Preamp vs direct


#1

I´m going direct in my power amp (Bel Canto REF500S) and this works and sounds fine. But i´m asking myself what´s better.

Are there any new thoughts or experiences with pre-amps (tube or solid state) and sound quality ?

Thx, JM


#2

Here’s my thoughts: it’s very system dependent. I think it depends on your interconnects and your preamp. And perhaps firmware. When I was using 1.21 I preferred the DS directly into my Torii Mk III amp using a VooDoo Cable UltraLinear interconnect and then an early version of the VooDoo Cable Stradivarius interconnect. The preamp seemed to add a bit of a damper on the dynamics and “realism.” When I upgraded to Pike’s Peak I was a bit uneasy about this configuration, a bit too bold and bright. I updated to a VooDoo Cable Stradivarius “Cremona Edition” interconnect and still felt restless listening. I then went back to 1.21 briefly and enjoyed the sound more. After that I decided to try adding my Decware CSP2+ preamp between the DS and Torii Mk III and this was like Goldilock’s pudding “just right” when using another pair of the Cremona Edition interconnects and Pike’s Peak. I’ve left that configuration in place and am really enjoying the system sound.

So I say: try 'em if you have them, interconnects and preamp in and preamp out. I was surprised to prefer adding the preamp this time but glad I tried it.


#3

I have an Audio Horizons preamp. My system sounds way better using the preamp with the DS DAC.


#4

Prefer through my Classe SSP 800, it’s got a good ana section.


#5

My system sounds better going through the preamp, a Calypso tube, than straight ahead. Although, I have also heard the opposite. It is very system dependent.


#6

Thank you all for your input. I learned i have to try a preamp. But which ? Solid or tube ?

This will be the next step on the never ending jouney for the best sound.

JM


#7

I vote tube, especially if you have a tubed power amp (but as you are asking I’d guess you don’t!)


#8

I love my SS Pass XP-20!happy-132_gif


#9

Currently I’m going direct in to tube mono-blocks or a dual-mono stereo power amplifier. Once the PWT/DSD have 500+ hrs I’ll re-evaluate but I’m sure interconnects could make a difference.


#10

I sold my VTL 7.5 after I’ve tried to connect the DS straight to my Sanders ESL power amp. Just a little bit less of dynamics but much more transparency and precision of soundstage.

In another system, the DS sounds better through a Tortuga passive preamp.


#11

For me removing the preamp layer was a big improvement, I sold it and keep enjoying the direct connection (no more veil…) to my (tube) power amp. However, the best way to find out is to experiment in your own environment, and obviously it will also depend on the quality and characteristics of the power amp.


#12

I always thought that the best preamp was no preamp :)


#13

That is what Paul and many others thought until they inserted a high grade preamp into the chain.


#14
herman said For me removing the preamp layer was a big improvement, I sold it and keep enjoying the direct connection (no more veil...) to my (tube) power amp. However, the best way to find out is to experiment in your own environment, and obviously it will also depend on the quality and characteristics of the power amp.
And the quality and characteristics of the preamp.

#15

Then there’s my experience. The one I’ll simply refer to as the ‘kissing your sister’ preamp. The worst of the lot… no difference whatsoever. The invisible preamp when mated to the DirectStream. No virtual or literal difference either way. As invisible as The Emperor’s New Clothes! I mean none, nada, zero, zilch… bupkus! How totally disappointing to not find even a friendly smidgeon to agonize over. The pre; a W4S Mpre! Gives whole new meaning to the best pre-amp/no preamp analogy! My biggest nemesis… ‘horizontal enhancement!’


#16

Horizontal enhancement sounds like a euphemism for gaining weight.


#17

In my system the PWD (I and II) sounds better with a preamp (PassLabs x1). The DS sounds better when connected directly to PassLabs x250.


#18
MevDinc said I always thought that the best preamp was no preamp :)
There has to be a pre-amp in the signal path, otherwise you have no volume control.

#19

Not if you are using a DS or other source with its own volume control.


#20

I “think” what he’s saying is that the DS then becomes a pre-amp by virtue of its volume control.