Is there any Streamer/DAC/Preamp good enough to replace a dedicated standalone preamp?


I am getting into digital music server, considering a streamer/DAC/preamp unit like the the Brooklyn Bridge or Teac NT-505.    Has anyone compared its Preamp section against a good dedicated preamp?   I currently have the Conrad Johnson ACT2 and see if I can eliminate a component/cable in the chain without much sacrifice in sound quality.

hpfish10
I think that even combining a Streamer and Dac is a compromise. Also adding preamp functionality would be a further compromise. Also you have a pretty great preamp to find a combined unit that's as good a preamp as your Act2 would be next to impossible.
I disagree, the Lumin X1 is incredible.
Bricasti makes an excellent on. It is brilliant.

I have an Oppo Sonica DAC. I no longer use a preamp.
Lindemann Musicbook source. High end dac-streamer w analog pre-amp featuring a Muses volume control ( also used in pass labs preamps). The Source is a new model and will be out in the next mos. check out reviews of the Musicbook DSD series. Same feature set with and upgraded AKM 4493 dac set. Roon ready. About 3850 retail. 
I am replacing an Aurender A10 and a MicroZotl 2.0S with the Source. Cleaning up the chain. Losing on board storage but will plug in a 1tb ssd  for local files.  Will report when it comes in. 
an EVS modified Sonica sounds great...
Op we sell many high end dacs and streamers and you are going to have a hard time duplicating the Cj sound. 

A Briscati, Mytek or Lumin are all excellent products but will also sound cleaner and less euphonic then the Act so it all comes down to what you are trying to create.

What is the rest of your system and budget?

Dave and Troy
Audlo Doctor NJ
My source is Universal player Ayre c5xMP.  I am looking for a streamer/DAC around $3k with SQ better than  my Ayre.
I use an MSB Analog DAC with a Renderer 2 module and volume control and eliminated my excellent Plinius preamp.  Sounds fantastic, but even used, the MSB is pretty pricey, especially when you add in the new Renderer 2 module.
Elac Alchemy DDP-2 ($2,500). Peter Madnik of Constellation Audio and Audio Alchemy designed it, and I have the DDP-1. Excellent DAC and Preamp with Streaming. The low cost is not how these sound. The streaming part, I have no experience with, but the other parts are of sound that you would get with something 4 times as expensive. The Simaudio Moon is nice, but uses ESS chip. I like AKM chips with programable FPGA and filter choices. Sounds more analog, to me.
PS Audio Direct Stream might be worth a look...
I have the PS Audio DSD.  I though I might get away with eliminating a component and I was wrong.  It's preamp stage will not match the CJ.  It is fine and is better than entry level preamps but won't hold up against a really good one. . 
I also have the PS Audio Directstream (Jr.), and agree, it won’t replace a good preamp.
  1. If you plug a DAC into a preamp, doesn't the sound of the DAC go through the preamp?
  2. If you remove the preamp and run directly from the DAC, isn't the difference in sound removing the coloration of the preamp?
  3. Do high end preamps add magic fairy dust to signals to improve the quality of the sound?
You have an ACT 2 - not many preamps will beat it let alone an all in one solution with a software volume control.
Phomchick, you are under a couple of false assumptions.

1: A straight line with gain is desirable

Answer: Sometimes no it isn't.

If the dac with volume control makes the system sound sterile and going through a good tube preamp adds some warmth that makes the sound much more enjoyable how is the straight wire with gain that makes you not want to listen to the system a bad thing? Sometimes adding the right colorations are a good thing.

2: The dac may not have a real preamp stage, sometimes you get a decent digial attenuator that does bit restriction to change volume, others use a digital volume control which is discrete resitors on a chip, while others use a potentiometer, while others could use switched resistors with realys to open and close the resistors.

So unless the "volume" control is really good that dac/preamp may actually alter the sound going through it via the volume control.

3: Many dac/preamp aren't real preamplifiers but are just the output stage of the dac with a volume control and therefore may have difficulties driving an amplfier or longer cable runs optimally.

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ


@audiotroy

Phomchick, you are under a couple of false assumptions.
Not false, you just don’t agree with them...

1: A straight line [wire] with gain is desirable
Of course it is. If all of our electronics behaved like straight wires with gain, it wouldn’t make any difference what components you selected. Of course, this wouldn’t be the best thing for the high end audio industry. As to your suggestion that a "sterile" component can be warmed up by routing it through a warm sounding tube preamp, that is fixing one kind of distortion by adding another type. If that is your thing, okay, I can go along. But the OP asked "Is there any Streamer/DAC/Preamp good enough to replace a dedicated standalone preamp?" To which the correct answer is almost any DAC will do, as the "extra" preamp is adding one (or more) of three things: noise, distortion, and frequency response / tonality anomalies. Remove the preamp and you remove those distortions.
So unless the "volume" control is really good that dac/preamp may actually alter the sound going through it via the volume control.
This is just FUD. Which DACs exhibit these kinds of volume control problems? Do the OP’s suggested DACs, the Mytec Brooklyn Bridge or Teac NT-505 have these problems? And these arguments could apply just as well to the preamp. And if the DAC didn’t even have a volume cointrol, that would be really bad, wouldn’t it? :-)

3: Many dac/preamp aren’t real preamplifiers but are just the output stage of the dac with a volume control and therefore may have difficulties driving an amplfier or longer cable runs optimally.
More FUD. Please suggest a modern audiophile DAC that cannot adequately drive a high impedance amplifier input.