Preamplifier: Yes or NO ?

I post this thread because I want to know your opinion about the use of the preamplifier or if no preamplifier is better. A few years ago I tried the old Wadia 6 CD Player with volumen control. Althought it sounded very well without preamplifier I felt the sound lost body.
I red that many brands improved the volumen control in they CD Players so I want to know if you could compare with or without preamplifier.
So if you have CD Player like Wadia, Mark Levinson or Audio Aero, please let me know your opinion.
In any case, there are lots of threads in the archives about this. Try a search using multiple words "cd volume control".
"Yes" is my answer also. Search on "passive active" and you will find a long-running discussion of passive vs. active preamps. Passive preamps are pretty close to no preamp at all, they do switching of sources and volume control but don't add gain.
As the saying goes, "the best pre-amp is NO pre-amp."
A good preamp is a good thing if it gets out of the way of the music. The preamps I like are the Rowlands, Levinsons, Audio Research LS15, LS16, LS25, Reference line etc...all great. The Conrad Johnson pre's are also good. Try before you buy though. I find the stage grows in depth and vertical expansion. There isn't more transparency, just growth. There are more good pre's, try all you have access to. The best for the least is the one to get...
It all comes down to the volume control and output of the CDP. A buddy of mine has a Metronome CDP but it has a low end volume control. It sounded very nice until we added a preamp into his system (all preamps gave the same results when we added one) soundstage grew, dynamics grew, etc. That being said, I had the Wadia 861, Resolution Audio Opus 21 and Accuphase 77 in my system. The difference was much less then my friends. Add in the cost of another pair of ICs, power cord, tubes for a tube preamp and well you get the picture. I have not tried the Levinson or Audio Aero Capital CDPs that are supposed to have very good volume controls. I also have not tried a modified CDP with volume such as Modwrigth or APL. These will cost as much as the preamp.

So is a preamp better, that depends on what you feel is better and how much you want to spend. You get what you pay for.

Happy Listening.
Yes. I have an Opera Audio Consonance Reference 2.2 CD player (volume control) and I greatly prefer a preamp (at least mine - Mapletree Audio 2A SE) in line. It offers a much fuller and more vibrant sound. To confirm that the preamp is not adding anything not present in the recording I had a friend over who has been recording voice, piano, and small ensembles for many years. He brought over his own recordings to play and felt that my system was true to the recorded material and sounded astonishingly well.
A "Yes" for me. I have never gotten good results without one - despite having amps and CD players with volume controls. But this will always be system dependant so there is surely no absolute answer.

Another "yes" here as well.

I have not gotten good results without preamps even though I had an Audio Aero DAC with built in preamp and vol control, and with a vol control on my current cdp. There was always "something" missing.
NO--in my system I only have one source, an Audio Aero Capatole mk2. I tried it with my BAT VK50se and without. I sold the BAT and bought some nice IC's. In my system, and to my ears it clearly sounds better going direct!!! You will have to try it for yourself in your room with your system. There is no right or wrong.
FWIW. Bought a Wadia 302 and connected it to my preamps(s) as per the conventional wisdom and the reviews recommendations as well. Yawn!

Connected direct to 4 different amps, 3 tubed, one SS = 1 ok, 2 duds, and one with outstanding results and I now have the best sound I've ever had and without a pre-amp. Pays to keep and open mind and experiment if you can!
preamps can add some "solor" to the sound. given the dubious sound quality of most cds and some lps, a preamp, especially a vintage tube specimen, is necessary to avoid ear fatigue.
Mrtennis: What is "solor?" Regardless, you offer no proof -- just your opinion, which, given your stated preferences, isn't worth a great deal to many of us in Audiogon Land.

I have found that a Wadia 861 SE with the Great Northern Sound Company Reference mod run directly to my ARC VT100MKIII sounds pretty darn good with no "ear fatigue" whatsoever. It's crucial, though, to set the internal switches correctly so that the majority of your listening is done in the 70-100 volume range. A lot of people don't do that and conclude that it doesn't sound good. That is hardly the proper way to make an evaluation.

