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  1. #1

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    Default DAC/Preamp Combos

    Are there any DAC/Preamp combos out there that sound better than equivalently priced separate DACs and Preamps? I see the potential for a $3k combo to sound better than a $1.5k DAC + $1.5k preamp, but it doesn't seem like it exists? What say you?
    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

  2. #2

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    You're wanting both analog and digital inputs?

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  3. #3

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    W4S has one, also the Parasound P5 has a dac, just off the top of my head.

  4. #4

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    Classe makes one, but you need to go to their web-site for the model number.

  5. #5

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    Benchmark HDR
    Mac c48 or c50

  6. #6

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    DAC/Preamp combo is a bit vague. Just about every DAC nowadays is a digital preamp, and even cheap pieces like the Grant Fidelity TD-11 and the Musical Fidelity Clic have analog inputs as well. I think the implementation of a preamp with a DAC is much different than that of a DAC with a preamp function, and I'd imagine the former to probably be a better design overall.

    Its getting to the point though that, unless you're using vinyl or another pure analog source, a DAC/pre combo is the way to go. I don't think its quite there yet, but I can see a day in the not so distant future that it will become the new standard.
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveinaz View Post
    You're wanting both analog and digital inputs?
    Good question. Analog inputs would be nice but not necessary.
    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

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    W4S has one, also the Parasound P5 has a dac, just off the top of my head.
    I like the DAC2, and while at $1500 it probably does sound better than many $750 DAC + $750 combos out there, it does not sound better than my Audio GD NFB-7 + Audio Research LS-15 combo, which it shouldn't.

    I'll look up the P5.
    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

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    Classe makes one, but you need to go to their web-site for the model number.
    hmm I bet Classe's offering is nice. I'll check it out.
    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

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by brianle View Post
    Benchmark HDR
    Mac c48 or c50
    The HDR ain't gonna do it for me. I'll look into the Mac's. Thanks.
    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

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by falconcry72 View Post
    I like the DAC2, and while at $1500 it probably does sound better than many $750 DAC + $750 combos out there, it does not sound better than my Audio GD NFB-7 + Audio Research LS-15 combo, which it shouldn't.

    I'll look up the P5.
    Might be below your standards, but the Essence HDACC obliterates the AGD NFB-5 in every category. I think it has one analog input.
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by DSkip View Post
    ...I think the implementation of a preamp with a DAC is much different than that of a DAC with a preamp function, and I'd imagine the former to probably be a better design overall.
    Don't care either way as long as it sounds better.

    Quote Originally Posted by DSkip View Post
    ...Its getting to the point though that, unless you're using vinyl or another pure analog source, a DAC/pre combo is the way to go. I don't think its quite there yet, but I can see a day in the not so distant future that it will become the new standard.
    I feel the same way, and like you, I'm not sure it exists yet. If it does exist though, I want to try it out.
    Last edited by falconcry72; 01-14-2014 at 05:17 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

  13. #13

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    Default

    To make it more specific, I'm looking for a DAC/Pre or Pre/DAC that can best my Audio GD NFB-7 DAC + ARC LS-15 Preamp combo for $3k on the used market.


    Antelope Zodiac?

    PS Audio PerfectWave?
    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

  14. #14

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    Beating the arc isn't going to be easy.
    I say stay where you are or just upgrade the DAC.
    "The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." --Thomas Jefferson

  15. #15

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    Peachtree Grand Pre??
    Its no longer in production and could be had for fairly cheap....maybe.
    2.0 - Zu Audio Omen MK-1B's, Peachtree Decco65 ,Zu Mission SC's, Audio Technica TT, Bugle2 & Bottlehead Reduction Phono Pre's, PS Audio UPC200, Doug's Int's
    HT - Anthem MRX300, RTIA3's, RTIA1's, CSIA4, DSW400, 55ST30, APC H15, 360 Elite, Panny DMP-BD35K


    Looking for new homes....
    MIT EXp2 Cables
    Anthem MCA20

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by sucks2beme View Post
    Beating the arc isn't going to be easy.
    I say stay where you are or just upgrade the DAC.
    You are probably right. I was hoping that going the combo route would allow me to upgrade without spending money... wishful thinking. DAC might be the weak link.
    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

