DSD into a phono/solid state hybrid preamp

Hi Guys, I’ve ordered a DSD sr a couple of weeks ago but it looks like I won’t be getting it til the New Year, and It’s killing me having to wait. But it is what it is. Anyway, my question, to people with more experience and in the know, I have an Audio Research SP 14 (just sent to Audio Research for repair) phono hybrid pre amp, (a tube in the phono stage, solid state in the line stage). What do you guys think of the possible sound quality of running the DSD into that and then into my mono amps. Yay or Nay. I would just try it and answer my own question, if i had everything available, but talking about the possibilities seems to help with the waiting.


There’s a big controversy it seems about whether a good preamplifier in between the DSD and the amps sounds better than the DSD directly into the amps.

Yours is a good preamplifier. . . . I say the only real answer is to try it each way and determine which way you prefer. Or rotate the preamp in and out weekly. :wink:

I myself use a full tube preamp and definitely prefer the sound with the preamp in between the DSD and my tube mono blocks.

Your system must sound really excellent.
I do like the sound of a good tube set up, goose bumps. I used to use a full tube amp with the SP14 and the glow coming from the amp with the lights dimmed, and the sound just floating in its own space, magic. Alas, a long time ago. I auditioned the DSD, at a dealer, nicely detailed, 3 dimensional image just floating there, I got goose bumps. so I ordered it. I’m looking forward to trying the SP14 with the DSD and hoping it works(goose bump inducing).

My system sounds pretty darned good even if I have to say so myself. LOL. It could sound even better if I were allowed to set it up more appropriately, but alas my wife and my dachshund always outvote me.

I bet you end up with the preamp in the signal path. . . but I might be surprised, every room and system is different!

That’s too funny. I’m also in just about the same situation, my system is set up in the TV room, (supposedly temporary) with a big flat screen TV between the speakers. extremely horrible imaging. I’m building a dedicated room in the basement thinking I was going to set up everything there but my wife likes the music where it is. It definitely is not ideal, but, I see her point, the room is comfortable, central and a nice place to have a glass or two of wine, relax, talk and listen, without separating myself from the rest of the house by going to the basement, unless I can make that room just as comfortable, for her to want to come down, we’ll see.

I’m not going to take that bet, because I think you might be right with me keeping the preamp in there. I bought it new in 1990, and its been packed away for the last 20 years, and damn it, I want to use it. hopefully.

I have two Mapleshade racks (Ver. 2 and Ver. 3) and a TV on top between the speakers as well, and I’m saved by having a pair of speakers that incorporate omni-directional drivers and great great room-filling sound that I wouldn’t with conventional speakers. When I can bring these out into the room I can get even more “holographic” sound but really the sound is so good “as allowed” and I obsess about it about as much as I can without becoming a raving mad audiophile. . . :wink:

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lol. Aren’t we all, actually, raving mad audiophiles, even to a small extent? Or else we would have common sense and never get into this. But, what a great, obsessive, joy it is.
So, what speakers do you have that incorporate omni-directional drivers? Definitely sound interesting.

Does the SP14 handle balanced connections?

I know Lon has the Decware HR-1’s. For me, I have the Hegeman Model 1a omni-directional speakers. I also have a superb pair of dipoles. It is really entertaining to change things up, switching speaker pairs every now and then. Each set does things so well, in their own right.

Hi sixpack (hmmm :thinking:let me try and figure out what your favorite kind of beverage is, I know it’s mine in the summer months) unfortunately the preamp does not. also no digital inputs, everything purely analogue, which means all the hook ups will have to be RCA. I’m going have to figure out which inputs to plug the DSD into. Its going to be interesting. Its also going to be interesting to see how much its going to cost to have the SP14 repaired. I sent it off to Audio Research to repair the right channel. it stops working once its warmed up.

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Hey Jeff, Decware, I was just going through their site awhile ago, looking at the Zbit converter, because my preamp is all RCA, but I want to try just using single ended for now, the Zbit is an option i might use. Then I saw the amps they sell, beautiful, and, I got side tracked and spent over an hour going through and reading the specs of every amp they sell. I never noticed the speakers though, my eyes were only focused on tube gear. like a little kid in a toy store, I would absolutely love to try one of their amps. I just checked out the HR-1’s, a fantastic option that would have worked out for me. Now, I just checked out the Hegemans, it took a little searching ,a very interesting read and history lesson, wow, one of the first omni directional speakers built, then the company was sold to Morrison Audio, of Toronto, my home town :slightly_smiling_face: How did you manage to get those? Did you have to do any restoration on them? It would be an experience to hear those. They received great reviews back in the day, very nice.

Yes, thanks Jeff for filling in that I use the Decware HR-1s. Stopped my speaker hunt, I just won’t take them out of the system.

