How good is the PWD DAC II Preamp Section

Any opinions from owners?
Do you have a more specific question?
Are you asking about the volume control?
Are you wondering about going direct to amp or?

When the DAC II is being used the analog output is from the preamp section of the DAC. Since there is no alternative, such as a preamp defeat switch. How would it be possible to evaluate just the preamp section? That said, the DAC II is
an outstanding piece of equipment, preamp section and all.

I found that the PWD MK2 with Atma-sphere MP-3 preamp into Hypex NC400 mono blocks was better than PWD direct to NC400 mono blocks. The PWD in this case was slightly dry in the context of the very neutral NC400s.

Your mileage may vary.
How would it be possible to evaluate just the preamp section?

Wouldn't playing your kit with a preamp in the chain and the PWD volume at 100%, and comparing it with PWD running direct to amp accomplish this? I think the usual complaint is with the PWD digital volume control.

Btw, when I did this comparison, my system with an ancient Adcom pre I dug out of the garage sounded better than the PWD running direct. I concluded that the often heard criticism of the PWD pre section was not without merit.

Yes Ska man, I'm wondering if I can delete the preamp and just go direct with a superlative sonic result . Sounds like 2 responders like the addition of the outboard preamp. Thanks.
As far as my system goes, I also prefer running my DAC II into my preamp rather than straight into my amps.

The question was " How good is the PWD II preamp section?"

I do not believe that there is a preamp section, or any part of the analog output stage that can be bypassed by turning the digital volume control up to 100. Whatever preamp stage is in the DAC is still there and being used for the analog output. A good test would be, setting the volume at 100, then backing it down to 99 and see if you can hear any difference.

The new question is " I'm wondering if I can delete the preamp and just go direct with a superlative sonic result?"

This is a system dependent issue. As you can see, some users
prefer using a preamp. However, there are others that prefer
going the direct to amp route. The only person that can answer your question is you. Try it both ways and see which you prefer.
i had better luck with a pre as well. do not that several of the pre's i tried didn't sound better and two actually sounded worse imho.

Here's a review by A. Cordesman of Absolute sound wherein he prefers direct to amp connection. Best is to try it, as many variables affect the sonic outcome, especially the amps and the speakers used as well as the room.

Good luck...
I believe Paul McGowan at PS Audio said absolutely no stripping occurs in the PWD digital volume control as long as the volume control is set above the 50% level.
My understanding is also that information loss occurs below 50%. I believe Paul McGowan says this should not be an issue at "realistic" listening volumes. With my system and listening habits I was below 50% more often than not. I cannot say for sure whether this or other factors explains my perception that my system sounds better with a pre. It does suggest that the 99% test proposed by Ska_man would not tell us everything we might want to know about performance of the pre section in the PWD.

Note that it may be pretty hard to A/B for the sonic impact of information loss -- say 40% v. 60%, because you cannot easily do a volume matched test (perhaps tweaking recording levels of the same source material might all it). One can, of course, match volume levels for pre v. direct.

I've owned my PWD ll DAC since it was just a poor little PWD and have used it both as a pre and with a pre. To me, while I could listen to the DAC as a preamp if I could not afford one or mine was being repaired, I strongly prefer with a preamp. The sound with a preamp is much fuller, robust, and dynamic sounding. I've used several preamps with it including an ARC Ref 3, a Gryphon Sonata Allegro, Pass Labs XP 20, and my current preamp the CODA CP. In every case it was a hands down win for the preamp. But the PWD ll does sound good by itself.

So if I were getting started in the High End, it would be easy to sell me on the PWD versus other DACs and the sales pitch would be, "With this DAC, look how much money you can save? And it includes a SOTA DAC and preamp all in one package" . This way I could get my custy to buy a better DAC then he would have gotten than purchasing a less expensive DAC and preamp together. And who knows, he might come back and buy a preamp latter?

Makes sense from a marketing standpoint doesn't it?