BHK 250 Direct to DS or Stellar 700's with BHK Preamp to DS?

I have a Direct Stream DAC which is connected via I2S to a Musica Pristina server. My speakers are the Sonus Faber Elipsa SE’s with 2 REL S3 subs. I am wondering if the BHK 250 connected directly to the DS would be better than a BHK preamp and a pair of S700’s. Has anyone made such a comparison? From what I have read from Ted and others is that the DS does not lose bits at a volume reduction. My current amp is a Pass INT-60. The Pass is very good, but just thinking about something that might be even better. What are your opinions?

That setup deserves, no demands, BHK 300 monos and BHK pre.

I have the DS, BHK pre with M700, largely do to physical space constraints not $.

You know the answer, you’ll have to try both combos yourself to know.

In my experimentation using M700s and the BHK 250, neither connected directly to the DSD sounded near as good as when using a good high quality pre-amp. My results anyway.

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That Pass int amp is like heavenly good!

Ron, did you keep the BHK or Stellar? The size of the BHK dropped them from consideration for me. Last house, fingers crossed.

xcowdoc (I know what you did), here’s my recent experience, opinion,

The M700 runs efficiently which is very nice where I live and for the front room aesthetic.

M700 with the BHK pre are in an enclosed wood cabinet. Top of BHK 90F, M700 85F, fan kicks at 101F and usually runs for ~3-4 seconds once every 20 mins. maybe longer. Exchanges all the air and I maybe hear it twice an hour. If I open the doors, fan never runs.

The BHK pre is incomparably more engaging vs. the SGCD but I have no experience with any other preamp. Besides these two, I’ve never heard a separate preamp at a shop or friends house. I like how listenable the sound is anywhere from 50dB to 90dB.

I tried DS direct for about 5 mins. and determined neither gain (0 or -20) setting was a good match for the S300. I’ve not tried direct to the M700 as I got the BHK at the same time.

I feel the volume control is simply better on the BHK than the DS. I use the DS volume (95-100) to ultra fine tune the output feeding the BHK. The noise changes slightly as well along with gain, but the difference is really academic mostly. Inexpensive but well made, 25’ Belden 1800F low cap with nice terminations from DS to pre, 2’ same cable to M700.

How much remaining time is there? (rhetorical) If I had the space and the power usage didn’t bug me as much as it does, I would have the BHK monos plus the pre.

For the past 3 years, the lovely Ascend Aoustics Sierra 2 and twin Rythmik L12 sealed servo subs. I use the subs about 70% of the time.

I tried direct XLR connection from DS DAC to BHK250, baseline noise was too high, I can hear it from my listening position which is 8’ from my Focal Sopra N2 speaker which has a sensitivity of 88-91, depending who was measuring it, engaging the -20dB attenuator of DS DAC didn’t help much. The baseline noise is much lower with the BHK Pre in the chain, now only noticeable about 1-1.5’ from the speaker. I usually listen at 35-42 of BHK Pre volume dial.

Brett66, you mentioned that you liked the sound from 50-90dB of BHK Pre. I assume that you achieved that by engaging the -20dB attenuator of DS DAC and using the Rothwell XLR -10dB attenuator between BHK pre and M700?

I don’t know how I gave the idea that I had a Stellar. Never had one.

Nope, I don’t use the DS attenuator, except occasionally to test. I feel the DS drives the BHK better without it but its very close and I could live with either. I don’t use any XLR attenuators either.

My system is plenty quiet for me. Changing the tubes in the pre has increased the baseline level but its definitely very tolerable.

My mistake, so many threads, so many people.

My mistake. It was Brady984 who uses attenuators.