Do I really need a preamp with dac with volume control help

I was putting together a system in a second room and placed order fo Audio Hungary integrated but found out they had no repair center in U.S. and canceled order.

So I ended up buying a Don Sachs with the intention of buying the matching preamp. Im running the RME adi-2 v2 with Teddy Pardo power supply directly into amp. I’m not using phono or CD in this room.

It really sounds very good. Big full detailed with no lack of gain. Not at all like I’m missing anything at least I think so. Then at times I second guess this, I just don’t know.

Long ago I had a PS Audio RAM modded amp with PS audio preamp with outboard power supply out of curiosity I pulled the preamp out of the system ran balanced to phono pre, it had a volume control and everything opened up and sounded much better. Preamp and PSU went in the closet. 

I don’t want to make same mistake I did in the past and spend a bunch of money on a preamp that may not improve things. It could also make things sound worse like my experience with the PS Audio. 

Can someone advise me why I am experiencing this. Should I buy a preamp, am I missing out without having one, I know I can buy preamp and see and if it doesn’t work and then I can sell it but what a pain and expense, thanks for any insight.


I'm afraid only you can answer that one in the end. Do remember you have an extra box and cables to listen to. I have a PC which doubles as my streamer and music storage system. This machine feeds straight into a PS Audio Direct Stream senior and I couldn't be happier, it is so clean and super detailed . I certainly don't miss a Pre Amp.

PreAmp do take a very good job,in fact, it is called magnifier,but we just do not use that word often,and we use preamp, and very easy to let people think the sound is just need amplifier. In fact,the sound signal need magnify and amplifier before going to speakers,

But why some one get good sound directly from DAC to amplifier? It is usually happen due to the DAC has the preamp function inside,and the company did not say it very clearly.

My DAC has the ESS Sabre volume control implementation and balanced out as well as my solid state amp. But my Tube pre does not support balanced. Some times I switch from the pre to the DAC direct via xlr.  I think it may sound a bit more analytical but I always find myself migrating back to the pre   I think I prefer the tube pre SS amp combo.  The pre is also where the phono stage be.

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Save your money.  You do not need a Pre for your second room.  I just recently tried my Lampi Pacific DAC as a pre and cou0ld not believe how good the sound was without a Pre.  You can always add a Pre down the road if you are not happy.  

It can be very expensive to get a preamp that sounds as good as no preamp at all.  

A Benchmark LA4/PA4 is one to try out for "wire with gain" ($2500 - $3K). I also have a CODA 07x preamp (which I use more, better feature match) but my LA4 is the King. The CODA 07x is NOT wire with gain.

A Topping pre90 is another candidate for wire with gain. ($600). Read the review next month in Stereophile. I just sold mine.

"Do u need a preamp?"

Topping Pre90 + Ext90 Review - Pre-amp my Power-amp! (



This is also something that I have wondered about.  I use an MSB Discrete DAC direct to my Pass Labs 250.8 and it sounds great.  Some have told me that putting a preamp in will improve the sound.  Others, like Vince Garbo at MSB, say no.  To me, it seems as if most designs try to minimize the amount of “stuff” in the signal path, i.e., the less in the signal path, the better the sound.  So it is counterintuitive to me that putting all of the wiring and electronics of a preamp into the signal path between the DAC and the amp would actually improve the sound.  How does that work, logically?

@paulcreed, There is no right or wrong answer to your direct to power amp, or preamp question. The answer is it depends on the equipment used and how it sounds to you. AND, if you ask everyone on Audiogon, you will get many different answers.

The only way to get the correct answer for you, and YOUR equipment, is to test and listen.










It depends on the number of bits available from the DAC, the output voltage of the DAC, the input sensitivity of the amp, the capacitance of the interconnects between them, and the impedance compatibility of it all.

Technically you might not NEED a preamp but I have never seen a top performing system that didn't have a quality preamp. 

Given your enjoying the system and it is working well for you, I would not bother. For high end critical systems not having a preamp seldom is a satisfying and fully fleshed out sound. But since it is a secondary system, I would leave it there. 

Leaves more money for your main system long termed.

Ultra high end systems are not likely to exclude all popular media, and will therefore will probably have analog sources, which changes the equation.

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