There really isn't a separate preamp section, the signal that you output to a separate preamp is the same signal when run direct. The PWD controls volume in the digital domain, not the analog domain like a preamp does. When using a separate preamp you were probably running it at 100, but when using the PWD as a preamp you will be running less than 100. Keep in mind you should try to keep the volume for serious listening above 60 (approximately). You can go a little lower for casual or background listening, but below 60 you start losing data due to the digital volume control. When I had a PWD I tried running it direct but my amp was too sensitive and I had the volume in the 50s most of the time. Now I have a DirectStream and it's volume control is much more adaptable.
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