DirectStream as Pre amp


#1

Hi

Thinking of simplifying my current setup by getting DirectStream and using it as a preamp. Would like to find out people’s experience of using it as a dac/preamp ?

thanks!!


#2

It works well.


#3

I would add that it is working well but result are in my opinion better if you use the balance connection.


#4

Currently my power amp is single ended RCA.

baocrazy said I would add that it is working well but result are in my opinion better if you use the balance connection.

#5

I’m using mine single-ended as well. I had preferred to use the DirectStream with a tube preamp, but after upgrading interconnects I prefer to use the DirectStream as a preamp.


#6

I would like to try do the same and get rid of my preamp, but I would need a fixed AV type input as well. I guess I could buy an ADC to I2 to feed into the DS, and somehow switch between fixed and variable output but it seems a bit messy. I should say I don’t yet have a DS as I am STILL waiting for my dealer to pull his finger out and arrange a demo… sorry, I’ll calm down now…


#7

I have used it as a preamp for years and it’s lovely - its volume control offering no degradation at all. I have found that inserting a few preamps, like the BHK and the Aesthetix Calypso can sound better - a lot better - but most preamps are that good, and so it’s better to go direct unless you can manage a BHK or similar.


#8

Hi Paul,

When will the BHK Pre-amp be available to buy ? I am looking to buy one as soon as they hit the shops… The DS and BHK300’s are absolutely incredible musical instruments and I just know the BHK Pre-amp will equally special…


#9

Thanks. Should be shipping in June.


#10

My experience:

DS + VTL 7.5 + Sanders ESL power amp = DS direct to the power amp is better

DS + ARC LS27 + Sanders = DS direct is slightly better

DS + Spectral 30SL + Sanders, better than DS direct


#11

tkiat, I sold my Conrad Johnson preamp when my Directstream arrived and neither I, nor my family/guests who heard both the before and after, “have ever looked back”. Good Luck on your own choice which, I feel is so much like most choices in this hobby, is strictly up to your personal taste(s). So, my advice is try both ways before you decide.


#12

Consider that a preamp cannot improve an audio signal, only degrade it. Fewer components adds less garbage.


#13
EldRick said Consider that a preamp cannot improve an audio signal, only degrade it. Fewer components adds less garbage.
I hear you. A similar approach would be a cable that act as a filter.

However I am of the opinion that there are nuances to your statement, like impedance and gain matching and the headroom aspect.

Also, if you don’t have a volume control like on the DS, SQ might suffer if you start eating on 32 bit resolution.

There has also been discussions around surplus of peak current capacities on the line out of a source vs preamp.


#14

One would indeed think that keeping a component out of the reproduction chain would be good. But, as Frode points out, a preamp is an active component. It does much more than simply add a volume control.


#15

Exactly. And I too used the logic of less is better in terms of components in the signal chain - and that logic mostly applies but not always. When the preamp is of a certain quality, as is the BHK Signature, placing it in the signal path of the DAC is better than straight in. How could that be?

Consider that not all components are perfect - and not all are suited to do their best jobs in a vacuum. For instance, while we know DirectStream’s volume control is lossless from a bit perfect standpoint, we’re not convinced music doesn’t sound a bit different at different settings because of what may be happening inside the DAC - just supposition, but it’s worth considering. Also, isolating the DAC from cables and power amplifiers can often benefit sound more than the slight degradation presented by a preamp.

Whatever the cause, it’s clear to me that placing a BHK between DirectStream and the amplifier is waaaay better than straight in.


#16

In Russia will be the BHK preamp (or DS DAC right now) the price is exactly the same as brand new Ford Focus from the dealership (2016 release, brand new car without a run). This is absolutely true, no joke. Because our PS Audio Russian distributor - "big fellow". Other Russian audio distributors "big fellow" too.

New Ford Focus


#17

Sure, but does the Focus come with a remote and balanced inputs?


#18
Paul McGowan said ...like the BHK and the Aesthetix Calypso can sound better - a lot better - but most preamps are that good, and so it's better to go direct unless you can manage a BHK or similar.
Ummm, I think, insert "not" between "are" and "that" was intended.

#19
It does much more than simply add a volume control.
Yes - preamps are useful for gain and impedance matching, for device selection, and as dynamic tone controls and distortion generators (warm tube-like sound, for example).

I view the former as mainly a matter of amplifier selection, the DS DAC has all the inputs I need, and I prefer to do without the latter.


#20

I think you will be hard pressed to identify an amplifier which will work better with a preamp rather than the DS alone on the basis of impedance matching. This is a non-issue.

And if you have experienced preamps solely as dynamic tone controls and distortion generators you need to get out more. :slight_smile:

Conceptually I fully agree with you; on a theoretical basis a preamp should never help. Annoyingly, real world experience points in another direction where preamps can improve the sound and typically, at worst, do no harm.

I like mysteries. They make me ask questions.