Anybody tried EMM DCC2 into preamp?

I use an Esoteric DV-50 as CDP. I love the Atma-Sphere MP-1/MA 2.2 (mod) combination/synergy and would hate to give up the MP-1, but want the best possible digital source, which is clearly the EMM DCC2 (+ transport).
I know that this unit functions as a preamp too and could make my MP-1 redundant. Has anyone used the DCC2 with a high quality preamp, eg Atma-Sphere, Aesthetix, etc instead of just straight into the amp, which is obviously more logical? Is there any chance that the synergy of the Atma-Sphere preamp/amp will even improve the sound of the DCC2 (+ EMM transport)? Anybody done that yet?
Clumsily phrased. What I meant was, has anyone compared the preamp in the DCC2 with their pre-existing preamp or specifically, the MP-1? I hope to compare it myself. (one day..............)
Or, alternatively, how good is the preamp in the DCC2?
For over a month I had the opportunity to compare both the Audio Note M-8 and M-10 tube preamps with the DCC2 preamp in my system. I consistently preferred the "liveness" and musicality of the tubed preamps over the DCC2 preamp, which was also excellent. I chose to use the "extra" preamp. However, if you compare the costs and space, I could make the argument and be happy with using the DCC2 as my preamp.

In case you have not yet come across it, I posted my assessment of the DCC2’s linestage vs. the First Sound Paramount. Please see the following discussion…
I think tubes help.
Jacob- Such verbosity :^)
A while ago I visited Fmpnd (who, with his lovely wife, are very gracious hosts and very fun people) who has a Reimyo CDP777 (very nice, BTW) and a DCC2, and I brought along the CTC Blowtorch. The DCC2 is good, and there may be some synergy when used with the CDSD, but Frank commented that he felt the Blowtorch was better, certainly in the treble. YMMV :) I don't have a DCC2 for comparison but am open to hooking one up to a pair of recent production MA-1s with or without a loaded MP-3 preamp, and alternately with the Blowtorch. A CDSD in the mix would be cool, too. By the way, I'm an Atma-Sphere dealer.
I have tried the DCC2 alone, into the amps with 3 different transports - it didn't matter which - on all 3 occasions, the DCC2 into the amp, compared with the DCC2 into the tubed preamp was night and day, apples and oranges, not even close to subtle. Enormous difference! Comparatively, the DCC2 as a preamp was cold, but mostly lean and without heft and body in the midrange compared to the preamp. I was anticipating selling my preamp and expensive i/cs when I got the DCC2, but no way!
With the Atma-Sphere MP-1, it sounds glorious, full-bodied, obviously the best sound I have heard through my system. But take away the preamp, and it is too thin and lean.
Obviously, my frame of reference may be different, because I have used the AS amps and preamps for about 7 months and am used to the spacious, dynamic, full-bodied sound, with a DV-50 and EMM DCC2 as DACs. But the DCC2 as preamp is not within shouting distance in terms of overall sound presentation, to these ears (and my wife's - who was eagerly anticipating the revenue from a set of Indra XLRs and AS MP-1 once I sold them)- she went upstairs to the sound of the DCC2 into the amp and came down an hour later after the MP-1 was in the system and said "That's beautiful! What did you do?" Actually, it wasn't me, it was Ralph..........
Maybe Mr Meitner needs some tubes in his output stage or else take away the preamp and sell cheaper.
But I'm not knocking the DCC2 - great, great digital source.
Best I've heard. But even better with a top-class tubed preamp.

JTINN will tell you that I told him the same thing with my DCC2 and NAGRA PL-L tube preamp.

That is until I let the DCC2 break in and got the CDSD.

I agree that tubes gave slightly more of that "air" but at the expense of pure transparency,detail and precision.

After A-B'ing many times it was clear to me that I preferred the accuracy of the DCC2 and was happy to recently cash in on my NAGRA & xtra VALHALLA IC.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I am using a tube amp in the mix ARC VT100 MKIII. The mix to me is just right.
I'm with Jjwa on this one. I thought my Aesthetix Calypso was much better than the DCC2 as a preamp..........until the DCC2 broke-in and I added the CDSD. The DCC2 with the CDSD is anything but thin or veiled. It took quite a long time to open up, but when it did it is marvelous. I decided to add tubes in my power amplification stage in the form of the VAC Phi 220 monoblocks.
Not in my house, not in my system, unless you consider about 500 hours on the DCC2 not broken in.
I cannot dispute your claim as I have experienced the same myself, with my tube preamp.

