Many threads on this subject. After trying passive, and direct in my decidedly lower-end-of-the-high end systems, I have always preferred an active preamplifier. For me, it added dynamic nuance and soundstage depth.
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The reason I'm currently running the Cal CL-15 direct is because when I first tried the Cal through my Audio Research LS3 (approx 10 yrs. ago)I remember it sounding fuller through the preamp but more detailed cd direct (at the time my speakers were Dynaudio Contour 3.3). I was thinking of getting Bryston's BP-26 (or BP6) and run my cal cl-15 into that...or going with McIntosh MCD 500 CD direct(MCD 1100 a bit rich for my blood). Any thoughts on this. (Keep in mind ...with the Bryston option ..I will have another audio boost when I ..down the road ..replace my Cal CD. which option do you feel will give the most detail?
(I appreciate your thoughts).
I would think the only reason to interject a preamp between your source and the Brystons is to better match impedance mismatches. If the source can readily drive the input impedance of the Brystons to full power, then I am not sure I see the advantages. The input impedance of the power amp will be about the same as the input impedance of any pre-amp, so from the source point of view, its the same load. Perhaps with a pre-amp, the source will need to produce a lower voltage range (because of the added gain of the pre-amp), and this could give some sonic advantages.
For example, the power amp might require a voltage of 1-2 V for full power, whereas the same 1-2V could be derrived from the pre-amp with the source providing only a few hundred millivolts. If the source uses IC OPamps, then the lower the outpout voltage the better. If the source has a class A discrete output stage, this would be less of a factor.
I used to use a CA 840C to drive my power amps directly, but I used a passive attenuator for gain control. So this placed a resistor attenuator between the power amp and source, which is a compromise (impedance/load) at best. I discovered the attenuator (5K) was way to low for the OPamp output of the CA 840 to dive properly. Sound was clean and detailed, but significantly devoid of bass response.
Thanks for all your input...I'm new to this and really appreciate you sharing your experience. I think I'm going with the MCD 1100 (over the Bryston BP-26 running my Cal Audio CL-15 for now) unless there's someone who has actually tried the Bryston Pre-amp vs. MCD 1100 (or even the MCD 500) and thinks there's a reason to go pre-amp. Again..thanks to all.
all components are imperfect. some may may function as tone controls, especially tube preamps, whose circuits are tube sensitive.
so, an appropriate tube preamp may solve your problem. on the other hand, other cd players may provide certain attributes which you may feel feel are absent.
in what respect are you dissatisfied with the sound of your stereo system ?
Hi Mrtennis: I was EXTREMELY happy with my Dynaudio contour 3.3's fed by Bryston 7BST mono's and Cal Audio CL-15 CD direct into the mono bloc's. Until......a guy I work with got bit by the Hi End audio bug which in turn got me going again. I replaced my contour 3.3's with Dynaudio Sapphires which did many thing better than the 3.3's except for rock. Now I guess I'm looking to upgrade to keep all the better things of Sapphires without losing what I had in Rock n roll (which I do like to Rock at times) with the contours. I'm afraid I've started an expensive "Domino Effect". I'm thinking of buying the McIntosh MCD 1100 (direct into 7BST's) without hearing it because I've heard only great things about it (I know there's a risk but it's got to be several levels better than my Cal CL-15 (whatever "better" means). I guess the goal is to have a system that sound's as "Real" as possible. ...tnx for your input.