My DirectStream DAC feeds directly into the BHK 250 amp via balanced cables. With good recordings streaming on Qobuz, it produces the most live-like performances of any rig I’ve ever had.
I also have vinyl. My new generation Technics 1210 GR turntable with Ortofon 2M Black cartridge feeds the same DSD DAC via a Pro-ject Tube Box DS2 going into a very small $15 D to A converter, which supports a sampling rate of 48KHz. Switching between PC (USB) and vinyl (COAX) is done through the DSD DAC.
I have no interest in recording my vinyl. I have only two audio sources and simply want to avoid spending money on a preamp for switching purposes when the DSD DAC is capable of doing so, or to improve SQ if unwarranted.
Underlying this approach is the belief that unnecessary electronics are best left out of the signal path. Paul used to believe that as well until he heard the BHK preamp. He could not explain why the BHK preamp improved SQ and neither could Bascom when asked in a video.
When I originally posted that the SQ from my vinyl using this method was quite good, a commenter said he followed the same methodology with good results. Another said digitizing an analog signal then converting it back to analog with the DSD DAC did not make SQ sense,
At that time I did not have a preamp. However, I was curious to see if a preamp in the chain did indeed improve SQ. I could not get my hands on a BHK preamp but I invited audiophile friends to bring their preamps over to my home for a listen. Among the components were preamps from Benchmark, McIntosh and Mark Levinson.
With four pairs of ears listening, the SQ with any of those preamps in line did not improve the SQ from the DSD DAC going directly to the BHK 250 amp.
Many things beyond my pay grade could be at play. I wish Paul or Bascom could have an explanation for why a preamp in the chain (between the DSD DAC and the amp) improves sound.
Absent that, following my experiment I do not see any need to acquire a preamp to improve on SQ. The PS Audio DSD DAC, for some reason, can process the 48Khz sampled analog signal from my TT in such a way as to make the need for a preamp unnecessary. The PC originated signal also seems to be good enough not to require a preamp.
I suspect there may be many PS Audio customers doing the same thing that I am doing. Perhaps there is a silent majority out there. If there is, it would be nice to hear from them. I am fairly sure that the experiment will not convince those who doubt that digitizing an analog signal only to reconvert it to analog makes no SQ sense.
My purpose in doing the experiment was to determine if I needed to spend money on a preamp in order to improve SQ from my vinyl or my DSD DAC. I’m now convinced I do not. For me, that is all that matters.
Beyond that I do not want to generalize. I offer the results simply to inform others that spending $15 on a D to A test may, if their circumstances warrant it, help to avoid spending a few thousand on a preamp.