The Importance of Preamps Jan 24, 2019
Over the past few years I have become inured to the fashionable belief that Analog Preamps do not add anything to an audio system in a digital world-indeed that in fact they get in the way of the music.Getting used to an idea doesn't make it right and it is high time to call BS on this notion.
The source of this unfounded belief appears to be manufacturers of D/A converters who cleverly figured out that one could use a few bits of digital computing to raise and lower volume thereby arguably rendering the line stage superfluos. What a boon to the audiophile,they argued,not only have we removed a potential source of signal degradation and created a more dirct line of communicationbetween the source and the amplifier , we have alsoo saved the end user buckets full of cash which he/she would have spent on a top flight preamp.
This would be a compelling argument if any of it were true.But alas it is not.Yes one can raise and lower volume on a dac by wasting a significant number of bits to do so .BUT NO IT DOES NOT SOUND BETTER TO CONNECT A DAC DIRECTLY TO AN AMPLIFIER BYPASSING THE PREAMP !
In fact in every listening test I have conducted removing the preamp from the picture rendered the musical picture less dynamic, less fleshed out and altogeather less realistic than when a high quality preamp was introduced into the picture.
One of the leading reviewers in our field whose name we will not mention for obvious reasons dubbed the anti preamp crusade "The Wimpy Wars" in recognition of the deleterious effect which omitting a preamp from the chain created.
By the way high Quality does not Necessarily mean high priced . Consider the Backert Rhumba 1.3 tube line stage .$ 3500.00 buys you a lot of sound and improves the performance of any system regardless of how high end the DAC employed may be.