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 2 responses by tobias

Certainly you can use the DAC with its volume control as a preamp. Absolutely yes, that means you might be able to save some money to spend on the power amp.

This hobby is an upgrading game, and although you might get better sound with a straight-up DAC, a preamp and a power amp, that is the spendy solution. Keep costs reasonable now and you can retain the spendy solution as a goal.

The least spendy solution -- no-one wants to say cheap in the high end -- could be a DAC and an integrated, and integrateds are pretty dang good today. You could be very happy for a long time with an integrated costing $3K and maybe even more.

It depends on what level of high end will satisfy you. IME spending a lot on the power amp early on won't often get you as much fun as spending the same on the front end and using a more economical power amp for a while. But if the DAC/preamp is a good one, if it has a sound you love to listen to, why not?
The Benchmark DAC-1 HDR is a good example of the kind of unit that fills the OP's bill. Its functionality is just about what he would need if he went for the high end power amp at this point.

I would suggest he pay attention to the remote control functionality of the HDR ( it can be hard to see what you've selected ) and its sonics ( the emphasis on detail may be what he wants or it may not ). Given those are OK, it's a suitable choice.