Can DAC with volume control act as Pre-amp?


I was looking at AudioEngine new Digital Analogue Converter, D1 and realized that theoretically it can be used as pre-amplifier.

I usually use a laptop as music source. I intend to buy a DAC then connect this DAC to a integrated amp to drive 2 bookself speakers. However, if a DAC with volume control can act as a pre amp, then it would allow me to buy a really good power amplifier instead of a so-so integrated amp to drive my speakers.

In theory, this will help to improve sound also as the less devices that audio information go through, the less distorted it is. If I connect a DAC with volume to a Integrated amp, then we have an extra volume control for nothing right?

I am not sure if this actually work. Anyone has experience with this? Everyone is welcomed to share some thoughts :)

Showing 1 response by arni

Do not underestimate the advantages of a good quality integrated amp; no impedance issues, one less interconnect etc. usually translating to less hassle, more bang for your buck-but yes, less flexibility.
When looking at budget DACs with volume control, it is important to know how it is implemented, e.g., gain or no gain, digital vs. analog attenuation, and the quality of the analog potentiometer.
I have no experience with the Audioengine DAC, but I did have the Nuforce uDac I in my budget office system for a while. Although it uses an analog volume control, there was a huge improvement when I bypassed it (turned to max) and inserted an Axiom passive preamp for volume control.
If you are going to use a laptop as a music source, I strongly recommend DACs that focus exclusively on USB input and use asynchronous chips/DAC implementation or the CEntrance method (which Benchmark uses).
I replaced the uDac with HRT music streamer II, and I'm amazed how good that little DAC sounds. No volume control though.