Minimalist PMC AML:1 based setup - opinions needed

I am thinking of setting up a very minimalist setup similar to others mentioned here. It will consist of the following:

Speakers: PMC AML1 Active Speakers
Source: Either one of the following sources:
a. Slimdevices Transporter
b. Linn Majik DS
c. Squeezebox + Benchmark DAC-1

I have 2 questions:

1. Which do you think would be the best source(in terms of pure sound

2. Do I need a preamp for any of these sources?

I'd also be interested to hear of peoples' experiences with the AML1s as this will be my first foray into pro-audio speakers.

Many thanks in advance for your help.

For the money, if it is pure "technical" quality you are after then Benchmark DAC1 is hard to beat and has gained wide respect as an excellent DAC (jitter immune), a great preamp (but NO remote - so caveman design for modern times) and it comes with a world class headphone amp to boot. So no need for a preamp if you can handle the inconvenience of manual volume control or can accept the poorer performance of "digital volume control".

What sounds subjectively better will be a matter of personal taste - so I can't really help there. Benchamark has a tightly focussed soundstage that is generally narrower than anything else (great image between the speakers but less soundstage width/size overall unless it happens to be on the recording - if you like all your music to sound "big" then DAC1 is not for you)
Don't go for that Squeezebox solution because it isn't 24bit/96khz compatible. The transporter is superior to the Linn Majik for less money. If you want the best of all worlds, maybe go for an Olive Melody + Belcanto DAC3/ Benchmark DAC1.
I own the DAC3 and it drives my active speakers well. Many people on the forum seems to prefer the DAC3 to the DAC1 if driven direct without preamp, some attribute it to the larger power supply.

Happy hunting!
Can the Transporter be connected directly to a power amp or active speakers?
Can the Transporter be connected directly to a power amp or active speakers?

yes it can.
Well i have had 2 transporters one heavily modded and one stock,i also had benchmark dac 1 and a stello dac here.
I then got the oppotunity borrowimg home the Linn sneaky DS ( under majik ds) and to my utter suprise it completly wipped the floor with the stock transporter, compared to the modded one it was closer but the linn had one major strong point and that was it puts weight to the music, not just more basss but getting weight og the music right, it was also more transperant and simply worlds more musical and tunefull

I now have the majik ds and its simply no comparison to the transporter .

I curious to if the gentelmens above have actually compared the two.
Just wanted to chime in on my experience with the SB vs Transporter.

I have a fairly decent system, B&W 703's connected to a McIntosh MA6900. My music collection is encoded in the lossless FLAC format.

I bought a Transporter at a good price to replace my SB3. To my ears after countless A/B comparison I could not hear a difference between the two. I had to keep the Transporter because the sale was final but if the situation was different I would have kept the SB and looked at something else.

Yes the Transporter is more feature packed but to my ears I could hear no sound/music improvement.
Just wanted to chime in on my experience with the SB vs Transporter

Technology for digital source is getting extremely good and differences are becoming vanishingly small. Design engineers can only spend so much on power supplies and higher quality components. Often more expensive products just have better features and are built beautifully and expensively packaged - of course they eek out a small degree of less jitter and better channel separation etc. - but differences are often small. What you report is not all that surprising although most people are naturally predisposed to rate the beautifully packaged item as sounding much better.

FWIW - I think the Transporter looks way cool! The build quality and features are awesome. It is worth if for that great look alone as well as the comfort that it is made from very high quality components. May be with headphones you can hear a slight difference?
I would go for the benchmark dac usb with inbuilt pre amp.
I use dac 1 usb myself. I would not suggest you buy anything more expenisive with these speakers as it works great with them. I has max output at 0.7 volts in. That the dac 1 supply. I would buy the pre amp version though.
There is no such thing as a jitter imune dac its complete sales BS, also there are several diffrent kinds of jitter .

Further more when the dac and data sourch issent slaved to the same Closck , all kinds of audio degrading things happens.

For pure soundkvality by all means get the Linn , the difference is not subbel compared to the slimdevices products .

But the linn userplatform is at its current stae crap compared to the slimdevices platform so if thats of big concern its proberly not the way to go (yet)

I agree that musicaly the trasnporter issent better then the sb3 infact i find the sb3 a littel more relaxed.
There is no such thing as a jitter imune dac its complete sales BS, also there are several diffrent kinds of jitter

While I agree that nothing will be completely jitter free, however, in the case of the DAC1, the sales BS is backed up by measurements using audio precision equipment - while not perfect (what is?) the measurements demonstrate what most would call excellent "immunity to jitter".

When comparing good DAC's as you have could it be possible you are hearing small differences between them in the analog output circuitry (op amps) and low pass filter design rather than differences due to jitter?
Hi shadorn

Jitter has very littel to do with what sounds good and what dossent.
There are also different kinds of ways jitter can influence the sound.
Honestly i wouldent worry to much about it.

Jitter is most heard when its absent, its like noise.

But thats not what makes the music its the implamentaion of the Dac.
And above all the skill and time that have whent into the design.

I dont think that the difference between a Linn majik ds and the transporter is small.
Bass, treble soundstage ? well yes the differenc eis small.
But musicality, seperating instruments and individual threats in the music,deep bass and none digital treble, the linn is simply a intirely different animal.

I personaly try not to get to technical about it instead i use my ears.

The transporter is a very good example why you shouldet rely to much on measurments.
Sadly many fall for the Bit-perfect sound kvality that will suppas even the most exotik disk spinner nonsence slimdevices promot the Transporter as.

And by all accounts there sales technique works.

Why the Linn ds sounds so much better i have no idea.
I know that the have a whole army of the best engeneers plus some 35+ years of experince .
Linn also seems to be on of the few companys that have a clear goal on what the gear should sound like and the use there Tune dem method designing everything.

Honestly im not to much into listning ti my music using enykind of method, but i want my music replayed with as much emotional and musicality as possibl and it just happens to be my findings that a linn source really do bring me that.

I agree with you about jitter. I also agree with you about Linn "house" sound. You obviously like this sound a lot. Linn are extremely successful.

The transporter is a very good example why you shouldet rely to much on measurments.

For you and many others yes. However, some do like a purely accurate sound - as clinical as it may be (depending on the recording)
I do agree that some may prefere a more clinical sound then what you get from linn source.
But a smoooth and integrated treble respons is only the tip of the iceberg.

Accurate haever is not what i would call the transporter.

The TP of SB3 dossent seperat instrumenst very well, it ruins pitch and timing in the music to a much larger extend.
Music is much harder to understand.
That means its not as akurate .

Measurments can only tell a tiny bit about have the unit will sound , wich is ofcause is what matters because that is the units only purpose.
I own a pair of AML-1s w/MJA Ref 200 subs and I absolutely love them. Do yourself a favor and run them with 6SonsAudio's Windigo line of powercords and ics...fantastic combination!
Just upgraded my power cables & interconnects to 6SONSAUDIO Golden Eagle line, this is 2-3 times better than the Windigo line, that in itself is amazing. In my opinion these are ridiculously good products period, an incredible value - they come with a 30 day trial period...but there was no way these babies were going back. Try them...if you don't like them simply return them, Gary is an honest, fantastic guy to deal with as well.