Advice - when to add preamp to DSD dac

Hi everyone. I recently got a DSD dac and really like it and debating on the next step.

I am currently using the DSD dac without a preamp. Quick silver 8417 monoblocks (el34 modded) playing on NX otica speakers (94db sensitive)

Option 1. add BHK preamp and add BHK 250 amp down the road when funds allow .
Option 2 get the BHK 250 amp now and a the BHK preamp later.

I welcome everyone’s opinion on what would have the biggest impact short term.

I highly recommend you get the preamp first…

keep using DSD as pre-amp, primary use for a pre-amp is for attaching other components like a turntable, thus get the amp sooner

will save on cables upgrades

Sound wise that’s pretty easy. I would upgrade the amplifiers. Weakest link always.


Welcome to the group!

Unless you need an input switching device there is no need for a preamp at this time. The volume control on the DSDac is really good.

The preamp would be a sonic improvement but as @Paul said, the amplifier will be the most improvement based on your current setup.

I will say that when you get the BHK preamp it also includes a really good headphone amp.

I do love the NXotica’s for their open sound. I was going to get a set of NXtreme’s but simply dont have the room for either one.

Welcome @jeanlucgodin !

The quicksilver monoblocks don’t sound good, or what is it that is lacking?

If you are not satisfied with your amp or dac-to-amp combo, then you might want to upgrade the amp, but it depends on what you are trying to accomplish or achieve sonic-wise.
If your amp is ok, and you are looking to add a preamp, then add a preamp.
The BHK250 is also on a closeout sale right now from PS Audio, so now is a good time to get a brand new BHK250.

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My two cents from owning the DS, the BHK preamp and the BHK 250 and still owning the transformer upgraded DS. If you like the sound of your Quicksilver amps with the GR Research speakers they have more than enough power and the tube magic that work with Danny’s higher efficiency models. I’ve tried the DS over the last seven years directly connected to multiple amps including the 250 and found the sound to be flat and uninvolving. So since you like the sound of the amps and the DAC I would look at a preamp first. In your situation and with your gear the BHK preamp would not be my choice after owning it for four years and being the first piece of the three to be sold. From years of being a member of this forum and others the sample to sample difference in the preamp is pretty significant including parts and construction changes. From my experience and that of friends that owned it and sold it the BHK preamp doesn’t play nice with amps that are also not fully balanced unless you are ok with loud clicking noises every time you adjust the volume. In addition it is the most tube finicky tubed preamp I have ever encountered and created the most self noise. If I was looking to buy a preamp to go with your amp and speakers I would look at for tube preamps the Supratek Chardonnay and Cabernet, Aric Audio, Linear Tube Audio and Backert Labs. For SS I would look at the Holo Serene KTE or the Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE Stage 2. I suspect that shortly the “usual suspects” will jump in to contradict me but my opinion is based on actual experience and not being a brand loyalty enthusiast. Also if you don’t have a problem based on your location with the heat generated by the BHK 250 or the weight and bulk the 250 is a great amp. The other factors and not the sound are why I reluctantly let mine go.

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I have tried many a DAC straight to the amplifiers. My very strong preference is use a Preamp between them. I have never been disappointed from putting a Preamp between my DAC and my amp.


I have a nearly new Backert Labs Rhumba 1.3 Extreme and it is a killer piece. Dead quiet, rock solid and simple to use.
With my recent downsizing effort it will be showing up at TMR soon.


My situation is, not only has the preamp greatly improves the sonic presentation in my system, it also gets the level of volume position where it is ideal. But you have to get a high enough quality preamp at lease like the BHK pre or the sound will be compromised. I would get the power amp first and if it mates well without a preamp, and you don’t need an analog imput, by all means forget about the preamp.


I used the DirectStream Mk I direct to the BHK250 via XLR for years. At the urging of this forum, I tried the BHK Pre and no doubt, it’s better. How much better? Only your ears and your budget can decide. If the BHK250 is your ultimate goal, I would grab one at the close out price. One more thing… the BHK250 seems overkill with those efficient speakers.