DAC as preamp w/subwoofer


All. I am considering the W4S DAC 2 to use as a DAC and a preamp. However, I run a subwoofer and need separate outputs for the power amp and sub. Is this feasible with the W4S or with any other DAC for that matter?

Thanks
sruffle
Depends on the sub. Does it have line-level inputs and outputs?
Is this feasible with the W4S or with any other DAC for that matter?
It depends on several factors. Let us know the make and model of both the sub and the power amp, and how long the cable lengths will be between the DAC2 and each of those components.

Regards,
-- Al
Since you need separate outputs I assume you are not running your signal through the sub; even if your sub does not have a high level input, that is one driven from the amp speaker terminals, you can have a network built that lowers high level signal to line level. I use these with my Hsu subs and they work fine.
Thanks for the answers. I am using a Totem Storm subwoofer that has low level line inputs. The cable is 13 feet from preamp to the sub. The power amp (Rotel Rb 991) is right next to the preamp (Acurus RL11).

I am in the process of overhauling my system and thought this would be a good way to upgrade the preamp and my existing CD player (Arcam Alpha 8) at the same time.
I should clarify that the preamp has separate outputs that go directly to the power amp and to the subwoofer.
I see that the DAC2 is specified as having a nominal output impedance of 100 ohms; the RB991 is specified as having an input impedance of 32K, with Stereophile's measurements being 36K unbalanced and 45.2K balanced; and I couldn't find an input impedance spec on the Totem sub.

Given that, I don't think you'll have any problem, unless the Totem's input impedance is extremely low, which I doubt.

I would guess, however, that using y-adapters to split the rca outputs of the DAC2, and connecting via rca cables to both destinations, will give better results than connecting via xlr to the power amp and rca to the sub. I'm basing that on the suspicion that the DAC2's rca output is driven by the same output stage that drives the positive polarity signal of the xlr signal pair. If so, connecting via rca to the sub and xlr to the power amp would, to some degree, unbalance the impedance levels of the balanced signal pair. You might want to ask W4S if my assumption is correct, or if the rca and xlr outputs are driven by separate output stages.

Also, it would be preferable to use cables to the sub that have reasonably low capacitance (e.g., 35 pf/ft or less), as capacitance that is excessively high on the cables to the sub, in relation to the DAC2's output impedance at high frequencies, might result in a slight rolloff of the extreme upper treble on the signals going to the main power amp.

I note that the sub has speaker-level inputs as well as rca inputs, so driving them from the power amp's outputs is another possibility, although for some reason Totem indicates that using the rca inputs is preferable.

Regards,
-- Al
Al, Thanks so much for your comments. It sounds like there are a couple different ways to go at this. It sounds like I will have to do some experimenting to see what works best. In the worst case if I don't get it set up in a way that Works well I can stick with the preamp and upgrade thatat some point down the line.
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Sruffle,

I run my W4S DAC-2 in the way that you wish to. I send the unbalanced outs to my tube integrated amp, and use a Cardas balanced > unbalanced adaptor from each of the DAC-2's balanced outs into left and right subs. It works like a charm. Importantly, the Cardas adapters are wired to float Pin 3. Failing to do so can cause a short in the DAC.

My understanding from W4S is that the balanced and unbalanced outs share an output, so running them simultaneously as I do is the same thing as running a Y adapter. Audioquest makes a decent-quality Y adapter that in theory should provide the same performance as the Cardas adapter setup.
Good posts by Eric and Cymbop, with which I agree 100%. Given that the DAC2's rca output is common with the positive polarity output signal on xlr pin 2, using an xlr-to-rca adapter for one of the two rca runs, and connecting the other run to the rca output, would indeed be electrically equivalent to using a y-adapter on the rca output.

In that situation, I second the caution about making sure the adapter leaves xlr pin 3 unconnected, as the Cardas adapters apparently do. Most xlr-to-rca adapters connect pin 3 to pin 1 (ground), which would short the DAC2's output signal on pin 3 to ground. A lot of equipment can tolerate that, but some cannot. Why pin 3 is commonly shorted to ground on xlr-female to rca adapters, which would be used on xlr outputs, has always been beyond me. (It is desirable, though, and often may be a necessity, on xlr-male to rca adapters, that would be used on xlr inputs).

Regards,
-- Al
Great ideas. I had not thought of trying to use the power amplifier. it sounds like I could pull this off. I am amazed at the willingness of all to help out. Thanks again.