Passive preamp issues or?


I have a Nuforce STA 200 that I’ve been using with an Axiom Walker mod preamp for a while now.  Other equipment is a Bluesound Node 2 streamer and a Jolida dsd dac.  Nordost digital coax and Dueland Schroeder IC’s from dac to pre and pre to amp.   Last night, I disconnected the preamp and ran the IC’s directly from the dac to amp, using the volume control on the dac.  The change in detail and depth was not subtle.  Soundstage extended beyond the speakers- everything just sounded better.  However, with the high gain of the Nuforce there’s  a hum in the speakers- it’s not not audible when I’m not playing anything. I’m willing to live with it, but I’m curious why the sound improved significantly by pulling the pre- should I look at better IC’s from pre to amp or is the Axiom subtracting from the sound quality?
renisnceman
Very familiar with the Nuforce and the Axiom Walker unit. As good as the passive unit is ( and I find it to be excellent ), the less in the signal path ( 1 less volume control, 1 less set of ics, etc. ), generally the better. The STA 200 is very easy to drive, and this is what you are hearing. As far as the hum is concerned, the Axiom unit shunts the amp's inputs to ground, therefore ime, less / no hum. 
renisnceman
The change in detail and depth was not subtle. Soundstage extended beyond the speakers- everything just sounded better. However, with the high gain of the Nuforce there’s a hum in the speakers


The Nuforce STA200 has an input sensitivity of needing just 0.6v input for full power output of 80watt. Your Jolida DSD Dac can have up to 2.3v output at full volume, so as you can see there is absolutely no need for any active preamps with even more gain, as you already have 4 x more from the Jolida than what the amp can take

But!!! I can’t find anywhere what the output impedance is of the Jolida DSD Dac, being tube it "could" be quite high or low depending on what configuration the tube is in.
Jolida state this "0 V to 2.3V (±1dB, 47K ohms)" But I can’t!! believe anyone would have the output impedance of their equipment at 47kohms!!. But if this is correct it "could" be the source of your hum problem.
Because the unwritten output impedance to input impedance "ratio law" is a min of 1:10 or higher. "IF" the 47kohm output impedance of the Jolida is correct?, you have basically have a ratio of 1:1 into the Nuforce "that’s not good" won’t hurt anything, but "could" be the source of your hum. Or there may even be an earthing problem between the two. 
Try to find output what Jolida say it’s output impedance definitely is.

Cheers George
The hum is non-existent with the volume down-  I’ve got nos Telefunkens in the dac—wondering if switching to lower gain 5751’s would make a difference?