Ultimately, I would prefer to have both, but have a few thoughts. I’m currently using a recently upgraded McCormack DNA-1 paired with the stock RLD-1 preamp. The preamp is about 15 years old but still sounds good, I realize there are better options and I’m confident it’s one of my weak links. I have debated upgrading the internals of the preamp but given the cost I’m considering options.
My DAC is a Marantz SA8005 and doubles as my CD/SACD player. I tried a VTL 2.5 and it just didn’t mate well with the DNA-1, likely a gain issue. The VTL sounded great, but the hiss or tube rush was too much, easily audible from 10’ away. No luck rolling tubes, the Mullard’s did better than others but at no time was it quiet, or remotely quiet. The 2.5 was an earlier model with no gain options.
I wanted to begin with the SGC preamp/DAC but feel I will only begin the DAC/preamp upgade again, but still an option since the price is attractive.
So now I’m considering starting with the preamp and waiting on a DAC, or vice-versa, that’s my dillema. The BHK preamp looks like it could be a possible end-game unit for at least a number of years. My question is compatibility. My RLD-1 specs are:
Output Impedance: less than 100 ohms
Input Impedance: 13.5 Kohms
The DNA-1 input impedance is 100K ohms
Would the BHK preamp mate well with the DNA-1? I want to mention that currently the DNA-1 is unbalanced only, XLR is a possible option in the future for the DNA-1.
Given the cost of either the BHK pre and the DS DAC, I will likely only go for one or the other for now, also hoping for something to come along pre-owned at TMR.
I also believe the DS DAC would be a quite a substantial upgrade from the SA8005, my gut is saying to source a BHK pre first. I do stream Tidal and use an Aries Mini for my streamer, the DS DAC would fit in well in this regard.
With regards to the amp, the DNA-1 has been Ultra Modified and is really a stout performer, if I upgraded I would likely need to go with mono amps at quite a higher pricepoint. The DNA-1 is truly a wonderful amp and does just about everything right.
Any input appreciated, hopefully I gave enough info. All input and criticism appreciated.