(accuphase dp-75v, 85 and 101, plus some earlier, out-of-production units.) -cfb
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EVS makes dacs with analog variable output which work very well.I'm using one myself and have never looked back.Can be used with a preamp also but I have always found it to sound more true to the source without the preamp and I have tried many excellent preamps with it.It's just more pure and clear.Drives the amp very well to more than enough loudness for most music lovers.
Cornfedboy & Kirk930:
Accuphase's honco had always argued & recommended that CD was not meant to be hooked directly to the poweramp inspite many people do so just because its got a higher level output. Its ultimately a source and hence must be used with the finest preamp one can afford (& mind you, the superior quality of the preamp has a direct relation on the overall sound).
I'm sure the argument will never end between preamp and no preamp. I've used an Accuphase DP-75 with a world class passive preamp, with a CAT SL-1 Mark III (with simplified signal path--Balance and Tape Monitor switches out), and straight into a power amp. I noticed no improvement in dynamics with the CAT, but much lose of transparency and detail. My passive (Shallco switches, Holco resistors, Stealth internal wire, Kimber Ultraconnect RCA's,ladder attenuator type) sounded much better than the CAT, but not as good as the DP-75 straight in. I now switch cables between LP's and CD's, and keep the signal path for each as simple as I can--and I'd advise anyone else to do the same.
Theta Miles also has an analog volume control. One reviewer said he couldn't tell much differ3ence in sound with and without preamp and he had a very costly preamp. I don't recall what kind he had however. I have had the Theta Miles for a couple of months now but have not tried it without the preamp yet. I will try it soon but I don't expect any improvement in the sound. I am however interested to find out if it will hold its own against the preamp.