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Active or Passive Pre Amp for DAC/HT setup


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Being based in Melbourne in lockdown for the second time I’ve been building up my home audio system.

 

My listening is entirely digital using Roon. I’m currently using a Oppo 203 (as network player) > Chord Qutest> Anthem  MRX 720 ( as pre amp) > Pass Labs x150.5 ( which I added a few months back) .

 

I also used the Pass Labs to drive L & R for a 7.1.2 home theatre setup. 

My thoughts about continuing to build my 2 channel setup was to add a pre amp. I’ve been eyeing off pass labs pre amp (Xp10 or 12) to use home theatre bypass for the MRX and another lot of inputs for the DAC.

 

However one of the things I’d love to build up to one day is a Chord Hugo TT2 which has a pre amp built in which got me thinking do I need an active pre amp or would a passive one ( if I got a Hugo TT2) give me a better sound (less mucking around with the signal) to just act as an input switcher ?
 

I suppose an active pre amp gives me the option of adding analogue one day.

 

Given  that  listening To anything is out of the question for who knows how long, I’m just wondering what people’s experience and thoughts might be?  
 

cheers 

 

 

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you'll get equally adamant answers on both opposing sides, so good luck making sense of it all 🤣🤣

 

edit: tho if ur endgame is actually using the Hugo as the pre then I suppose u would want to spend as little as possible = passive...?

🤣

Edited by tripitaka
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You can try connecting laptop (USB connection + foobar2000) to Chord Qutest and than the DAC directly to power amp.

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27 minutes ago, Irek said:

You can try connecting laptop (USB connection + foobar2000) to Chord Qutest and than the DAC directly to power amp.

My understanding is it’s not a good idea to connect both the RCA and XLR inputs of the pass labs amp, hence the need for a pre amp to combine the DAC and AV receiver outputs. 
 

While I think the Anthem sounds great I’m wondering if a dedicated pre amp would be better.

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5 minutes ago, Grennesa said:

My understanding is it’s not a good idea to connect both the RCA and XLR inputs of the pass labs amp, hence the need for a pre amp to combine the DAC and AV receiver outputs. 
 

While I think the Anthem sounds great I’m wondering if a dedicated pre amp would be better.

Pretty sure what he means is you can trial it now by connecting your DAC direct to amp and disconnect Anthem. You can use software on a PC to control volume.

Will give you an idea of DAC direct.

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Thanks guys I’ll give this a go tomorrow.


I suppose plugging the DAC straight in to the amp approximates a passive pre amp? 
 

Of which there don’t seem to be a whole heap of passive pre amps pop up when I search for them? 

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Just be careful and make sure the volume is turned down before you press play.

 

Does the Oppo 203 have volume control? You could try that too and will be a bit closer to volume control inbuilt to a DAC but guessing the Qutest sounds a bit better already.

 

These methods are a little different to a passive pre as it is digital volume control but will be a more 'direct' path I guess. I have always preferred active preamps but I have not tried all DACs either. I don't have much experience with passives

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5 hours ago, Grennesa said:

I’d love to build up to one day is a Chord Hugo TT2

If you are going the TT2 bypass another component (active or passive pre) for a simpler set up.

 

Passive pre:

they are good - cheaper to build one yourself a 10K stepped ladder attenuator for $60 AUD is surprisingly GREAT and would work well with you pass power amp

keep your cables short as possible and they can work better than a active one.

 

I think there is a Townshend Allegri for sale of eBay that uses Autoformers. Autoformers is the best passive but very hard to get right I have the old inTact audio autoformers and I can't seem to stack the auto former core right The new design is meant to be a lot easier to use. 

 

If you can get your hands on a DIY Pass B1 buffer they work better than just a passive pre. (PM me)

 

 

 

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