Oh, I tried several high-end preamps, including ones from Audio Research and Pass, and thought the Wadia sounded better IN MY SYSTEM without the preamp.
I think that if the current and impedance matches between the source and amp match well it is best to avoid the complexity, circuitry, and power supplies of an active preamplifier. You still need a very high quality volume control and there are not too many better than those found on the Placette passive preamps.
hi 9rw, i thought you gave up the hobby.

i meant color, not "solor". yes you are correct. there is no proof. as i have said before all staements dependent upon perception are anecdotal and hence opinion--yours, mine and anyone else.

i appreciate that you remind me what i have said in the past.

why is one opinion more or less useful than another ?

my preferences do not preclude me from honest evaluations.
i have no reason to misrepresent.

what one listens to in the privacy of one's listening environment does not benefit me in any way. i am not an audio dealer and i have no ego.
"I have no ego"

ROTFLMAO. If you have no 'ego' why do you argue or justify you posts when folks either denegrate you or your opinions. In truth I sense a huge ego lurking in at least your sub-conscious.

I find it facinating and yet cannot understand why you persist in posting about your personal audio preferences in an 'audiophile forum'. You are certainly intelligent enuf to understand that these opinions are clearly not representative of/or relative to the goals of folks buying equipment here.

It's as if you do it only to goad folks into responding negatively to you and/or your posts. But why would you do that? I guess I've have to get out some of my psych texts.
Thanks, Newbee. The fact Mrtennis continues to post here is baffling. Maybe he likes the abuse.

Actually, Mrtennis, some opinions are indeed more useful than those of others. Yours, for instance. You have to establish some credibility before people care what you think about components. And, no, I have not given up this hobby. Music and the equipment used to reproduce music have been dear to me for more than 30 years. I've let countless others take you to task for some of your moronic posts. Some of your more recent posts, however, have actually been more in line with what we try to accomplish through the forum. They've almost come across as being, dare I say, genuine, instead of merely being designed to provoke.

For being a "writer" and "reviewer," it's amazing how careless you are when it comes to spelling. It tends to undermine the points you're trying to make.
it seems to me that an audiofile forum is a place where perosnal opinions and preferences are raised. in fact, people express their attitudes about many things.

newbee, you ask a good question and you are straight forward. i like that.

i will try to answer the question regarding presentation of opinions which are diametrically opposed to the "conventional wisdom" and opposed to many who read and post their opinions in this forum.

first, i am an independent thinking person and by nature, somewhat iconoclastic.

i have had a lot of experience listening to a variety of stereo systems. as such, i have some very strong opinions.

my central hypothesis is that most stereo systems are imbalnced, with too much energy in the region 1000 to 3000 hz.

yes, this is an opinion. i can't prove it any more than somewhat who disagrees with me.

i am trying to have a civil discourse with people who disagree with me. it is unfortunate that some take my comments personally. it is only audio--material things.

as to the ego. i have strong convinctions and am willing to assert them. i do not benefit in any way from the decisions and attitudes others may have regarding topics of an audio nature. if someone agrees with me and buys something, i do not gain. in fact, i may not even be aware of such a purchase.

i have a lot of schooling beyond college and have a philosopical bent. i guess you could say i like to debate.
debating and discussion keeps my brain cells from atrophying, so i guess i should thank you for keeping me on my toes.

you can draw your own conclusions as to whether or not i have an ego, beyond what what would be construed as a normal sense of self.

