Do you need a pre-amp with a digital front-end?

Hi guys:

I do not know if this should go here or in PC audio.

My question is this -- all my music is ripped on iTunes. Suppose I just take analog audio out of my iMac and feed it directly into power amplifier.

So, use the DAC in the computer and skip the pre-amp altogether. Is this crazy? Or suppose I use external DAC but still feed analog signal directly into power amp with no pre-amp.

The reason I ask is that integrated amps include a lot of stuff I don't intend to use, computer can supply pot etc., so why not spend the money on just a power amp?

Would love to hear feedback on this idea.

(Am powering Zu Druid plus B&W sealed sub in massive room with lots of room problems. Use Rotel class-d right now and don't love it)
You can do this, but I have a warning and suggestion....

Warning: Having a "hard" volume control is handy to make sure you don't overload the amp. Also keep on mind that while iTunes has a volume control, the rest of the OS and apps have separate (or no) volume adjustment. This can be dangerous.

Suggestion: An external DAC improves the sound. Some DACs have volume controls. Remember that the DAC's quality has more to do with the "analog" stage of the design. I see people worry and argue about the "digital" processing a lot, and totally forget that most of the DACs character comes from the analog section.
Yes you can if you like the way it sounds. When listening to digital I pre-set the volume controls on my pre-amp and use iTunes for fast and easy adjustments. My Mac is next to my listening chair. I've also pre-set the iTunes equalizer to compensate for room issues.
I purchased the Olive 4HD music server and it struck me one night with why am I going through the Pre-Amp while I can hook up my music server directly to the amp. The music server I am using to listen to music is the only component I am using in my set-up. I sold my Pre-Amp and sold my speakers and combined both sales and bought a new set of speakers. I have not looked back and I am very happy with my new pair of speakers with the sale of the two items.
Why not go with powered speakers and skip the speaker wire?
Usually the answers to the preamp vs. no preamp question for digital is divided between strongly yes and strongly no. People with very good systems many times argue an excellent preamp does improve the sound. So don't expect to get a definitive answer from this forum.

However it sounds like you are starting a system, so maybe it's wise to avoid the preamp altogether (despite which way is better) for now and get a DAC with volume control (eg; Benchmark, Bel Canto) and connect directly to your amp.

This is what I would do if I were in your shoes, even though I do have a preamp.
Thanks you all.

It sounds like it is perfectly possible to plug power amp directly into analog output from iMac.

In future, I can of course add external DAC and preamp, but is not requirement.

May make most sense for me right now to spend all $$ on amp.

I am still surprised that integrateds are so much cheaper than stand alone poweramps. Maybe it is because those who buy separate components have more $ to spend so get price jacked up on them.

Now i wonder if integrated may be better deal even though I will not use 90% of it
An inexpensive way to bypass the internal DAC of the computer and give yourself a dedicated external volume control is with the NuForce uDAC. It's $99, has a USB digital input, a volume control, analog output, coax digital output and a decent headphone amp. It's very impressive for the money.
I wouldn't skip the preamp part.Controlling the volume from the computer alone can vary to much,and have a high enough output to blow your speakers.Keep a volume somewhere else (preamp,or integrated)besides the internal volume in the computer only,if your using its DAC.