Are you using the CDSD transport? If not you may find that it's a whole different equation.
The CDSD didn't change the equation - the 3 transports used were: DV-50, CAL Delta and CDSD.
The CDSD did change the sound to a smoother, more silky, incredibly refined, almost Flawless presentation, but it still was measurably, palpably fuller, richer and more full-bodied through the preamp. No question, no doubt, confirmed by another listener. It is not something you have to "try" to hear - it was that obvious.
Springbok10- What amp(s) are you using? If ss, your findings do not surprise me; also what cables are you using? I think there is more to this then just CDSD/DCC2- the rest of the system will greatly influence what you prefer.

It also seems hard to determine just how good the preamp section of the DCC2 is when using it with transports. To me the fair way of doing this comparison would be to use the DCC2 solely as a preamp compared to other preamps- it has analog inputs and can be used as just a preamp.
I'm with you %100 on your assesement of the two listening situtations and am glad to have you authenticate my own experience.
Which is the more accurate is what I had to decide for myself.
Atma-Sphere 2.2 Modified by Jena labs with 7 driver tubes, re-wired Jena wires (when Jena was an AS service center) and RCA black base Drivers
Atma-Sphere MP-1 Mk II with upgraded caddock resistors preamp
Kharma CRM 3.2
Stealth Indra XLR DCC2 to preamp
PAD Dominus preamp-amp
PAD Dominus S/C
PCs: Electraglide Ultra Khan Rev 2 to DCC2, Electraglide Mini-Khan to preamp, Voodoo Silver Dragon to CDSD, Michael Wolff gain cords(4) to amps
I've often had equivocal experiences in Audio, where you really have to sit in the sweet-spot and carefully listen for subtle innuendos of timbre, tone, soundstaging and musical impact - of critical analysis to compare components. I've done this dozens of times with interconnects, CDPs and P/Cs. Sometimes it's very close - more brilliant & sweeter highs, softer, flabbier bass, leaner midrange - but this was a no-brainer to these ears in this system in this room. Just night and day. I am categoric about this statement.
Where is JTINN when we need him? (he was everywhere when he didn't get his equipment.........after about half a year heh,heh).

Springbok10, no dispute over the differences simply which one is the truer representation? Logically speaking, with the IC removed and shorter signal path you may argue the DCC2 but tubes do certainly add something to the mix.
By the way, don't let my posts in any way detract from the amazing clarity, finesse, low-level detail and silky richness that the EMM combination imparts to the music. And there's no background noise. Eerily quiet.It's quite stunning. Just more so through the Atma-sphere preamp.................
I have the DCC2/CDSD as a digital source. About 6 months ago, I compared the preamp of the DCC2 to my tubed preamp, AudioNote M-10. At that time, I preferred the M-10 (more soundspace, air, weight.) When I posted my observation, it was suggested that the DCC2 preamp was not broken and perhaps it was not a fair comparison. For the last 3 months I have been without my M-10 (being modified by AN.) Thus I have using and very much enjoying the DCC2 as a preamp exclusively. With time, the staging improved and the music developed more weight. I recently got my M-10 back and put it back into my system. To my ears, IMS, the M-10 was still much more preferable with the same comparative observations. However, I really enjoy the DCC2 preamp and would be happy to use it. BTW, my amps are 45 SETs with my speakers actively biamped.
This issue kind of reminds me of the "surround sound" button on my Sony receiver. Activated you get the body, soundspace and weight. I personaly prefer the transparency rather than perhaps the added "coloration". As JJWA pointed out "....which is the true representation...."
The DCC2 is obviously very good--for solid-state. But it doesn't cut the mustard. You need a tubed preamp. Or, alternatively, a tubed amp--something I have not tried. But my results were the same as Springbok's--night and day, even with tubed amps that were not state of the art.
Gladstone, interesting suggestion. What is the sound effect of a TUBED AMP with solid state preamp compared to a TUBED PREAMP with solid state amp? or both tubed?
In this case, I don't know, though FMPND's use of the tubed Tenor amp suggests that the Meitner preamp can be improved upon even when used with a tubed amp. The biggest things I noticed with a tubed preamp were: greatly increased dynamics and slam, more bloom and body, much bigger soundstage, and more detail. The Meitner seems lean, and somewhat astringent in the treble region.
The pristine clarity and neutrality seems compromised with the use of an alternate (tubed) preamp IMS.
I'm not sure that's true. I'll have to do further listening, but there does seem to be more detail using a tubed preamp, which was counter to what I expected. I, too, assumed that an extra interconnect and preamp would degrade, not improve, the signal, which is why I didn't even bother trying a tubed preamp for about 9 months. When I did, I was shocked at the improvement. We're not talking about small changes. There's a majestic quality with the tubes that's absent otherwise.

