Hi, I was wondering if people could please provide their experiences with running their cdp straight into amps without a preamp in the middle. I had asked a few days ago about running the APL NWO cdp into amps but now I would like to broaden my question to include all cdps.
I am running a Wadia 850 directly to a BAT VK-60. I am very pleased with both. Others are of the opinion that one must have a pre. At one time I had a CJ Pre. I could not tell much difference between the with and the w/o pre, but I preferred the w/o. To quote Robert Hartley, "the sound never comes out better than it goes in".
riley, actually that thread is mainly about cdps with digital inputs. Yes there is some brief mention of volume control but since it was not the main topic of the thread the posts were not very detailed in this regard. Thanks for your post.
Actually, there are several threads on this very topic:
Sometimes threads are difficult to find. However, to summarize. . . some prefer a preamp and others prefer the CDP directly into the amp. It may depend on the quality of the volume control, etc. I am running an EAR Acute CDP directly into an EAR 859.
If you can run it direct then why shouldn't you try it !? At least you will learn how good or bad your pre is, or what you like or not about your pre. It learns you to understand what each component adds to the whole.
I have had a Wadia 830, 850 GNSC, and now a Camelot Uther, all of which were run directly into the amps with great success. I used to own pre amps, like BAT, Sonic Frontiers, B&K, that were nice, but the sound directly seems more refined and accurate in the mids in my system. Give it a SHOT!!!!
Unlike some of the other post-ers, I tried a Wadia 860 with and without a pre-amp, and I liked the "with pre-amp" version better. A dealer friend of mine explained some techno-electrical theory as to why one might be better off with a pre-amp, but I'm too dense about that stuff to know what's real and what's not, or to even articulate it. I can just say that the CD sound was cold and clinical and irritating in the highs (almost glassy) plugged straight into the amp, and was warmer and more "musical" (to my ear) with a tube pre-amp in the middle. Yes, I understand the theory that each thing you put in between the source and the speaker adds more error, but my ears tell me what they want, and I try to give it to them, theory notwithstanding, and they want the pre-amp, so they can have it. Trust your ears.
I have a dCS P8i that I run (balanced) directly into a pair of BAT VK-120s (which I've modified quite a bit). I tried seven line stage preamps that ranged in price from $8k to $17k, but found that the sound was better in every situation, in varying degrees, without a preamp.
The P8i has a digital volume control, which controls volume by shaving off bits. On paper, this is a bad idea. But my own listening showed that the addition of the preamp compromised the sound more than the digital volume control did.
This may be largely due to the extremely low Zout of the P8i (less than 1ohm) AND the very high Zin of the VK-120s (about 220kohms).
In short, give it a try! It may surprise you quite a bit.
I am running my APL 3910 direct to my Pass Labs Amp via balanced interconnects. There have been several versions of this APL unit, the one I have has a deep defined bottom end. Tvad, no way would I call it thin.
I have tried several Preamps , thinking perhaps they would provide extra gain and that would result in improvement. But, they all degraded the sound quality.
My opinion is that each designed unit probably tackles the volumne control in different ways, so it really depends on the unit.
I have been an active preamp guy forever, but I have recently been experimenting with the Promitheus Audio Reference Dual-Box TVC for use in a second system. I have been playing with this little point-to-point hand-wired passive pre in my reference system while I am waiting to fully assemble this second system, and the quality and transparency of this inexpensive component have been a real eye-opener. (This thing plays WAY out of its price league.)
I think a high quality TVC like the reference version of the Promitheus component is a great alternative to a traditional active pre if you have high quality source components and the input sensitivity on your amplifier is compatible. A TVC can give you all the transparency of a direct connection between your CDP and amplifier. It is potentially a better alternative than a direct connection if the volume control on your CDP is not first rate or if the additional current and alternative input/output impedances offered by the TVC prove to be a better way to drive your cables, preserve dynamics and overcome some of the other drawbacks often associated with the elimination of a preamp or the use of a resistor-based passive.
Back in the 70s we were buying those receivers with all of those buttons which allowed us to 'enhance' our music any way we wanted. The ultimate button being the "loudness" switch.
So when I got my Audio Aero Capitole CD player with volume control I at first couldn't resist running it through a pre as I couldn't imagine not getting my music "my way'.
