Gads,I didn't know there was going to be a test.I'm in the wrong thread.See you on the flip side.
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Thanks for the responses. I thought I'd make the question a little sarcastic and inflammatory seeing as I'm a virgin in the forum. I need an identity. I run a Wadia directly and have found the sound driving my amplifiers directly to be unmatched. There has not been a single preamp I have tried (I have recently been wanting to add a tuner)that has not been a compromise in this regard, and I've had some good ones. My point was it seems there is a reluctance to acknowledge this route as superior in all digital systems and I'm surprised it hasn't received the attention it deserves. You are right, there are several other CD players available that can drive direct but if they are not doing it in the digital domain then they are trying to be both a cd player and a preamp and in my experience they are huge dissapointments (the sony for example)Who wants to place the most critical component of a great preamp, its volume control, and strap it to the back of a noisy chasis? With the exception possibly of the krell which has enough hardware it may as well be both. Thanks for the response, I don't belive there is a preamp which was my point.
Well the best preamplifier made by many accounts is the Conrad-Johnson ART, at $20,000. That is probably the most likely to not harm the signal at all. The other option is that perhaps you could use a switching device to switch between the Wadia straight into the amp and the tuner through its own preamp into the amp. A switching device is a lot simpler than a preamp so it should be easier to make it sonically unobtrusive. I do not know if one is made but a company like McCromack might just custome make on for you. The other thing that occurs to me is that there is a home theatre processor loop on the Adcom GTP-750 preamp (which is incredibly good) that you can kick in that takes the signal in and pipes it straight to the output bypassing the volume control. It is intended for home theatre processors but there is no reason you can't do it with a CD player. In fact, now that I have thought of that, I might hook mine up like that ...
Pet, no one will argue that CDP direct to amp is best possible for pure sound quality. However this "spartan" set-up limits flexibility for recording devices,tuner, or any future format that is not playable on CDP...... this is real consideration if you plan to keep amp/preamp for the next 10yrs.....regards Sam
Petland, it's obvious that you like the Wadia sound, and I won't try to tell you that you shouldn't. I prefer my top octave to not be rolled off by 3 dB. The volume control in my player is as good as the best volume controls in the best preamps. It allows me to listen at any volume level, without losing bit resolution. There's no need to be smug, you've not heard what I have, afterall.......And if you want to listen to a tuner, the tuner should be off while you listen to other sources anyway. Switching interconnects isn't a big deal, is it?........Regarding vinyl, you just don't know what you're missing. If you did, you wouldn't. I just love having both CD and vinyl, that's the only way to navigate audiodom nowadays, IMHO.
Pet,I sold ALL my C.D.s to raise money to get into vinyl.That was 3 years ago.I have replaced EVERY C.D. with a vinyl copy that I wanted to replace.I replaced them for a dime,quarter,buck each.I have paid much more for a vinyl copy of something I really loved but that was by choice.If your into classic rock,vinyl copies are everywhere!!! I have been buying still sealed classic rock vinyl on e-Bay for half the cost it would be on C.D.Into Modern Rock!!! They have alot on vinyl.All of Metallica,Tool,Korn,Live,NIN,Creed,Green Day,I could write all day about vinyl.The only down side of vinyl is its expensive to get going and much more work than digital.But I am into analog and tubes and dont regret it a second!!!
If you want to stay away from a preamp but still do analog you could get a EAR 834P. That is a phono preamp that plugs directly into you amp. You just have to make sure you get the one with the volume control on it. It is a tubed unit and just sounds amazing. It has a great review in Stereophile although they hardly do it justice, but lets not go there. It's a great way to get both worlds and new it only goes for $1200 you can find them sometimes on the used market for around $650. If you don't mind switching cables this might be the answer for you. For a turntable I have a Basis 1400 with a Rega RB 300 tonearm and I love it. Best of luck in your quest!-Gary
I agree with the comments about your getting into analog. The advise about the Conrad Johnson ART and the Counterpoint SA9 are both correct. Another option for best choice in a preamp is the Callisto from Aesthetix. This is the preamp from the Jim White, who designs and builds the IO phono. I know you will not believe this, but I would not be surprised if your system was improved by putting the Callisto between the Wadia and your amps. I know this flies in the face of what you believe, but there are other things in a system that matter, such as gain, loading, impedance, and capacitance of your chosen interconnect cable, and the input sensitivity and drive requirements of your amps. I have seen many circumstances where the addition of a ultra high quality preamp not only did not hurt, it helped! By the way, like David99 says, go with tubes, (like the Aesthetix is).
As you can see from the responses- there are no simple answers to your question. I fight with passive/active myself. The bottom line is it depends on the rest of your system- and one little thing like a power cord/interconnect (Tek Line Concorde Super Sonic) , or better PLC (PS Audio/Equi=Tech/Quantum), or proper isolation products (Symposium) or room treatments (Argent RoomLenses) by themselves can take your system over the top. If you are unfamiliar with these products you can read reviews at www.audiotweakers.com
The purpose of a preamp is not to "improve" the sound of the source component. The best a preamp can do is not to degrade the music signal passing through it. Anyway that's how it works with an analog preamp. A fully digital preamp is a whole other story. A digital preamp can definitely be used to "improve" the source's sound. EQ, expansion, time/phase alignment, etc. can all be used to make what goes out sound better than what came in. Assuming well designed software and sufficient DSP power (32 bit or greater), than there is the possibility of no sonic degradation from the insertion of an extra device into the music chain.
I'm in the same boat you are. There are 2 active preamps that I will be auditioning that will, as I have been told, be much better than my Wadia 860 direct into an FPB600c. The 2 preamps are absolute hot rods from very small companies. Solid state: 1)reflectionaudio.com Battery powered and best with either cd or phono playback. Tubed 2)homeontheweb.net/presence/ The presence ultimate can even be made switchless and with dual mono powersupplies and main chasis. I will be auditioning both of them shortly, just after I get my 860 upgraded to an 861 status. Check them out. For a preamp it seems as though they are designed very near the limits...
Theoretically a good preamp can improve the sound over your straight wire scenario in only one situation I can think of. If the Wadia's output impedence is much higher then the input impedence of the amp you might suck the current out of the Wadia's output stages. A low impedence output preamp would then act as a high current buffer for your Wadia thus improving the sound. Probably not likely with most top quality amps these days.
Hi Petland, you already had your fun from the responses above. Now, this is serious - from what you describe, i think you want a passive volume control instead of a preamp. Why not check out PASSION products specs on(www.tassie.net.au/~cdaly/passion8.htm) I've heard them on demo, I think they are very good; but your poweramp must have a gain more than 30dB. Regards.