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In short: If you're using your DAC as a pre and haven't tried a dedicated/integrated pre already, try it immediately.

 

So on a whim I got a used Schiit Saga about a week ago and dropped it into my minimal power amp (Job 225) to DAC (PS Audio Directream 2) combo. Being fairly skeptical it would make a difference, and super happy with my high end two box setup....I was blown away.

 

I knew Paul McGowan, John Darko and others have spoken about the benefits of preamps but I always took it as a preference thing. In my case it's not about preferences, but night and day with a clearly superior sound ie. a bigger 3D sound stage, more lifelike mids, better seperation,  no more fatigue etc. etc.....

I can just make out the when the tube buffer is engaged, and tube rolling will be happening soon.  The DAC lineout is on 100% all the time now and I notice the Job amp is running a lot cooler for some reason compared to when I used the DAC for volume. 

 

I've heard tube amplification and preamps before but let's face it...they're both not so fashionable now especially among the head-fi, streaming, fewer box count sub-cultures where I spend most of my time. Also I can't recall ever seeing a word of warning on digital line-outs.

Lessons and reminders: listen to different technologies, experiment, and adding to sound is not always a sin (or a virtue of course).

 

 

 

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In short: If you're using your DAC as a pre and haven't tried a dedicated/integrated pre already, try it immediately.   So on a whim I got a used Schiit Saga about a week ago and dropped it

My pre-amp arrived on Friday and it has made a massive improvement in the sound. I had a Gieseler Fein II into a Holton One-Zero-Zero and it could sound good, but it could also sound a bit hollow. Add

I've embraced the distortion and colour proudly and many times extolled its virtues. I'm not fooling myself thinking it's more accurate - I have components with insane accuracy and regularly compare t

A lesson I have learnt also, a good valve or SS preamp will give considerable improvements over an integrated DAC/Pre.

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Often wondered about preamps, l always took them as signal conditioning.

Used mainly for turntables and power amps a DAC should present a good signal?? right??

 

regards Bruce

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7 minutes ago, sloper said:

Often wondered about preamps, l always took them as signal conditioning.

Used mainly for turntables and power amps a DAC should present a good signal?? right??

 

regards Bruce

Exactly, and as little interference with that " good signal" to provide necessary attenuation - the better.   https://lunainc.com/product/optocouplers/

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2 minutes ago, sloper said:

Where are you inserting those?

l use optical input to my DAC for just that reason.

 

regards Bruce

As a L pad, 3 input attenuator, seen here:  

 

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4 hours ago, sloper said:

Used mainly for turntables and power amps a DAC should present a good signal?? right??

That depends on what the final analogue gain circuit in the DAC is.... and what the input to the power amplifier is like to drive.

 

Some DACs have circuits in them that would rivial many hi-end preamps, others not.....  

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5 hours ago, Fitzroyalty said:

In short: If you're using your DAC as a pre and haven't tried a dedicated/integrated pre already, try it immediately.

 

So on a whim I got a used Schiit Saga about a week ago and dropped it into my minimal power amp (Job 225) to DAC (PS Audio Directream 2) combo. Being fairly skeptical it would make a difference, and super happy with my high end two box setup....I was blown away.

 

I knew Paul McGowan, John Darko and others have spoken about the benefits of preamps but I always took it as a preference thing. In my case it's not about preferences, but night and day with a clearly superior sound ie. a bigger 3D sound stage, more lifelike mids, better seperation,  no more fatigue etc. etc.....

I can just make out the when the tube buffer is engaged, and tube rolling will be happening soon.  The DAC lineout is on 100% all the time now and I notice the Job amp is running a lot cooler for some reason compared to when I used the DAC for volume. 

 

I've heard tube amplification and preamps before but let's face it...they're both not so fashionable now especially among the head-fi, streaming, fewer box count sub-cultures where I spend most of my time. Also I can't recall ever seeing a word of warning on digital line-outs.

Lessons and reminders: listen to different technologies, experiment, and adding to sound is not always a sin (or a virtue of course).

 

 

 

Yep, I've advised a number of people to insert a good quality Active Pre. instead of going direct. They have all been astounded at the massive improvement this has made to their systems.

