Best Preamp = No Preamp?

I'm currently looking for some DACs. I'm looking at Benchmark DAC1, Bel Canto DAC3, Slim Devices Transporter, etc...

I noticed most of these newest high performance DACs have built in volume control with remote.

I'm thinking that I can connect these DACs directly to my Power Amp skipping preamp.

Is that right thinking? Why go through additional peice of device when I can avoid? Anybody doing it that way?

What'll be the pros and cons?

Not really. Either the dac or an integrated amplifier incorporates the preamp gainstage. So one isn't actually ridding a stage but placing it in another location.

However, lack of physical space will limit the quality, especially a tube analog gainstage.

Perhaps those who think no pre-amp is the best preamp should consider attaching their DAC output directly to their speakers. Then they could avoid having that nasty power amp in the signal chain with the changes it makes to their signal. This would be the logical extension of such thinking.

As for me, I use a very nice preamp, with outboard power supply. I like how it preserves the dynamics of the recording. If one has limited shelf space, there are now many fine choices in integrated amplifiers - perhaps this would be a good way to avoid using a preamp. Or maybe many would be happy to use nice headphones with the Benchmark DAC-1.


An old thread, but I wanted to "testify" as I have recently been enjoying my old Monarchy 18B DAC direct to a PSE Studio IV amp with wonderful results. Coming off of "old iron" tube integrated too, which surprised me- huge soundstage, great height/width and air- I didn't think I could live without tubes, let alone without a preamp too, crazy. The tipping point was replacing the cheap volume knob with a ladder stepped attenuator (inexpensive one)- this created a significant SQ improvement- true, there really is no "slam", I can't crank it and rattle the windows (I don't do that much any more) - I couldn't do that with my30 watt tube piece either, so I guess I'm used to that- but I'm pushing Vandy 2CE's this way, so I am doubly surprised- just a wonderful, clear, crystalline presentation-

I will likely grab a preamp at some point both because I'm an itchy audio guy who is always changing things, and because I feel a little "inadequate" without the pre- Ha! But I recommend those with the right set-up give it a try- a quality attenuator is a key factor too, keep an eye on that.
I tried going directly from my Metrum Octave II DAC to my Bryston 4B SST2 and the sound was too edgy for me. I also tried a passive pre but with the same results. Also, I could not get the volume I needed for some songs. The Benchmark DAC 2 pre is very transparent without the edginess of going direct. The Bryston B100 SST as a preamp also sounds much better, but not quit as transparent as the Benchmark
getting a cd-player, or Dac with very good type tubes and running direct to amplification has no hardness, edginess, quite the opposite, organic, way more transparent than most active pre-amps, and with full bass slam and tube magic mid-range if you get a hybred tube/solid state source with specs of below 20hz to 20khz and a little more, mated with good cabling, you will get incredible results with a high quality solid state amp that is high power and high current, this is my system now, Happy listening.