Digital world - why have a preamp?

My system had been down for a long while. Moved, set up a HT, ect. Anyhow realized I missed my "stereo" and brought everything out storage and fired it up. My PS Audio 7.0 preamp in a matter of days became a functioning retard. I didn't have the money for a new unit and didn't feel like getting help for the retard. (second failure with the unit) So for $250 I bought a Canary Island "passive" preamp off Audiogon. CD & tuner are it in my system.
After listening to way too much music since bringing the stereo out into the light of day I can see no reason to purchase a preamp. (Well maybe if there are numerous secondary components in a system or having a remote is paramount to having a happy household.)
Would it be fair to say that in the digital world "a preamplifier is a filter or coloration device used to "tune" a system to the listeners tastes."
no, it wouldn't be fair to call it that. there are reasons for skipping a pre, for certain. and a pre *can* indeed add coloration or be used to tune a system. the problem with that, however, is that adding anything to "tune" is to distort the music to your own tastes.

if you get a really good pre, it can become sonically transparent, which is what people are hoping for when going straight to amp from cd.

as for your initial question, however, in a purely digital system, having no pre makes sense. unless you're running a tv through it as well, or if you have a turntable.

the problem is the limiting factor. in order to run it without a pre, the cd player must have a volume control. there are fine cd player ou there with volume controls, but there;s only one cd player out there to make me replace my jupiter. and, sadly, the linn cd12 has no volume control. nor does my lp12, so it'll always be a pre for me.

if you like a cd player with a vc, though, it's a good idea.
H; I think your assessment is mostly accurate, but only assuming you have excellent DA conversion and volume control as Lazarus points out. That said, following a trial of running a Sony XA7 CD player direct to amp, I very happily went back to my 6 tube pre-amp. The XA7 direct to amp produced music that was thin, detailed to the point of "analytical", and lacked the body and warmth of real music. I did not care for the music using this set-up at all. It did not sound either accurate or natural.

My tubed pre-amp adds body, some warmth, soundstaging, is less detailed-- in a good way, has better PRT, and is in general just more musical. It was my assessment at the time that the XA7 did not have a very good volume control system, but the XA7 is a $3K CD player, and I had expected better performance in direct mode. So my CD direct to amp was not good. I do think that a very good CD player, such as the Levinson 39/390S, would sound very good direct to amp. Just my limited experience going direct to amp. Cheers. Craig
Yeah, impendance matching and or sufficient gain can sometimes be a problem with the "passive preamp" approach, or no preamp at all. Id you do have a CD player with a volume control, it often at the very least sounds a bit lean dynaically, and sometimes can be thin or lack body etc. I ran a passive pre, and no pre, for years. And while the sound was pretty, clear, detailed, etc, it was never strong dyamically, and sounded lean overall. Now if you never listen to anything more than instrumentals, vocals, and light music, this might be fine. But for me, and considering most "passive" speakers are dynamically fairly innept to begine with, I think systems need all the dynamic ability thy can get!,,,and the passive route usually doesn't offer than it a preamp.
So,my experiences in systems with the "passive preamp" approach has been good in some ways, yet a sacrifice in others. Guess you gotta weigh you're priorities and needs. For me, I like a very good quality acive gain preamp if I'm doing music...especially heavy percussion, rock, world, full scale classical, etc!
Good luck
I agree, NO preamp unless it's a nice solid state pre. like a Reflection Audio or Blowtorch, maybe a Ayre K1x. These are neutral. What goes in, is what goes out, but with better impedance matching.
Phile' is correct and succinct. My custom tube-buffered passive out-paces my HQ ss preamp. The argument against passives is unwarranted imo, since each system is unique. Of course you're not listening to the passive per se, you're listening to the output section of your source, in which most designs are not up to the task.

Ric Shulz makes a compelling case at &

If one Must use a preamp, the best sound is derived via a low gain design, i.e. Electrocompaniet, Arcam/Cambridge, Morrison ELAD and Simaudio. Just my 2 cents and [too] many years of experience...