  17. #17

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    The ps audio perfect wave dacs are garbage preamps, the only way to get away with it in that function is to use a tube amp with it. I did the ps audio with wyred 4 sound, rotel 1552 , Anthem and krell all with top notch wiring and it still fell...... flat

  18. #18

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    Might a lightly used Oppo 105 Modwright version work?

    http://www.modwright.com/modificatio...dp83se-mod.php

    It's late, really late (for me) . . . so I haven't read the entire thread . . .forgive me if I over looked stuff
    Mains Polk SDA SRS 2 (modified) Sub M&K MX-100
    Power Pass Aleph 30 & Adcom GFA 5802
    Power Conditioner Furman Elite 15 PF i
    Rears Definitive Technology BP-2
    Center Definitive Technology C-1
    Pre/Pro Integra DHC 40.1
    Pre Cary SLP-98 Hot Rod
    LCD Samsung LN46B750
    Source Oppo 105
    Wires MIT S3.3

  19. #19

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    NAD has their direct digital stuff. No DAC needed, digital all the way to the amp.
    2Ch Tube Audio Convert

  20. #20

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    Theater Room: Pioneer Elite SC-35, RTi12's, Csi5, Fxi5's, Fxi3's, ED A5-350 sub, Optoma HD20, 92'' Elite Screen, Xbox One, APC H15, MIT Exp 2 SC's, Pepster PC's

    Living Room: Martin Logan EM ESL's, Peachtree Audio iNova, MIT AVT2 SC's & IC's, Pepster PC, Sharp Aquos 60'', Sony BDP S-790, Airport Express

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  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by B Run View Post
    ...looks tasty...
    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

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlueFox View Post
    Classe makes one, but you need to go to their web-site for the model number.
    It's the CP-800, and it also looks very tasty...

    Too bad the front panel A-Type USB input is only for ipods and not external thumb drives/hard drives.... that would have made it a very versatile machine.
    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

  23. #23

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    I have used both a Benchmark DAC1 base model and my BM DAC/PRE in the preamp role, and both far outperformed any stand alone preamp I've ever owned (Keep in mind the Placette is passive linestage, so it gets a pass). The DAC1 USB, DAC/PRE, and HDR (as well as the new DAC2 series) all have 1 analog input in case you get vinyl fever. FWIW, Stereophile's remarks on the BM's performance in preamp mode was "It doesn't get much better than this...."

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  24. #24

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    One thing that seems common for most DAC/Preamp combos at this time is that they do not offer real tube preamp sections. The peachtree has a tube buffer, but that's not the same as true tube output. This makes me think that if I went this route, I may want to look into replacing my SS power amp with a tube power amp or tube monos.

    Is it likely that I can find a used tube power amp, or monos, that can best my VK-500 for under 2k?
    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

  25. #25

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    You have a really nice rig, why the change?

    Transport: Oppo BDP-103/USB HDD (flac)
    DAC/Preamp: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Cables: Kimber Hero/8TC; DH Labs D-75

  26. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by steveinaz View Post
    You have a really nice rig, why the change?
    I like to experiment. I've had this preamp for a couple years now, which is a long time for me :)
    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

  27. #27

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    It looks like McIntosh makes several preamps with digital inputs, one is full tube too... the C2500, but they're probably outside my price range. I also question the up-to-dateness of the digital sections of the Mac gear, not sure why though... probably because they don't go into much detail on their website.
    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

  28. #28

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    You can keep your ls15 and go with eastern electric minimax tube dac ....

  29. #29

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    Besting the Bat amp is going to be tough. I know Ted, RT1...was on the same path with the Bat 500 amp and wound up with Wolcott power amps.

    Maybe the Musical Fidelity integrated, a1008 that Troy is using. Amp/pre/dac.....though I'm not so sure on the quality of the dac they threw in. Probably could do better imho. But with all the money saved, you could easily pick up a great dac.

  30. #30

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    I think it's best to stick with the separates and upgrade one unit at a time.

    The Preamp with DAC integrated won't be anywhere closer to the separates even if you spend more than what you like.

    PS Audio, Meridian, Classe, and Sim Audio (I think) all made some kind of Preamp, DAC combo.

    But heck, let's don't forget the E M O T I C R A P made one too. :D
    Trying out Different Audio Cables is a Religious Affair. You don't discuss it with anyone.

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