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  1. #1
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    Default Preamp with DAC section

    Don't get me wrong, I love my Grant Fidelity W30 tube integrated amp. It has a tubed phono section, 24/192 DAC section, multiple analog inputs, headphone section, pre-in/out, volume control secondary output, remote control, and can run EL34, 6L6, or KT88 as output tubes. I currently have it being fed by my Squeezebox Touch through digital coax, Blu-ray player through Toslink, TV through analog in, and the W30 is powering the mid/high horns on my 3-way corner horns, while it's running out to a SS amp that is powering the woofers. Again, don't get me wrong as it's a great sounding set-up, but it does limit my flexibility a little in trying different amps. Even through the W30 does have an exterior in/out loop which means the unit can be used as a preamp, the output tubes are always on if the unit is on, thus you are reducing the life on your output tubes as well as needing a load on the amp to save the output transformers. It sound great as a preamp and I've used it many times for the role, but it is a hassle.

    Ideally, I would be keeping my bi-amp set-up with tubes on the horns and SS on the woofers (thank you onebadchad as I'll be trying the EL84 amp in this roll), so I'm thinking it would benefit me to invest in a preamp with at least two outputs to continue my amplifier set-up, but the preamp would also need a 24/96 DAC section as I do not prefer the DAC in the Squeezebox Touch. I think I would also prefer a SS preamp that I can leave on all the time, although there are a few tubed units out there with long life design which may be an option; remote control would be a must. Can anyone recommend a good, but probably not over $2K (new or used) preamp with these features? I've seen tons of great preamp, but very few with DAC sections. DACs with volume control could also be an option, but I don't think most of the are designed to be used with the volume control (AKA sound quality degradation).

    What can you suggest? I think a solid preamp with DAC section would allow me to swap amps in and out without changing the overall functionality and interface of the system; AKA WAUF.

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  2. #2

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    Benchmark HDR - only caveat being you will need y cables to split the output to your 2 amps.

    Your limiting factor here will be the 2 outputs (as you no doubt know). It might be cheaper to look for a pre with 1 set and just buy some Y cables which are also a bit hard to find (unless you go with like Signal Cable or another custom IC)
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

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  3. #3

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    The W4S DAC-2 is an excellent DAC, and can also function as a preamp. nspindel has one for sale in the FM now, as you've probably seen.

    To me, the question is, if you're going to go to separates in terms of amplification anyway, why not go to a separate DAC and preamp too? This will give you MANY more options, and you can experiment with switching out either one independently if you ever get curious.

    I bet a ~1k DAC plus a ~1k preamp will beat a 2k DAC/preamp... at the very least, it will allow you to tailor your sound more specifically.
    Last edited by falconcry72; 08-20-2012 at 01:16 PM.
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  4. #4

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    nevermind
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    Benchmark HDR - only caveat being you will need y cables to split the output to your 2 amps.

    Your limiting factor here will be the 2 outputs (as you no doubt know). It might be cheaper to look for a pre with 1 set and just buy some Y cables which are also a bit hard to find (unless you go with like Signal Cable or another custom IC)
    Actually, the HDR has a set of XLR (SS amp) and a set of RCA (tube amp) which would work fine for me as long as they can both output at the same time. That is a nice looking preamp...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by falconcry72 View Post
    To me, the question is, if you're going to go to separates in terms of amplification anyway, why not go to a separate DAC and preamp too? This will give you MANY more options, and you can experiment with switching out either one independently if you ever get curious.

    I bet a ~1k DAC plus a ~1k preamp will beat a 2k DAC/preamp... at the very least, it will allow you to tailor your sound more specifically.
    I've considered this as well, but I would have to do input switching at the preamp and the DAC which would be annoying. You are right that there are a lot more options by splitting the two, but keeping them in the same box does help with simplicity.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by zingo View Post
    Actually, the HDR has a set of XLR (SS amp) and a set of RCA (tube amp) which would work fine for me as long as they can both output at the same time. That is a nice looking preamp...
    Thanks to falconry72 for mentioning my Dac2. Not trying to plug my own sale, but...... I used to have the Benchmark DAC-1 Pre. Then I got the W4S DAC-2, and had them both at the same time for a shootout. For me, the W4S was the clear winner. In fact if you do some googling, somewhere out there you'll find a review comparing the Benchmark and the W4S. I recall the review saying something along the lines of "with the Benchmark, you're listening to a recording, while with the W4S, you're listening to a performance." The reviews were saying that the Benchmark has the more analytical presentation, whereas the W4S was more musical. I didn't really understand what that meant until I did the shootout myself. I still don't really understand what it means in terms of how to explain it, but when I listened to the two back and forth I understood what they were talking about.

    The Dac-2 also has balanced and single-ended connections with input switching, and a remote control.