I’ve been using decware amps, preamps and speakers for over twenty years. I can’t imagine a system without them.

I use the ZBIT as my system does not like the wimpy single-ended output of the DSD in comparison to the somewhat more robust balanced output. a very transparent and useful component.

Hi 840wolf,
Sixpack is actually a nick name someone one I worked with gave me as I do not drink alcohol at all. I was curious if the SP-14 had other that unbalanced RCA input as if it does not you are stuck using unbalanced RCA. Does your power amp have balanced XLR inputs? If so give the DAC a try straight into the amp. Good luck with your preamp

@840wolf My Hegeman’s are really something special. I was very fortunate to find the set that I did. I was at Decware’s annual audio fest, “Deafest,” when one of the attendees busted out a pair of these speakers late one evening. They are very particular looking and his set was all original, and visually looked almost laughable. However, when he connected them up, nobody was laughing! Several of us had to pick our jaws up off the floor. I was so intrigued, I started researching those speakers as soon as I returned home. I found a seller who just sold a fully restored pair on Ebay a week prior. Seemed this gentlemen was quite the expert on all Hegeman speakers and had owned several pairs. I contacted him to see if he happened to have another set and as my luck had it, he did! He was in the process of fully restoring them. The cabinets were already in outstanding condition. As far as the drivers, he replaced the rubber surrounds, installed new spiders, had them re-magnetized, and polished the aluminum cones. I had him get rid of the terrible speaker terminal screws and replaced them with WBT binding posts. I also had him rewire all internal wiring with Duelund 2.0 solid silver wiring, as well as replace the 3uF capacitor with an equal value MIT Multicap. Lastly, he repainted the top portions of the cabinets where the drivers sit along with the metal grill/cage. Nothing was missed in the restoration. Once complete, he said it was the best sounding set he had ever restored, and he had done bout 10 pairs total. So, I was lucky that the timing of my search worked out and also to have found such an expert in these speakers with the skills to properly restore/upgrade them. The Hegeman Model 1a’s were J. Gordon Holt’s (former Editor of Stereophile magazine) undisclosed reference speakers for quite some time. They are special and a speaker I will never part with.

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I’m happy to find you are using a ZBIT, only because I could not really find any reviews of the unit. The amps I have are extremely revealing of what goes before them(a little bit of a down side because of that but when the source is good, they sing, and I really enjoy experimenting ) so I’m a little hesitant of using it and finding out it didn’t work, but you mentioned it retains transparency, so, that is a very good thing, Once I try with just the all RCA hook ups and am not happy, I think I’ll chance it, also putting the DSD into a preamp might just solve all the problems of not using balanced interconnects. It looks like I have a lot of options to try, am totally digging that :slightly_smiling_face: . Unfortunately for me, I received no word from my dealer if they found a DSD, which means, I probably won’t get one till the end of January. “The Horror…” ( from one of my favorite movies)

You’ll find some owner’s impressions here (including a lot of mine). I use both a ZBIT and a preamp and love “riding the gain.”


I will caution that Decware has an 8 to 12 week waiting time from order to shipment! They are busy as their Black Friday Sale was a huge success.

You know…I am huge firm believer in Karma and that “things happen for a reason” and “some things are just meant to be”, and that a “person can change his or her own fate”. Yours is an awesome story. Am very happy for you, they sound like they are exceptional. I read that review in Stereophile magazine in trying to find out more about these speakers.( I’m bragging now :slightly_smiling_face: ) I actually know one of the reviewers who submit reviews for Stereophile. I met him through one of the stores I used to buy my equipment from. So I ended up doing a few electrical jobs for him at his house, he was setting up his video review room in the basement, and a few other things he wanted done around the house. He and his wife, very nice people.

One would think I would have learned to, " never assume" I do know what happens if one does. Sixpack…Like, “Little John”, from Robin Hood, who definitely was not little, I know there is a word that describes that, for when a nickname is given to someone totally opposite of who they are. English was never my strong suit :roll_eyes: Anyway, I digress, Yes, my amps do have Balanced inputs and am currently using a CD player with a built in DAC fed directly into my amps via XLRs.
I have so many options once all the equipment arrives , I’m looking forward to it( impatiently) and that in itself is causing a lot of angst. The waiting…

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Thanks for the link, am most definitely going to dig through that, I just quickly checked, funny though,( blinded by the tube gear, I would say)I never got that far originally while going through their web site. But I will tomorrow, when there is more time. I love to read and learn :slightly_smiling_face:

Be sure to try the DAC directly connected to the amps. You won’t regret it especially if your preamp doesn’t not support balanced connections! The output of the DAC is twice as high with balanced as with unbalanced. I don’t want to discuss this too much in these forums as the hard sellers will be playing dog pile on the rabbit again.