If your only source is the DAC, then it’s certainly worth testing the system without a preamp, as Elk suggests. If you need a preamp to accommodate additional sources (CD transport, phono stage, etc.), I’d look for a used BHK preamp. I’ve been using one of these for some time — first with the Mk1 DS DAC and now with the Mk2 — and I’ve been very happy with it. There is a nice one for sale in the Marketplace section of this forum. (I have not had a chance to listen to the new Gold preamp.)
I’d suggest a Pass Labs XP-12 (new) or Pass Labs XP-20 (used). I have the XP-12 driving an XA-25. It hits all the performance parameters you mention and side steps those you and I dislike. I considered an XP-20, but prefer NIB to used. Most content with my decision. Good luck!
Mine as well, the dumpster is on order… One for the gear, three for the LPs, and one for the CDs. I gradually donate my duplicates (LPs and CDs) to those that may appreciate them. Some sell, but I prefer to give.
With Pass-Labs XA160.8 monoblocks and PS DS-MK2, a pre-amp enhanced, significantly, the system’s musicality when compared to the MK (I & II) directly feeding the monoblocks. More organic, extended, and realistic. Overall, greater sense of cohesiveness, individual instruments and their configuration in creating an emotionally-evocative experience of music. Previously, I used the BHK pre-amp and currently the Pass-Labs XP-32 pre-amp. To my ears, specific genres, and particular system, the Pass pre-amp is superior when coupled with the XA’s.
I know a couple of folks prefer the new gold to BHK, but don’t rule out BHK. I’ve never tried the new gold DAC, but BHK has pretty much beaten half a dozen preamps I’ve owned. I am not sure how PS Audio would upgrade one of the best sounding preamps for half the price, but nothing’s impossible.
You should consider trying, at least one more. Find a used Platinum Colossus *mk.1 or mk.1.12). You never know. I have heard quite a few preamps. They all bring something to the game. But you don’t know what is possible if you just don’t.