It is incorrect to call them a pair of active speakers. They are far more than that. The most obvious and intended way to use them is to plug in an ethernet cable and you’re done. Besides the actual sound quality, the main feature is the DSP/room correction. The whole idea of the 8c is that they are tuned to your room. The conventional approach is to tune your room to the speakers. 8c, which are designed as much for studio as domestic use, are designed to be tuned to the room. The actual processing is done by a digital crossover. The equalisation process is not like Dirac that adjusts over the entire spectrum, its very similar to what Devialet have just implemented, where you adjust for peaks and troughs individually, and you can do each channel separately.
You can use an external DAC, Darko used his DSD DAC, but I don’t see the point. Analogue signals are digitised anyway, and I have no problem with that at all.
An external pre-amp really should be ancient history with hardware like this. It’s app controlled, you need the app to program the system, and 99% of users will be controlling it from an app. The remote app does not have to be connected to the internet, so you can use and old phone or tablet with no password barrier and no interruption from other mobile services.
You don’t need a streamer. I think they are now Roon Ready, or at least in beta. That was my main reason for not having a home demo, I’ve heard them in a studio but that doesn’t really count.
I’ve not had any issues with Class D amplification for the more than 10 years that I’ve been using it. The main difference in sound will be with your current speakers, whatever they are.
I delayed on a demo because last year they could not be demonstrated with Roon. Now that my Devialet system has almost identical DSP software, the raison d’etre has largely gone.
The 8c also offers superb value for money.
The idea of having 8c AND a hi-fi stack makes no sense to me. The whole idea is to input a digital stream and output highly dynamic room-corrected sound. You don’t need any other components to do that.