Opinions Needed: Active or passive pre

My system consists of Sony sacd777,Bel Canto Dac1, Placette remote volume control, Sim Audio Moon W-3 amp, Magnaplaner 1.6, Rel Strata 2 Sub.I am considering replacing the Placette with a CJ Premiere 14 to get some of that tube midrange magic. Good idea? Bad idea? Any and all opinions would be appreciated.
I think you should try the best active preamp you can afford and see if its poorer detail and transparency are worse than its "midrange magic" is pleasing. I'm selling a CAT SL 1 III and keeping a homemade passive which sounds better to me, on balance. Despite having its signal path drastically simplified at the factory, the CAT just doesn't achieve the velvety background silence and astonishing transparency of a good passive. I get the "tube magic" from my power amps. It's chacon a son gout here, so see if you can try both on the highest affordable level. But I wouldn't buy a commercial passive preamp, as it's so easy to make one that beats virtually all of them at a much, much lower price.
I don't think a passive will work with your bel canto. The voltage output is way to low. I might be wrong but I think I checked into it before and it's like 2 volts. I found that anything less than 4 or 5 volts is not enough to power an amp through a passive preamp and get the magic of a passive. So in your case an active one should be much better.
A passive preamp does have it's negative aspects too. There is more detail, but you loose a certain 'fullness' to the sound when you completely depend on your source. Some sources are not up to the task of driving a passive preamp. For example my CD player sounds pretty good driving my preamp in passive mode, but my tuner and VCR sound terrible. My adcom 750 preamp has both active and passive modes. Given an either/or, I would choose a very good active preamp over a passive and live with the slight loss of detail.
I too have the Adcom 750 and agree on the "fullness" found in the 'active' mode. Personally I wonder if this is a product of the LENGTH of the connecting cables along with the type of cable used. Also... the passive mode is great at high volume control levels... the thin sound disappears and suddenly my system has tremendous detail and explosive dynamics. BUT: at lower (ie: sane levels in my apartment) the passive mode becomes thin, and dynamics suffer. I would hazard to guess this has something to do with the "current generating ability" of the source!
Yes of course: front ends aren't typically designed to drive 2 pair of interconnects & the 'device' in between (typically just the attenuator in a passive). Elizabeth certainy you've read the threads regarding driving a SS amp with a tube pre. I tried this a couple of times; once with a VTL & then with a Golden Tube. The GT was miraculous, but I didn't buy it since they're out of business & there would be no product support. Per John, you need the gain of a preamp to get fullness & slam-factors lacking in a passive.
try a melos preamp - either the sha-gold/maestro, or the ma-333/music director - *very* transparent & detailed, *unbelievable* drive & dynamics. doug
I experience the EXACT same thing related to volume control. Also the interconnects are a factor. When I use my red dawn interconnects, the passive preamp has a little more juice than when I use my much lower end esoterica audio interconnect. Also, I recently bought an audio research ph-3 phono preamp. This has a tubed output stage. When I use it to drive my AR tube amplifier, I much prefer the passive mode. There is an unworldly clarity that comes in. I believe this is due to the all-tube amplification stage. I wonder what my cd would sound like with a tube cd player ?
I have a Sony 777. What kind of improvement do you get with the Bel Canto DAC?
joekras, the bel canto seems to be alittle smoother and has less glare in the treble, It also has more "atmosphere" I think the upsampling helps
I spent years dabbling with both passive and active pre amps. Based on my experience, no matter what you buy, or what you spend, it all boils down to the following: passive pre amp lose some of the "kick" in the music, that an active design preserves. On the flip side, most active pre amps suck when it comes to preserving those minor nuances and harmonic details that you learn to love, after you've experienced them. Unless you can afford an ultra expensive active, you will have decide which of the above aforementioned charactaristics you treasure the most.
I would like to try passive preamp, but need the extra output for my subwoofer. I am using a Audible Illusion L1 and Janis sub. My Spica speakers run full range. Any suggestions?
Get a Rel sub, you can run it off the outputs of your amp {it actually sounds better this way} See the Rel web site for more details
The adcom 750 has two sets of outputs. Also has a passthru to run your home theater or tv variable outs into it.