amp or preamp next?


Hi everyone,

Well, after auditioning many integrated amps, I'm contemplating a move into separates. I have been running a NAD 375BEE integrated with an Oppo 105 (and was pleasantly surprised by the excellent NAD sound). Recently, I hooked up the Oppo directly to the main-in of the NAD, bypassing the preamp section, and the sound became more transparent and more revealing. Voices and instruments just seem to be much more realistic now.

So, I started thinking about upgrading the amp to something better than the NAD. Or, should I look for a preamp first? I'm not sure what I'd gain by placing a preamp between the Oppo and the NAD if I like the sound now, but I don't know much about separates.

Maybe a tube preamp??

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Scott
smrex13
I am assuming that when you bypassed the pre amp section of the NAD you lose the ability to adjust the volume. Because the sound was better without the pre amp I would suggest upgrading the pre amp first. It would gives you functionality back and appears to be the weaker link of the two.
If I'm not mistaken the Oppo uses a digitally-controlled analog volume control chip, controlled by the remote.

If so then I would do the power amp next- unless you need more inputs. What kind of speakers do you have? You might be pleasantly surprised at what a tube amp can do if you have the right speakers.
Keep using the Oppo direct or a passive, this will be the most transparent you will get bar none.

As Atmasphere said, look at the amp now as it is the weak link, depending on what speakers you have (which you have not mentioned, let us know) will determin the best amp solution for you to get.

Cheers George
Thanks for the responses. Yes, the Oppo has a volume control that I'm currently using w/the main-in. By the way, I'd be careful not to dismiss the NAD - it's a surprisingly good amp if you haven't had the chance to hear it.

I currently have Triton 7 speakers (89db, 3.7ohm minimum). I like them, but I have been toying with the idea of getting a more sensitive speaker like one of the Tekton Lores to open up other amp possibilities. My listening room is 13x15ft, and smaller tower speakers seem to be a very good fit.

I appreciate any other input you might have. So, are you saying that using the Oppo direct to an amp is going to give me better sound than running it through a preamp?

Thanks so much,
Scott
I think that less is almost always more in audio.
"I appreciate any other input you might have. So, are you saying that using the Oppo direct to an amp is going to give me better sound than running it through a preamp?"

It depends. Using a passive or a source that has a volume control is a very cost effective way to get good sound. An active preamp has the potential to sound better but only if you get a really good one.
Smrex13: So, are you saying that using the Oppo direct to an amp is going to give me better sound than running it through a preamp?

Thanks so much,
Scott

Yes, so long as you have a good match and enough gain.

Unless you like a particular colouration that a preamp gives, as they all have their own set of colourations/distortions, and is why they all sound very different from one another.

I have yet to hear one that sound just like a "straight piece of wire", as a passive can or direct can, when setup right.

Cheers George
Big ass amp
then big ass speakers
rock on sally
If the Oppo is your only source and since it has its own volume control, I'd get a tube amp and go directly into the Oppo. No better immediacy than that, IMHO. Then if you want more bloom, add a tube preamp. An updated Dynaco PAS 2 or 3 is one of the best bangs for the buck, you'd be amazed at the extra warmth a tube preamp would bring....there will be lots of people who will say this product or that product, I'm tell you, a lowly PAS2 or 3 will simply amaze you. Many years ago, for a few months, I had a PAS2 as a loaner while I was getting a fix on my Stereophile recommended Music Reference RM5 mkII. When the MR came back, I thought the PAS2 was superior.
Keep in mind that if you use the Oppo direct, that it will be a good idea to keep your interconnect cables short. So your system will have to sit between the speakers.

With a good preamp, you can run much longer interconnect cables and thus put the front end of the system somewhere else than just between the speakers. A preamp could also be handy if you plan to use more than just the Oppo as a source.

But if you only plan to use the Oppo and short interconnect cables are fine- then run it direct into the amp. Again, if you have the right speakers, you may be pleasantly surprised at what a tube amp can bring to the party.
There is no need to worry about interconnect lenght when using the Oppo 105 direct into your amp. As it has an output impednace of 100ohm and an output voltge that's higher than most amps need into cliping. It will drive long interconnects better than most tube preamps can.

http://www.oppodigital.co.uk/UserFiles/Docs/PDF/BDP-105EU%20Direct%20Power%20Amplifier%20Connection%20V2.pdf

Cheers George
Don't know your power requirements but I currently run a Clones 25i integrated (25w/8 and 50w/4) and have never been happier....EVER. Easily sounds more natural, organic and just plain more like REAL music than any other preamp/amp combo I've had over the years. The two best preamps I've owned were the Bent TAP-X autoformer and Lightspeed Attenuator. Best amps were E.A.R. 890, Job 225 and a highly modded Dynaco. I would take this little !@#$%^&* black box from Funjoe in a heartbeat.
Just my opinion.
There is no need to worry about interconnect lenght when using the Oppo 105 direct into your amp. As it has an output impednace of 100ohm and an output voltge that's higher than most amps need into cliping. It will drive long interconnects better than most tube preamps can.

There is more to driving long interconnects than just output impedance. Another crucial aspect in success at this is avoiding putting any signal current through the shield of the interconnect.
Please, let us know, using the laws of electronics, how a run of the mill tube preamp is able to drive say 3mts or 4mts of quality interconnects better than the Oppo's output stage

Cheers George
I can't say how a run of the mill preamp can.

But I was not referring to such anyway; here is my exact statement:

Another crucial aspect in success at this is avoiding putting any signal current through the shield of the interconnect.

Most preamps, tube or solid state, and most passive controls too, put signal current through the shield. This makes the system sound vulnerable to the construction of the cable, i.e. is one of the reasons we hear differences between cables. Its not the only reason, but certainly one of them.
To pre-amp or not pre-amp....that is the question! Answers with certainty in either direction are simply opinions and most everyone has one of those.

The answer based on my experience and the experiences of countless others in this and other audio forums, is that it depends on all the other equipment involved and one's in-home musical reproduction preferences....

In other words, if your looking for a consensus there isn't one.

To be more specific, I wonder what you're trying to change, improve etc?

The much mentioned component synergy can't be underestimated. As you found, changing one component (in your case removal) can make a significant change, but is the change good, bad, or just simply different?

As simplistic as it is, no advice can come close to you're hearing what a new amp or even another pre-amp will do to your system.

I still fondly recall my initial movement from NAD-type amplification, to much higher-end. Electronically reproduced instruments sounded more like what I heard at my local concert hall & what my son played. Unfortunately, it was rather costly to obtain this difference. Different amplification with your ancillary equipment, in your room, in the NAD price range may or may not provide for you, the differences you're seeking. To make that determination, you just have to try the piece in your system. Hopefully, you have access to a nearby audio salon or a friend who could loan you several different pieces of equipment to audition. Otherwise, as good as some of the advice is here, out of the context of your room, your other equipment and your sonic preferences, it's pretty darn irrelevent.

Ok you need to present which non run of the mill preamp solves this problem you've put up.

And explain why with laws of electronic as I've asked before, so all who her that are able can analyse it, instead of just putting something out there in the wind with no explanations, as to why.

Cheers George
"Most preamps, tube or solid state, and most passive controls too, put signal current through the shield."

Wouldn't a good dielectric prevent that from happening?