M700s and more than one source - do I need a pre-amp?


#1

Hi All,

I am a proud and very happy owner of the DS senior and have been flirting with buying the M700s for a while now.

My current set-up is:

2 channel sources into the DS DAC and the DS into my Roksan K3 integrated amp.

Surround sound sources into my Marantz SR7010, which in turn drives the Front R&L speakers via the HT Bypass inputs on the Roksan K3.

This works a dream as the HT Bypass from the Pre-Outs on the Marantz means the Marantz controls the volume of all speakers for surround sound and effectively treats the Roksan as a power amp.

Now if I buy the M700s then I know the DS DAC should work well directly into the M700s. And I’ve read that the jury is out on whether the DS DAC is better with a Pre-Amp or not. But the M700s only have one set of inputs so I’m unable to hook the Marantz’s Pre-Outs to the M700 at the same time as the DS is connected.

Two options seem to be either a speaker selector switch like the Beresford. Or a Pre-Amplifier that has HT Bypass.

I’m not convinced with the idea of a speaker switch, though that might be the cheaper way to go. But then buying a pre-amp to effectively bypass it’s functions and just enable multiple inputs seems odd.

The likes of the Parasound Halo P5 seems like an option.

Does anyone have experience of doing anything similar here with the M700s or S300?

Any guidance on pre-amps that go well with the M700/S300 in general?

Or any recommendations on how I could implement the M700s without losing my easy surround sound capability that I currently enjoy.

Thanks in advance,

Alan


#2

Additional question. Assuming pre-amp is the best way to go here my budget would be $1000-2000. So the BHK is out as I’m not spending 6k on a pre for a 3k power amp.

Is any particular type of pre-amp best suited for pairing with the M700s and DS?


#3

The Stellar Gain Cell DAC is also a full fledged pre-amp with Home Theater Bypass. You wouldn’t need the DAC section obviously as you own a DS but it should certainly mate well with the Stellar M700’s. Great little amps, by the way. I have a pair in my second system. I use them with my old Rogue Athena tube preamp. I suspect the M700’s will work well with most preamps.


#4

Hi SteveM2,

I hadn’t considered the SGC DAC as the word DAC was putting me off. I’ll take a look.

Dumb question but the HT Bypass function is presumably bypassing the DAC as well as the Pre-Amp/volume control ?

Thanks,

Alan


#5

Yep.


#6
BigAlMc said

Hi SteveM2,

I hadn’t considered the SGC DAC as the word DAC was putting me off. I’ll take a look.

Dumb question but the HT Bypass function is presumably bypassing the DAC as well as the Pre-Amp/volume control ?

Thanks,

Alan


You’re right and that’s always been a sore spot for the GCD. The DAC part of the name is endearing to DAC people but a put off to preamp people - and the opposite is true. We probably should have named it something like the Stellar Omnibus which doesn’t refer to anything specific.

#7

Thanks Paul,

I’m giving it a look. I guess it’s hard to get the balance right when naming new products. The SGC is £1700 here in the UK so if I’m adding that sort of money to the bill then I kinda want to convince myself that the majority is for the pre-amp and not the DAC that I won’t use. No offence to what I’m sure is a great DAC but I love my DS too much to consider any infidelity! (pun intended wink).

A cheaper pre-amp from another manufacturer, like say Parasound, perhaps makes sense given my limited usage. But then you get into the whole ‘what if I hear the pre and it detracts from the SQ of the M700s’ spiral of worry! pulling-hair_gif

Regards,

Alan


#8

Alan, if you buy the SGC DAC and M700s together, hopefully you get a discount. Especially if it’s from the same place you purchased your DS DAC.


#9
BigAlMc said

Hi SteveM2,

I hadn’t considered the SGC DAC as the word DAC was putting me off. I’ll take a look.

Dumb question but the HT Bypass function is presumably bypassing the DAC as well as the Pre-Amp/volume control ?

Thanks,

Alan


Hi Alan,

The HT bypass bypasses the DAC and sets the gain cells to unity gain. There isn’t a potentiometer or standard attenuator to bypass, which is one of the GCD’s strengths as a preamp.

Unlike many DAC/preamp combo’s on the market, the GCD is a full fledged analog preamp; analog inputs are not converted to digital. Instead of subtracting from the M700’s sound, a good analog preamp like the GCD will improve tonal balance and macrodynamics.

If you decide against the GCD, I still encourage you to seek out an active preamp. In my experience, its always been a critical part in achieving correct tonal balance and musicality.

-Darren


#10

Thanks Darren,

Appreciate the feedback.

I’m kinda leaning towards the Hegel P20. It’s a bit more expensive than the SGC but at least all the cost is going towards the preamp function rather than 50% going towards a DAC I have no use for.

Hegel have also really impressed me with their SQ at the last couple audio shows I attended. Am hopeful that the P20 with the M700s makes a killer combo!

Cheers,

Alan


#11

Hi Alan,

Yup, should be a good match. I recommend utilizing the balanced outputs on the Hegel. The M700’s certainly excel when driven with a balanced line stage.

Enjoy!


#12

Thanks Darren,

That’s very useful to know.

I’m currently using QED Signature cables between my Directstream and Roksan. I was going to have to invest in decent cables for the Pre to Power stage anyway. So based on this perhaps I need to look at 2 sets of XLR. DS to Hegel and Hegel to M700s.

I’m getting excited about hearing your M700s soon. Been coveting these for what feels like a long time now.

Many Thanks for the input.

Regards,

Alan

PS FWIW I asked previously about reviews of the M700s. Well I’ve yet to read a review (other than on here). I’m buying the M700s unheard, unreviewed and on-trust. I love the PS Audio approach and have no doubts that these amps will significantly improve my listening experience.


#13

Please post an updated when everything is in and sorted out.