Pre or Dac...which route and which brand...

Hello everyone,

Just got back to the hobby and brought myself a pair of Quad 12l Active speakers. Although a very different presentation from my old GMA Europas, I really love the sound these speakers are producing. In addition, they look amazing which gets my wife off my back :) I am currently using my new Squeezebox Touch as my transport with great results but there are a few issues that I would love to solve.

1. I do not like the digital volume control found in the touch.
2. I would like the flexibility to connect other sources like my CD Player and
television in order to use the quads as a quasi HT system.
3. Would love the ability to use balanced outputs versus the unbalanced
which is what the manufacture recommends.

Here's the rub, I don't know what is the better option and cheaper option. A good pre with multiple inputs and balanced outs, considering the dac on the Touch is pretty darn good, or a good dac with multiple inputs that has a preamp and balanced out.

Whichever option, what would pair well with the Quads? I prefer solid versus tubes.

Once again the benchmark would be perfect
It seems like the Burson 160D suits you perfectly.
Dac/pre with multiple inputs.
It depends on how good you want the system to sound, and how much you're willing to pay. I'm not the biggest fan of the DAC/pre combos, but they're not awful by any means. I think you can get better performance in a seperate DAC and preamp if you shop wisely.

The above recommendations are good ones. If they're beyond your budget, Cambridge is releasing a new DACMagic which I believe may have a volume control. There's not a ton of info on it yet, but I'd imagine that their will be far more if it was at CES.