Upsetting to hear your observations are similar to Sprinkbok. Certainly, Springbok's equipment is up for this challenge and it is upsetting to hear his A-S monsters still sound better with the tubed pre. Just curious what your associated equipment is to make this observation.

I am also curious have similar observations been made with the Switchman ?

Given these similar observations, it will be interesting to see who is the first to look into modifying the DCC2 with tubes (if possible).
Magnepan 20.1, Omega mono blocs, VPI HR-X, Meitner CDSD.
Gladstone, glad to hear you share my ears:)
Thom_y, your post is very perceptive. I believe that the DCC2 is in serious need of tubes. I'm sure one of the modders will have a go if he can get his mitts on one! But who wants to donate his DCC2? Not I!! And I'm sure Mr Meitner isn't about to enter the tube domain............If I was a modder, I'd buy a DCC2 and do it and have the best DAC ever. But then, I don't know what that would entail. Maybe one of the techies in A'gon can tell us?
Much of the magic is in the power supplies as well... And it may not just be tubed preamps, I hear there's a little darting Dartzeel on the way as well...
Thom_y. A tubed DCC2, as you suggest, could be magical.

The merits of an AUXILIARY tubed preamp connected to the DCC2 over an INTEGRATED SS preamp-dac (and all the benifits it should logically bestow) is the essence of this thread.

A review of many of the AUDIOGON "virtual systems" indicate an absence of an independant preamp and it would be interesting to hear the opinion from some of these owners

You have a good point There are many listed as using the DCC2 direct and presumably they are very happy with the results ... it would be great to hear input from those using the DCC2 direct into their amps (also Switchmans direct into their amps).
Right on. Even Mr.EMM himself from the land of OZ connects directly. You would think that he of all people would have a few xtra preamps lying around to fiddle with....maybe he's trying to save electricity to pay for those behmoth speakers of his.
Any updates on this thread? Has anyone else tried the DCC2 in a high quality preamp?

How would the preamp section of the DCC2 compare say against the VTL 7.5 or ARC Ref 3? Or the new CAT preamp? I want a fully balanced preamp if there are any other contenders I missed (I know I have).

I've been nothing but smiles since adding my VAC Phi 220 monos and their sound quality is tempting me to try the VAC Phi 2.0 Master Controller as my preamp and use the DCC2 strictly as a dac. Or try one of the aforementioned preamps. I feel the only *possible* source of component improvement would be trying a separate state of the art preamp. I would be adding another set of interconnects and passing the signal through an additional component. A step backwards perhaps? I'm going to try to get a loaner on one the preamps mentioned and give a listen.
I spoke with a gentleman this weekend who prefered it to his BAT VK-51-se. Sorry I cannot give you more detail..we did not talk about it that long. The only thing I remember he said was that he felt the DCC2 provided more body. It is probably an example of "to each his (or her) own.
I have been comparing the AA MkII to the EMM DAC 6e, w. APL SACD 1000 transport into a Placette Active preamp. I am using Elrod EPS-2S on most components.

What I find is that the body on the EMM gear in SACD is fabulous. You are truly there. Everyone who hears it says "you are done". I am truly amazed at the sound of some SACDs throught the EMM gear. I am waiting on more SACDs to finalize my opinion.