It did not take me long to scrap the pre as the CD player was giving me the music much as the engineer had mixed it. The biggest shock was just how poorly some CDs are engineered. I now pay more attention to the label and I avoid the cheaper compilation CDs. It took the removal of my pre to appreciate this.
My results exploring the no preamp theory have varied dependant upon whether I or the preamp did a better job of getting the signal across. My initially attempts were pretty poor, running preampless produced a thin, anemic effect. Reinserted the preamp was better. After researching ways to get the signal across better, I reconfigure my system following the passive guidelines. This time, eliminating the same preamp (that was needed before) produced amazing results in favor of no preamp. Without the preamp - things were not only cleaner, but much more information was coming through. The increase in transparency and / or decrease in noise, distortions, veiling, congestion, etc, allowed me to hear sounds that I couldnt quite make out or even knew existed before. Those sayings of eliminating veils or peeling away layers of onion sound dumb, but thats what I heard. The amount of details being subtracted, lost, masked, etc by reinserting the preamp was an epiphany.
While having no volume control in the loop is dangerous and unpractical, it tells me exactly what my system is capable of. I dont know of a better way to figure out what a preamp is doing (whether its contributing or subtracting) than to compare its inclusion against nothing. With the exception of somesort of volume control, my system is pretty much able to stand on its own.
Thus far, Ive found · No preamp is better than many, but maynot be the best solution for me. Improving dynamics, increasing soundstage, fleshing out harmonics, etc would be extra gravy. · Passive preamps excel at preserving what Ive obtain - if dialed in properly with shorter interconnects, a cd player with the right output voltage and output impedance to match the amp. · Actives preamps, particuliarly tube stages can impart that extra gravy, but can also commit sins of ommision and / or introduce noise, veiling, grunge, distortions, etc. The ones further up the food chain seem to be able to preserve as well as contribute something more, but I still can detect at least to some degree the anomolies of the extra active circuitry.
>>> Dopogue With my Raysonic CD128, my one experience running it into a passive linestage was pretty disconcerting. Sounded thin and threadbare, very much unlike the way the Raysonic should sound. <<<
Also owning the Raysonic, I got similar results when running straight through to my monos (Triode TRV-300Bs) which have their own volume control. Inserting the matching pre (Triode TRV4-SE LE) pre back brought back the texture/nuance and sounstage depth and width. YMMV.
Garryh, glad for the confirmation. I had brought my Raysonic to an audiophile group meeting to show eveyone just how great this unit is. All I could do was shake my head at how bad it sounded via the passive linestage, and there was no active preamp there to make it sing :-)
Just one point of clarification on the topic of passive preamps. There can be quite a difference between the performance of a resistor-based passive preamp and a transformer volume control (TVC) passive preamp in any given system.
Resistor-based passives require careful impedance matching, and they generally demand a short interconnect between the passive and the amp. It is possible to have source components and amplifiers with output and input impedances that are simply incompatible with a resistor-based passive approach regardless of the input impedance selected for the passive.
TVCs are generally more forgiving - especially if you are running amplifiers with low input sensitivity. The more a TVC is allowed to attenuate the input signal voltage coming in from the source component, the lower the output impedance and the greater the level of current at the TVC output. The low output impedance and the higher current allow the TVC to drive the interconnects and the amplifier more effectively.
So TVCs are at their best when they apply significant attenuation to the source component signal, and they can often drive long interconnects without any problem. Resistor-based passives are at their best when they are applying little or no attenuation, and they always require careful impedance matching and short interconnects in connecting with the amplifier.
Bad experiences with passives usually result from a mismatch or incompatibility problem in one of the areas mentioned above or from insufficient output voltage from the source as compared with the input sensitivity of the amp.
I am with Tvad on this one. I also have an APL 3910 and after reading about how great it sounds direct to amp, I have to say that my cdp definitely sounds better going through my pre - an ARC Ref1. I purchased this cdp from B of NY who also recommended going direct to amp. (He now has a NWO2.5T) In my experience, going direct the music is bit brighter and I would say rawer. Going through the pre, not only do I get better bass control and a fuller bass all around but also more bloom, deeper soundstage and most importantly more musicallity. This is not to say going direct to amp sounded bad but with the pre it definitely sounded better. I was starting to save my pennies for the NWO but I think my next upgrade will be for another preamp - the Supratek Cabernet.
system - APL3910 with AKMs and 6h30, ARC Ref1, ARC Vt130se, Sophia2, tara labs 0.8 cables.