Preamp or Not to Preamp?

Have very expensive equipment, over $50k invested. But found myself strictly listening to digital on the main system. In the past went direct out with Wadia(about 5 yrs ago before the 800 series), and never had enough explosion of soundstage. Tried passive preamp, and just too week for bass. Want to loosen up some money tied up in the system. Using a Reference 2 line stage by Audio Research. Have the AR 600s mono-blocks, and just go with another Wadia digital out?? I could be saving thousands if I dumped the preamp.
how does it sound? i'd be surprised if it sounded better straight-in, but you have the equipment; try it both ways & decide for yourself. personally, if ya wanna save some money, i'd bet the preamp w/a much less expensive cd player would sound better than the wadia straight-in... regards, doug
Thanks for the advice Sedond. Will try and leave feedback.
I second Sedond's recommendation. I think the ARC's power supplies and output stages are superior to those in any CD player, and that could make a significant difference. But it doesn't hurt to try, and your ears are the best judge in this case.
I probably can't answer your question anyway, but before anyone can, isn't some more information needed? WHAT Wadia digital source did you play straight in? WHAT passive preamp did you try? I'm a big passive fan myself, and am trying to sell a CAT SL 1 III in consequence, despite its transparancy having been improved by simplifying the signal path. But with my Accuphase DP-75, it's very clear that no preamp is better than even a very good passive preamp, much less the CAT, which comes in a poor third. If a modern Wadia doesn't sound better to you straight in, my suspicion would be that you've become fond of artifacts, which is okay but no criticism of the straight in option. One more factor to consider: how MUCH digital attenuation did you need? The 800 Wadias allow you to adjust so as to need very little, and maybe your older Wadia required you to use too much.
Be shure to adjust the analog output in the Wadia. The best Preamp is no preamp.
My preference is no pre amp. The reall problem is the impedance match with your power amps. I've owned Wadia (DP-75) and I did not prefer it staraight in. It has trouble really driving some power amps and the digital based volume control will drop bits and cause the sound to roll off at both top and bottom extensions it is a much better player with a pre amp IMO. An analog volume control will give better results as long as the player used has the same ability to resolve detail that the Wadia does (no slouch) I prefer the Resolution Audio resolves like a Wadia and will drive most power amps with aplomb. The wadia sounded best to me with the ARC Ref One Pre Amp. Just my Take!!!
i can't imagine *any* cd player that would sound better straight-in, then thru a *good* preamp. my brother-in-law has a resolution-audio cd player. it sounded better thru even a reasonably-priced alchemist kraken preamp (retail $1080), than straight-in. one person's opinion, doug.
I have the Wadia 850 running straight into a Jeff Rowland Model 2 Amp. I have been very pleased with the results. This type of direct configuration, bypassing a pre-amp, is recommended by Wadia. There was a very interesting article on this subject (as well as the impact of the digital domain volume control) in a review of the Wadia 850 in FI magazine (now defunct). I do not recall the date of the issue but it had Paul McCartney on the cover. I adjusted the internal attenuation of the Wadia 850 so that I am usually listening at the 85 to 95 volume range (out of 100). If you are usually listening below 80 you will lose information. Also, there is a significant difference, as you probably know, between the effects of interconnects on the soundstage. Before considering a pre-amp, you may want to compare interconnects.
I have tried a Wadia 830 directly intu\o Classe and Krell amps. I did not like it. The air and dynamics were missing. It also sounded harsh and aggressive. With a good preamp, such as the Classe CP50, the sound is much better.
I have never found an active preamp to sounded better in context of my system. My theta gen. va has alway sounded best with a passive unit to the cary 805c. Details I was accustomed to were missing with active preamps. The two dogs on Roger Waters, Amused to death, would turn to one dog. If I Knew dogs, I could tell which breeds with the passive unit. This was not true with the active preamps I have tried. I will not name them because I have heard them sound great in the context of friends systems. You must try them yourself and discover your cup of tea. maybe the gen Va with 3.5 volts of output is all the 805c need being they only need 1 volt for full output. It could also be I am ignorant of other qualities I am missing. Please Keep me ignorant because my system sound great.
I've used both. Some DACs and CD players with volume work better than others. Bidats and Accuphase work well straight in, from my experience. My Wadia did not...too forward and digital sounding. Very transparent pre-amps have their advantages. There are trade offs either way. A good explanantion is offered by Guy Hammel on his web-site,
I've tried the "No Preamp" approach...the music always sounded harder and less musical...passive preamps suck most of the "drive" from the music...a good active preamp is essential~