DSD with BHK stereo

so I want to do this while I am saving for the BHK pre. Any issues other than no trigger?

When you say “DSD” do you mean the DirectStream DAC? If yes then it is is perfectly fine to run it direct to the amp and using the DS (many of us, but not all refer to the DirectStream DAC as the “DS”) volume control. It is best to kept the volume above 50 and using the 20dB attenuator in the DS works for most of us. While you probably know it, the BHK Pre is on sale right now for $3999, an excellent price and allegedly not going to be repeated. I am personally struggling with the “need” for a preamp, but if I do really need one the BHK is the one for me.

Thanks for the response … the sale is awesome and I am taking advantage of it for the bhk amp - one at a time for now, I do have the DSD DAC with the STELLAR stack…


Be sure to report back with your impressions.

Tom and pmotz - I would think that “most of us” do not need the attenuator, and keep the DS at 100 (some argue that 99 or a couple less is better, but we all argue about anything). Before we had the ability to adjust the digital volume and attenuate our DACs or CD players, they were all at nominal line level. But if you are using nothing between the DAC and the amp - which is a relatively recent thing - it may be true or needed.

My feeling is that any decently transparent or happy (euphonic, tubed, etc.) gain stage between a DAC and the amp is generally better than direct. I totally get the concept of less is more, but in this case, it usually isn’t.

tomspeight said

so I want to do this while I am saving for the BHK pre. Any issues other than no trigger?

I would recommend the BHK Pre-Amp first, then the amp. I ran my DS directly to the A-21 amp and it was great , then I added the BHK Pre Amp, Oh my oh my, what an improvement in SQ. I was using a Parasound A-21 amp and then, I added the M700 mono blocks, and another small but nice increase in SQ. Now, if I had not added the BHK pre and added the BHK amp first I probably would not have noticed much difference. Give most any quality amp an outstanding source and it will shine. Give a great amp a ho hum input and you get, well, ho hum output. Just my 2 cents, your mileage may vary.

several smart folks telling me to get the pre first — so, plans change — many thanks for the inputs cool

I will feed back results and impressions …

Just to clarify my point, use of the attenuator was when using the DS direct to an amp and getting appropriate sound level with the volume in the 50+ range. When using a pre the DS can/should be run at 100 without the 20 dB attenuator, or 106 if using the 20 dB attenuator to reduce the output into a very sensitive preamp.

To reiterate what I have said in the past about my preamp experience, I had an Audio Research LS-25 Mk II which I had to use with the PWD for proper sound levels (I was consistently in the 30’s and 40’s which is bad). When I got the DS I found the levels matched much better and the sound was better (I consistently run in the 80’s for CD’s and 60’s for streaming, attenuator engaged) when not using the LS-25. Since the LS-25 is no slouch I’ve had my doubts as to what a BHK pre can do for me. I know that’s a personal problem, but others may share it (the problem that is). I will say the overall consensus is BHK pre = wonderful sound. Anyone care to disagree?

There is no way to tell until you audition a BHK pre in your system.

You can always return the BHK preamp if it doesn’t knock your socks off. The only real risk here is if it will.

FWIW. Into Wilson Sasha IIs with BHK 300s, my BHK pre at 100, dsd dac @ 28 to 32.

Elk said

There is no way to tell until you audition a BHK pre in your system.

Fully aware of this, but I’d still kind of feel like a schmuck if I did return it. I’m also not looking forward to one more component to put in the rack (which is full right now) and another set of good interconnects and another AC-12 power cord.

Yeah I know. I faced that recently with the Decware ZTPRE that was offered to me for sale. . .deciding to try the preamp and keeping it would mean a cabling expense as well. I ended up buying two really expensive balanced interconnects to really maximize it in my system (luckily I already had another AC-12!) I soon forgot all about that though. . . love this preamp to the moon and back!

I’m sure that there would be no problem returning the preamp to PS Audio or the dealer if it is not a great fit. And no reason to feel a schmuck, at all.

I also hesitate to buy things I may return, but PS Audio understands we need to hear components at home and is delighted to let us try.

We are delighted to have people try these at home and while I know it’s a hassle for people, we encourage you to do so.

I wish I could help with this idea of “feeling like a schmuck” if you have to return it. I occasionally suffer from the same thing and I want to understand what motivates this feeling of shame on the part of buyers. Understanding our emotions is something important to me because the logical side struggles with them.

I like a certain kind of grapefruit: Pomellos. They are amazing and I continually try and pawn a bite off on others in the hope they too will get on the bandwagon. It rarely works and every time I offer there’s this hesitancy - as if people are worried they will let me down when they don’t like it. It is real and interesting to me.

I think it has to do with connection. Right now we all feel connected. I believe the BHK is the best sounding set of amplification in the world. I am not shy about expressing that opinion because I not only believe it, but it comes from deep within my core belief. Now, you connect with me. We relate to each other. You take it home and it doesn’t fit your system and you return it. You must feel suddenly disconnected and that’s something no one wants.


Logically this makes no sense. The BHK may or may not achieve synergy with your system, After all, it is but one component in a series of interconnected items. I don’t have your speakers, room, interconnects, sources, etc. So we are taking a risk when we try a piece of kit at home. The risk of disconnection. Maybe, even worse, a risk that our system doesn’t live up to a certain standard or worse yet, we don’t measure up.

It is risky from an emotional standpoint and I admire those willing to step up to the plate and put their emotions on the line.

We know that without risk there is no reward. But we also know it’s safer and that balance of risk-taking and safety seems at the core of every decision we make.

I do hope you stretch out and try it. But I certainly understand if you don’t.

I feel it is my responsibility to make purchase decisions. It is not the responsibility of the seller or manufacturer if I make a mistake. Thus, I do not like returning anything unless it is clearly faulty.

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Thanks Paul & Elk! When I purchase items at a large retailer, say Home Depot or Lowes, I don’t have the issue so much if I haven’t used the item (or if defective). In the case of the BHK pre I will have crossed a threshold and feel more uncomfortable returning it since I have used it. I’m sure I can get over that, but deep down I may have to acknowledge that maybe I can’t hear that well any more (or worse, never could). It’s that humbling feeling we all dread, but it’s worse when it’s something you love so much, i.e., listening to music. Adding the BHK pre to the system will require me to find somewhere else for my turntable (and NPC and SDS), but that’s the “fun” of this hobby…

Yes, the having used it, is a part of my reaction as well. I do not like taking advantage. Yet, buying and returning is part of our culture.

You already have a superb preamp. It comes down to preferences. If you do not hear a difference or meaningful difference, keep your current preamp. Otherwise, keep the one you happen to prefer. In this sense there is no incorrect answer.

I get it guys, but I am trying to convince you both we actually WANT people to try it and use it. When the unit comes back, and it does sometimes do that, we make sure it is in new condition, run it back through test, rebox and send it on its way. Sure, that costs a little but it’s worth it.

Look. We live in a new era. We don’t have the luxury of touch feely at retail stores much anymore. I’ve often considered even having a lending library of used kit people could borrow before committing, only we rejected that idea because it’s a hassle to pack up and return only to then order a new one and start the process over.

The beauty of in-home trial is if it does work, you’re good to go.

Paul…Thanks!!! It’s the never ending commitment to product and customer that puts PS Audio heads and shoulders above the competition. To be able to try… before you buy… gives a hell of a lot of credence to your company’s business ethics. As always…”kudos”to the PS Team…77_gifparty_gif