CD player Vs Pre-amp

Does anybody knows a good CD player(variable output) that you can connect directly to a power amp around $1500? Or, should I just spend my hard earned money on a good pre-amp. I just got myself a good SS amp(Aleph 30), and dont't know what to do next. Listening to low/mid level jazz, vocals and acoustics in a 14X18 room, tend to be a minimalist/purist.

1. Will a direct connect CD player sound better than going thru a pre-amp?

2. If a pre-amp will sound better. Will the sound justify the cost(additional gear, inter-connect)?

3. How much cost of a pre-amp that will better a direct connect cd player?(No bells and whistle)

Help!!! going nuts.

I just bought a Cairn Fog 2 And It has made me happy. It has variable volume and RCA or Balanced inputs. Check out the review,
The price is listed at $1695 but ask for a better price.

Consonance CD Ref 2.2 (US version), Wadia 6 (or cheaper models 23) all has digital volume control.......that says you can ignore any preamp.
Wadia 830 run direct, a no-brainer. It's a little above $1500, but will give phenomenal sound without a preamp. You are going to have spend serious money to get a preamp that is good enough to compete with a Wadia run direct. Call Wadia and ask them this question, I can almost guarantee they will give you the same answer.
I've been using the Shanling CD-T100 without any preamp (I sold it!)for about a year now, and I am extremely happy with the sound I get.
Good luck!
You might want to look at the Benchmarkmedia DAC1 - - it's a very nice unit - the only thing it lacks is a remote control (which mean't I *had* to upgrade to a Levinson 390S :-)]


I use a Cary CD-308 connected directly to my amps. I think it sounds great.

I recently borrowed a highly praised $4000 tube pre-amp from a friend for a comparision. With the pre-amp in the circuit, I got slightly better dynamics, but the cost in dollars and rack space did not justify adding a pre-amp to my system.

As long as I have a single source system, it will be CD/DAC directly connected to my amps.

BTW, I have also had great results using a Theta Miles CDp(balanced version), Birdland O'deon Lite DAC, Camelot Uther Mk IV DAC connected directly to amps.


I've personally not liked the 'CD to amp' approach in those setups I've tried. If you don't need gain I'd suggest the Decware ZSLA-1 linestage(6922 or 6N1P) for $475 new (with 30 day trial). Only down side is that it takes 4-6 weeks to have one built.