&W 802 diamonds.

 

I've been thinking about a preamp (looking at PS Audio BHK Signature), and of course their literature tells me how much more musical everything is with it (bringing out the magic that the $9500 DAC forgot to 🙂).

 

Any update on whether you tried anything?

 

I ran a dac direct to poweramp and then added a preamp resulting in significant improvement, very noticeable better imaging, but the scientist in me says I was merely compensating for deficiencies in the dac output stage by buffering it and letting it operate at lower output (preamp is wound up to max output).

 

I'd be confident (or at least very hopeful) that a dac as expensive as yours wouldn't see any imaging improvements from introducing a more complex signal path (leaving 'voicing' preferences to one side of course).

👍

 

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Townshend Allegri+
No remote, but it sounds bloody amazing. I’m a believer preamps make a difference, too. I’m running a two source system (DAC and phonostage) and I am very happy. Buying from their eBay store saved me a lot of money. 
not affiliated with them, just love the device. 

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Hey folks. I have had a DS DAC for something like 4 years now, and for the first 3 and a bit I ran it direct to power amp. I'm a fan of transparent clean resolving but not harsh or edgy sound, and I am not a fan of valves in general.

 

Despite the DS DAC's volume control being actually lossless (though as discussed by one poster earlier, the musical signal gets pushed down relative to the DAC's own noise floor) and the output stage being nothing but direct taps from the output transformer driven by reasonably high current switching devices on the input side, I have ended up with a pre-amp in the system. (Fully balanced, solid state, to match the DAC and power amp.)

 

It's not better in every respect, but bass is better defined and the soundstage is bigger and more free from the speakers. There was noticeable colouration of the signal (not unpleasant, but not right) before I put the pre-amp on isolation springs. Some of the fun was dialled back by the springs but on balance I prefer this set of compromises to those I had without the pre-amp.

 

It's a close-run thing and even for those prioritising transparency and accuracy in their gear choices, sometimes the more complicated system seems to take you a bit closer to where you want to be.

 

PS Audio has a much more expensive unit based on the DS DAC architecture in the works, including a lot more current capability in the switches that drive the output transformer and a more flexible level matching system. That one might be the DAC that unequivocally sounds best without a pre-amp. The existing DS... close but maybe not quite.

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4 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:

 

Edit: quote lost  above, but it was the bit about bringing out the magic a 9.5K dac forgot to 🤣

 

 

Indeed but, for someone at a more modest price point, I knew something was up seeing my power amp go into clip protection when connected to my dac (on a fast attack transient at decent volume)

I know that says more about my dac than much else, but at least it doesnt happen now with a preamp. 👍

Edited by tripitaka
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15 minutes ago, tripitaka said:

I know that says more about my dac than much else, but at least it doesnt happen now with a preamp. 👍

So you are running a smaller input into your power amp now (ie. less SPL) than you were without a power amp?????? ..... That doesn't seem like apples to apples.

 

If there's some other reason why you got clipping with out a preamp (resolved with a preamp) .... then something is "broken".

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22 minutes ago, davewantsmoore said:

So you are running a smaller input into your power amp now (ie. less SPL) than you were without a power amp?????? ..... That doesn't seem like apples to apples.

 

If there's some other reason why you got clipping with out a preamp (resolved with a preamp) .... then something is "broken".

We are in agreement. 👍

 

The preamp vol. is wound out to max [ edit: preamp gain is 12 dB] so the dac is now operating at lower output voltage. My opinion has been that in MY system 😀 the preamp is compensating for dac deficiencies.   I am also assuming that other improvements (mainly imaging) are for the same reason, but I can't prove that.😊

Edited by tripitaka
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If you're getting to high voltage out of the DAC that cannot be handled by your amp input. You can fix it easily with a simple voltage divider circuit. I did this long time ago when my DAC keep overdriving my minidsp

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31 minutes ago, mloutfie said:

If you're getting to high voltage out of the DAC that cannot be handled by your amp input. You can fix it easily with a simple voltage divider circuit. I did this long time ago when my DAC keep overdriving my minidsp

Cheers, though apparently solved now, I have assumed that the problem was actually that the amp was responding to a clipped input signal (from the dac).

 

Still, in the dac's defense, I was running 2 poweramps from it - so now the preamp supplies the 2 poweramps and seems to do a more competent job of it.

 

 

 

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