With the Audio Aero compared to the EMM gear on CD playback I find the sound much better w. the Audio Aero. The soundstage has more palpability, & body. You are closer to the music. Everything sounds more natural. I don't find there is a loss in detail as has been said by some other people. Everyone who has heard it & compared the two with a very diverse set of music felt the same. Each time the AA sounded more "real" or enjoyable. I think the tube output stage is a big part of the sound. I am thinking of trying the tube preamp at this point to "tune" the sound. My other idea is to try the CDSD instead of the APL SACD 1000. One last idea is changing power cords.

On a last note, I am running the AA MkII into the Placette & I find the sound much better through the Placette (active) than direct into the amplifiers. I just feel closer to the music in this configuration
I wonder if the MP-1 mkII sounds so much better than the DCC2 into your Atma-Sphere amps simply because there is much better synergy between the two Atma-Sphere products, and/or because there is poor synergy between the DCC2 and your amps?

I'm speculating, but maybe your Atma-Sphere amps present too difficult a load to your DCC2? I know that your MP-1 mkII has been designed to drive amps with low impedances.

Have you listened to both the DCC2 and MP-1 into amps other than your Atma-Spheres?
I use a tube pre amp,DCC2, and the CDSD. Anaconda
alpha powercords and tubed amps(Tenor). I haven't changed
a thing for 6 months(a record for me).
Which tube preamp Saxman2?
I got one of the first DCC2 when they came out, loved it. Then came the CDSD great match. I then got the MA1 Silver Ed
and got more excited. A few weeks later tried the MP3 AtmaS was ok but didn't see the value for the money, to thin. Then tried the MP1 Atma-Sphere with the DCC2 as the Dac, That was the ticket, everything that one would want. It was such an improvment that no AB was needed. It clearly was worth every $$,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My question is the Callisto better than the MP1AS.
I've tried the DCC2 pre section against a number of separate preamps--most of them tubed--including some from Audio Research, BAT, CAT, Atma-Sphere, and a couple of others, and in each case, the tubed units had a little more of that "body" that tubes are famous for, but I always went back to the DCC2 for its superior transparency and clarity. The DCC2 is one of the most neutral and revealing components I've ever heard, and I can see why some people might want to add some tube warmth and color to that sound, but personally I like it the way it is. To each, his/her own, I guess. FWIW, the only preamp that I consider clearly superior to the DCC2 is the upcoming DarTZeel pre (release hopefully in late September), which I heard at CES. That thing is downright staggering and will likely set a benchmark to which most preamps will aspire.
This thread...I think has less to do with DCC2 as a preamp per se but rather tube vs solid state. Would it not be more relevant to compare the DCC2 to SS preamps? How would it do agst Pass Labs, Levinson, Boulder etc? At least if these ss amps do not improve the sound materially vs using the DCC2 as both dac and preamp, we've at least eliminated one angel...and then its about tube vs SS again
So far I'd have to agree with Hooper. I tried CAT and Hovland but heard no benefit. I haven't tried Aesthetix or Atma-Sphere, however.
Other than the DarTZeel and the CTC; I'd be surprised if there was a better SS preamp on the market (now if I could only find a big SS amp that I like...)
Exlibris. Try a Gryphon Encore. 500 watts per side.
I'm running through my DCC 2 to the Gryphon. The only other ss pre amp I own is the Pass x2.5. The DCC 2 is better in my opinion.
Thank you; the Gryphon Encore is high on my list of SS amps to try. I'm also looking at the Accustic Arts Amp III. It puts 1,000 watts per channel into 4 ohms, just like the Encore.
Hooper, in what way did the DarTZeel preamp excel?

To my ears, the DarTZeel was much more fluid, while improving upon even the DCC2s fantastic resolution and clarity. The noise floor was as low as I think I've ever heard. Dynamics were improved as well. It's not going to be cheap at 18k, but I think it's going to better units a lot more expensive. Of course, that's all speculation until the unit actually arrives, but judging from what I and others heard at CES--and we only heard a rough prototype--it's going to be pretty special.
Well, I found a preamp that is -considerably- better than the DCC2 in -every- respect.
The Wyetech Labs Opal.