i hope this clears the air.
Okay... I have Wadia 861 and Emm Labs Dcc-2. I have the Audio Research Ref II mk II, Krell KRC-HR and MBL 6010D so I can speak with some authority on this. I have ever tried to run the internal volume controls direct to the amp. Theoretically, one less cable, one lesselectronic box should certainly make the sound more true to the source. Alas, in this as in many audiophile things, I have found this not to be the truth. The internal units have generally no gain, and many CDs will require a bit of gain, these volume controls are generally attenuators, not variable gain controls. For instance, Grover Washington Winelight would not play loud enough without a real preamplifier. Elduende, I agree with you that without a preamplifier the Wadia 861 at least lost body. I added the ARC Ref2 MKII and got added body, and more rounded and full sound, a more "lifelike" event. Additionally a preamp allows me to adjust the balance between channels for better soundstaging, etc. My next revelation was just recently. I was running the dcc-2 direct to a tube amp and JMLab Alto Be's. for two years. I kept thinking the tube amp needed biasing or something, as piano sounded incredibly distorted, edgy, and basically seemed like it was dynamically overwhelming the amp, or so I thought. I purchased MBL101e's and noticed the same thing, and replaced the driver tubes on the amp as the bias was dead nuts on. It made no difference and in fact the distortion and edgyness sounded worse on the 101e's. My dealer inserted the MBL 6010d in the system, and suddenly there was no distortion, the music was much more of a whole, and much more of an event. The soundstage deepenned. The whole system was transformed even more than when I tried solid state monoblocks vs the tube amp, which is what lead me to try the preamp. I bought the preamp on the spot. Adcom makes a preamp that was rated Class A by Sterophile though. I had it in a second system, and it had a bypass switch, to just end up with a passive attenuator. The thing to me sounded like crap compared to the "bypass" position, it was an eye opening experience. So perhaps trying a passive device might be your cup of tea. Additionally some recordings are out of phase, generally preamps have a phase button so that one can fix the problem. I might have been totally satisfied with the Alto Be's if I had tried a preamp first sad to say.

As to the SUBSTANCE of mrtennis's assertion :that a tubed pre might be helpful in decreasing digital fatigue due to the poor execution of most digital, there may be some truth in it. Assuming proper execution ( low noise from source component) and excellent extraction of information ( cutting edge DAC's etc.) there is still a "digital" sound which is ameliorated by various output stage strategies. A TAS roundtable once brought up sibilance ( a real microphone artifact) being lessened by tubes and did this mean that tubes "smear" ( alter/color) the sound to a more pleasing one ? I think it is not a coincidence that Alexs'(APL) latest creations use low noise/error components, a dizzying array of DACs ( high info extraction) and then a TUBED output stage. Is this because tubes are more accurate than solid state( true to the ones and zeros as they come off the disc ) or because they sound better because digital is an imperfect medium in reproducing what sounds like live music ? I don't pretend to know the answer but it might be that in the absense of such an output strategy a tube preamp might improve the quality of sound and decrease digital fatigue even if it is not more "accurate" in the strictest sense of the word. - Jim
+1 votes for pre-amps.

I would also note its not just a matter of impedance matching. I have a dCS Delius that, at least according to the specs, should have had no problems driving my ARC VT100s. But, I had the classic "no pre-amp" problems--music lost punch, dynamics. I slapped in an ARC LS-8 and the world became much better.

Preamp all the way... I've owned the Wadia 27ix and it never sounded good unless I had a preamp in the chain... more body, more emotive, etc. I also recently heard the Meitner front-end both directly to the amp and with a pre- in the mix... again, the preamp adds just that extra palpability that makes music sound like music.

Just my preferences.

Thank you very much for your answer and recomendations.
Yes - just take care of source-amp sinergy (Voltage, impendance, etc..) I run my Accuphase CDP directly to my amps, no problems, better transparency, resolution, etc.
I think active stages have advanced far enough to make most forget about passive.
I've thought about a TVC or a resistive passive attenuator as an alternative to my tube pre, and I will probably get around to trying one soon. As related experience, I've tried several active and passive analog output stages inside my modded CDP, including, most recently, two varieties of high-end silver 1:2 step-up transformers and a battery-powered 1:1 SS buffer. The preamp & transformer specs would indicate that the transformer alone should have an easy time driving short cables into the benign 100K input impedance presented by the tube pre. And indeed the passive transformer output alone does sound gloriously natural, smooth & detailed. But nearly all of the transformer's strengths are are retained, and dynamics, linearity, and LF control are significantly enhanced, by adding a very simple SS buffer circuit at the CDP output. So I will probably end up building a TVC like the Bent Audio or the Audio Consulting Silver Rock kit, and trying it both ways with and without a battery-powered buffer circuit. Bottom line, even with adequate gain at the source and good impedance matching, one can probably benefit from adding current drive of an active buffer.
With my system,I dont need Preamp,I have the SonyModwright
DVP9000es,My cdp is much better than when a $2400 preamp
is connected...Definitely I am not missing anything...