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9 minutes ago, initforthemusic said:

Yep, I've advised a number of people to insert a good quality Active Pre. instead of going direct. They have all been astounded at the massive improvement this has made to their systems.

Until they hear what a good passive can do.   What is needed is to actually hear both and let us all know, so others are then properly informed.  

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1 minute ago, stereo coffee said:

Until they hear what a good passive can do.   What is needed is to actually hear both and let us all know, so others are then properly informed.  

Tried a few different Passives, nope just havn't done it for me.

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3 minutes ago, initforthemusic said:

Tried a few different Passives, nope just havn't done it for me.

Seriously suggest you hear again, widening your choices , to include optocouplers this time, and look at your power amps input sensitivity to be below 1.5v for full output. and fixed resistance to be below 20k ( what figures  does your power amp provide  ? )  

 

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10 minutes ago, initforthemusic said:

I have 6 Power Amps and 6 Pres and they all work in well together. Don't want to be restricted by something that may or may not work.

Unsure how you can be restricted by something, that may work ( better ).  Hope you get the chance to explore passive optocoupler options,  in the near future 

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10 hours ago, initforthemusic said:

Would have to be a massive improvement over the Passives I've heard.  Good Active Pre's  I've experienced heard have absolutely annihilated Passives I've experienced.

I don't know which passive preamp/attenuators you have auditioned but the bottom photo in this post from SteveM shows my own tiny timber faced 2020B StereoCoffee LDR PASSIVE preamp with some very high end equipment for company.

 

Other passive preamps I have heard were good but this one is on another level compared to other passive preamps and is absolutely worth auditioning, especially if you are 'in it for the music'. Musical reality is where this LDR preamp excels.

 

My 2020B StereoCoffee is on loan to SteveM at the moment while his is being built but will be available for audition when it is returns if you are interested.

 

Cheers, Rob

 

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1 hour ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

Which you have a commercial interest in promoting, right?

It just happens what I sell, sounds the best. There are many sellers to choose from & there is also opportunity to DIY such an attenuator as I did 11 years ago, to prove the merits of optocouplers  for yourself, .... rather than writing, give one a go.... if you need some help with your own design I would be happy to advise and help you.   

Edited by stereo coffee
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30 minutes ago, stereo coffee said:

It just happens what I sell sounds the best.

It sounds like you are stating that as a fact. It is of course, your opinion. Like most things that are a matter of opinion, it seems to  be shared by some others but certainly not everyone 

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1 hour ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

It sounds like you are stating that as a fact. It is of course, your opinion. Like most things that are a matter of opinion, it seems to  be shared by some others but certainly not everyone 

Whilst you were busy designing that reply, I worked on the diagram of the rectifier section,  to assist you building your own. 

 

Thyristors are MCR 100-6  , Triacs are BT137, Slave rectifiers are MB6 Resistors are 630 ohm, capacitor is 1000uf @35v  P channel mosfets are AO4407 

 

AC 12v is at Header 1, and DC at Header 2 . further use of current is made at the negative so when designing your board 

 https://easyeda.com   allow for that.   .... let me know how it goes. 

 

rectifier.pdf

Edited by stereo coffee
Refined schematic thyristor connection
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1 hour ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

It sounds like you are stating that as a fact. It is of course, your opinion. Like most things that are a matter of opinion, it seems to  be shared by some others but certainly not everyone 

 

You mean, Sir SZ, that the only things that are 'facts' ... are those believed by everybody:lol:

 

Andy

 

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1 hour ago, andyr said:

 

You mean, Sir SZ, that the only things that are 'facts' ... are those believed by everybody:lol:

 

Andy

 

Andy, I suspect you know that's not what I'm saying at all

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25 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

Andy, I suspect you know that's not what I'm saying at all

 

I think I dooo, Trevor - after all there are so many people who 'know' that the earth is ... round!  :winky:

 

Andy

 

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If the output stage of your dac is inadequate it will respond very favourably with an active preamp, but a passive - no matter how good - can only make things worse.