    Regardless, good luck with your search. If you're interested in the W4S, you know where to find me...

    http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/wyred4/dac.html
    Good music, a good source, and good power can make SDA's sing. Tubes make them dance.

  8. #8

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    I love my Musical Fidelity CDPre24. It is a reference level Pre,DAC, and CD player in one utilizing the Nu-Vista circuit path. They are rare-ish, though, but can be had for $1500-1800 (were ~$3800 new). The only reason I'd ever get rid of it is if I needed something with HT-bypass. Or if I felt the need for 24/192
    design is where science and art break even.

  9. #9
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    I see the Onkyo P-3000R seems to have the functionality I'm looking for...

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  10. #10

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    The switching part can be an issue. I have an older Adcom I modded and it has 2 coax and 1 toslink and I do use all 3 inputs with one output and I never change the input on the pre-amp since the dac is doing all the switching.

    1- coax is for the SQB
    1- coax is for the DVDp if I want to listen to a physical cd
    1- toslink is for the TV. If I watch a movie on the DVDp I route it through the HDMI and then out the toslink in the TV into the dac.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by zingo View Post
    I see the Onkyo P-3000R seems to have the functionality I'm looking for...

    Attachment 74186
    I would bet the dac section isn't close what you could get going w/seperates. I suppose you need to compromise to accomplish what you want the way you want.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    The switching part can be an issue. I have an older Adcom I modded and it has 2 coax and 1 toslink and I do use all 3 inputs with one output and I never change the input on the pre-amp since the dac is doing all the switching.

    1- coax is for the SQB
    1- coax is for the DVDp if I want to listen to a physical cd
    1- toslink is for the TV. If I watch a movie on the DVDp I route it through the HDMI and then out the toslink in the TV into the dac.

    H9
    Tell me more about your modded Adcom. I've also considered taking a preamp and adding a DAC section if that is what you are referring to.

  13. #13

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    The Benchmark DAC is recording studio gear, it portrays the truth--warts and all. It's not built to be romantic, it's built for uncompromising accuracy. Some people prefer romance, I'll let my speakers do that conversion.

    Source: Squeezebox Touch/CIA Power Supply
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    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Subwoofer: SVS PB12-NSD

  14. #14

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    If you like the Grant Fidelity sound, why not go for the Grant Fidelity tubedac-11? If you need a phono setion you can add a phono pre to one of the inputs.

  15. #15
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    Good idea on the TubeDAC-11, but I like to be able to change the volume from the kitchen, so remote is needed.

  16. #16
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    ....

  17. #17

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    The W4S dac2 does have a remote. That is what I am running now. I was always interested though in how the tubedac 11 sounded though especially at that price point.

    Newrival suggestion, I can attest 1st hand that it sounds fantastic!

  18. #18

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    Looking through the archive, it seems like there have been quite a few Polkies who own/have-owned the MF CD Pre24. I really think that this would be exactly what you are looking for if you can find one. One sold recently for the practically stolen price of ~900 on ebay. It's the same DAC that is in the Nu-Vista 3D cd player, if you're familiar with that fantastic player.
    design is where science and art break even.

  19. #19
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    I think I'll just pick-up a close out Emotiva XDA1 DAC and call it a day...

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by zingo View Post
    I think I'll just pick-up a close out Emotiva XDA1 DAC and call it a day...
    If you do that be sure to get some ear plugs . That DAC with horns will be painful.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

    Pass Aleph 30; Eastern Electric Mini Max; Adcom GDA600; MIT S3/Z Pc; SDA 1C; Squeezebox; Tubes add soul!

  21. #21
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    I can't imagine the combination...

  22. #22
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    Hmmm... What about getting Bolder Cable's analog upgrade for my SB Touch and running a standard analog preamp? Hmmm... I have an email out to them to get more information.

  23. #23
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    I'm pulling this thread back up...

  24. #24
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    Would moving from the Grant Fidelity W30 to a preamp like the McIntosh C-712 be an upgrade when coupled to a quality amp? There is a local C-712 available, and even though it is a mini-Mc, I've still heard good things about it for 2-channel. Obviously these would be source dependent and whatever I decided to do with my Squeezebox Touch, but I'm assuming a quality preamp would be a step forward?

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  25. #25

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    If you find a Mac amp without autoformers, it's nothing special. Keep looking.
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

  26. #26
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    Good to know about the amps for the future. What's your opinion about this Mc preamp verses one of the "full-height" preamps?

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    To be honest, their full size SS preamps are ok...nothing special. I wouldn't imagine the half size units being anything special either.
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Friedrich Nietzsche

  28. #28
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    Has anyone tried the W4S mPRE? If it's half the performance of their DAC and pre combined, should be very good, right?

  29. #29
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  30. #30

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    I like the performance of the perfectwave dac with its built in pre, saves a fortune on ic's

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