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8 hours ago, stereo coffee said:

It just happens what I sell, sounds the best. 

Think it's best for some experienced independent people to decide if it is before making such an outlandish Statement.

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9 hours ago, robmid said:

I don't know which passive preamp/attenuators you have auditioned but the bottom photo in this post from SteveM shows my own tiny timber faced 2020B StereoCoffee LDR PASSIVE preamp with some very high end equipment for company.

 

Other passive preamps I have heard were good but this one is on another level compared to other passive preamps and is absolutely worth auditioning, especially if you are 'in it for the music'. Musical reality is where this LDR preamp excels.

 

My 2020B StereoCoffee is on loan to SteveM at the moment while his is being built but will be available for audition when it is returns if you are interested.

 

Cheers, Rob

 

Yes Rob. Let me know when it's available.

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8 hours ago, stereo coffee said:

It just happens what I sell, sounds the best.

This sounds quite arrogant if I may say so.

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10 hours ago, robmid said:

My 2020B StereoCoffee is on loan to SteveM at the moment while his is being built but will be available for audition when it is returns if you are interested.

What is the cost of a 2020B ?

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40 minutes ago, Peter_F said:

What is the cost of a 2020B ?

Hi Peter.

I think the 3 input DIY boards are around $350 and prebuilt unit around $600. You would need to ask Chris as he customises boards.

Cheers, Rob

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On 06/06/2020 at 9:48 PM, initforthemusic said:

If you have one over in Melbourne at some stage I'll give it an audition.


That’s a good approach, listen for yourself in the comfort of your own system and home, and then make judgement.

 

I have the StereoCoffee on loan from @robmid (thanks Rob) and think that it is the best of 8-10 passive attenuators I have tried over the years. The list includes Audio Synthesis Passion, DacT, Sonic Euphoria USA, Prometheus Transformer type, Alps and Noble pots and Music First transformer type from UK. With the Musiic First (from memory) sounding a close second to the SC.
 

All of the passives tend to squash dynamics to some degree, however with the StereoCoffee I don’t think so? Yes, it’s not quite as lively, open and luscious as my Supratek Grange, but that could just be a factor of accuracy with the StereoCoffee unit and it may be a positive trait in a lot of systems.

 

*Anyway, if anyone in Perth wants to try out the StereoCoffee before it goes back to Rob, please contact me to try it for yourself. 
 

Cheers,

 

Steve.

Edited by Steve M
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Yes, I found the Schiit Saga to be roughly even with the Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 2. More of a sideways step really.  The MicroZOTL 3 is noticeably better again though it's also quite pricey in comparison. Both the Saga and MZ3 use ladder based attenuation.

Edited by MattyW
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I had a chance to try the Stereo Coffee preamp vs a Supratek and it was very good. Mind boggling good at the price, I doubt if anything at the price $500 as built by the supplier up to say 2-4 times the price would do better. Highly recommended at those price levels, very clean, clear sound, imaged well, good overall across the spectrum extended in bass and treble, lots of micro detail. There didn’t seem to be as much or little of the severely reduced loudness and lifelessness found with many supposedly hi quality passive preamp or similar volume control devices.

 

Against the Supratek I didn’t feel it was better, perhaps within 80% of it. It was much less open and musical. Used on Parasound Halo A21 solid state amp, Acoustat 121 ESL and Yamaha NS1000 ported version speakers.

Edited by Al.M
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On 09/06/2020 at 6:20 PM, Steve M said:


That’s a good approach, listen for yourself in the comfort of your own system and home, and then make judgement.

 

I have the StereoCoffee on loan from @robmid (thanks Rob) and think that it is the best of 8-10 passive attenuators I have tried over the years. The list includes Audio Synthesis Passion, DacT, Sonic Euphoria USA, Prometheus Transformer type, Alps and Noble pots and Music First transformer type from UK. With the Musiic First (from memory) sounding a close second to the SC.
 

All of the passives tend to squash dynamics to some degree, however with the StereoCoffee I don’t think so? Yes, it’s not quite as lively, open and luscious as my Supratek Grange, but that could just be a factor of accuracy with the StereoCoffee unit and it may be a positive trait in a lot of systems.

 

*Anyway, if anyone in Perth wants to try out the StereoCoffee before it goes back to Rob, please contact me to try it for yourself. 
 

Cheers,

 

Steve.

Mmmmm, you've got me wanting to try an LDR passive pre. Wondering if I can squeeze one inside my 1969 Hood amp in place of the ALPS with my second main system. Mmmmmm

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I got my Stereo Coffee pre the other day, built by Chris Daly with a single input for my Lenco L75 and ME15 (MC card) + ME850 + Tannoy Turberry's. I use the SC as a volume control via the ME15 tape out bypassing the ME Alps Blue, so not as a stand alone passive pre.

( I don't like passive preamps as a rule. I find they dry out the sound and flatten the dynamics too much for my taste).

 

In my set-up ... Wow. The Stereo Coffee has elevated the already excellent ME pairing to another level. It does this by removing everything (noise) that gets between the signal and my ears caused by the extra "signal processing" by the (very good) built in volume pot on the ME15. 

 

The added clarity - low detail retrieval really surprised me. Seriously. There was no squashing of dynamics or thinning the sound. Bass was clearly defined. Overall, the net effect of hearing so much more of what is recorded created an incredibly lifelike sound I was unprepared for. Voices, instruments and the acoustic space around them sounded so real I was simply amazed at the difference the SC made. I cannot overemphasize the effect this "lifelike" sound has made to my listening pleasure, compared to what I heard via the built in volume pot and its circuit. And all for $350 + freight from NZ. Deal of a lifetime for me on a seriously limited budget.

 

The SC also revealed just how good the ME15 really is, it's MC phono stage is superb with my SPU Royal N low output MC cartridge. I have finally reached that point in my HiFi journey where I can say I am now content with what I have as my system and can now spend my hard earned on more vinyl.

 

Thank you Chris Daly (and Peter Stein, and Trevor Wilson for the ME upgrades)

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2 minutes ago, RichardMak said:

I got my Stereo Coffee pre the other day, built by Chris Daly with a single input for my Lenco L75 and ME15 (MC card) + ME850 + Tannoy Turberry's. I use the SC as a volume control via the ME15 tape out bypassing the ME Alps Blue, so not as a stand alone passive pre.

( I don't like passive preamps as a rule. I find they dry out the sound and flatten the dynamics too much for my taste).

 

In my set-up ... Wow. The Stereo Coffee has elevated the already excellent ME pairing to another level. It does this by removing everything (noise) that gets between the signal and my ears caused by the extra "signal processing" by the (very good) built in volume pot on the ME15. 

 

The added clarity - low detail retrieval really surprised me. Seriously. There was no squashing of dynamics or thinning the sound. Bass was clearly defined. Overall, the net effect of hearing so much more of what is recorded created an incredibly lifelike sound I was unprepared for. Voices, instruments and the acoustic space around them sounded so real I was simply amazed at the difference the SC made. I cannot overemphasize the effect this "lifelike" sound has made to my listening pleasure, compared to what I heard via the built in volume pot and its circuit. And all for $350 + freight from NZ. Deal of a lifetime for me on a seriously limited budget.

 

The SC also revealed just how good the ME15 really is, it's MC phono stage is superb with my SPU Royal N low output MC cartridge. I have finally reached that point in my HiFi journey where I can say I am now content with what I have as my system and can now spend my hard earned on more vinyl.

 

Thank you Chris Daly (and Peter Stein, and Trevor Wilson for the ME upgrades)

I'm going to try an LDR pre and have a DACGEAR LRE Pre Mk2 on the way. The small size, multiple inputs, adjustable impedance, display and remote control are all features I want. My only concern is around the necessity of my using RCA splitters as I bi-amp. The only way to know is to try it though.

 

It will need to match or outperform my Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL 3 in order to replace it. Due to the level of my tube based Abbas Audio sources and their high output level. DAC has a tube output and the phono is full tube and the power amp on the fullrange and super tweeters is SE tube so theoretically this could actually sound better than an active preamp. Why reduce the gain just to let the preamp increase it again? Just doesn't make sense.

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