PS Audio PWD run directly or use a preamp

I have a PS Audio DAC (PWD) running at 70% to 100%i volume from the DAC's preamp section into a Behringer DCX 2496 Digital Crossover (highly modified) feeding a Decware Mini Torri amp to the Tweeters on the original Emerald Physics CS2 speakers.

The Decware Mini Torii amp is a tube amp putting out less than 10 watts (enough for the tweeters)

The Bass speakers are driven by a six year old 400 watt Sunfire amp (into 4 ohms).

The Behringer provides a digital input volume control (set at -15 db). Output set at highest settings possible (bass output and treble output).

If the the mini Torii volume controls are set to the max (taking the volume control out of the signal path), the following happens:

Resolution dramatically increases with little increase in harshness or being too bright. Specific instruments and the actual sound of a voice really come out, it seems like I am hearing additional information.

The drawback is, on the analogue input only from a NPC, a little background noise (not any hum), like a whoosh (the noise of the Grado low output Statement Reference1 phono cartridge running through a JLTI preamp). This sound disappears if the Mini Torii volume is set below the maximum setting.

It seems to be worth the tradeoff.

In this setup, the PWD works as a wonderful preamp no other tubes in the path are needed.

- See more at:

After reading Paul McGowan's comment (Below),

I have purchased a used Aesthetix Calypso tube preamp ( I just need to figure out which Gold Lion tubes Paul bought)

I will let you know how it works ahead of my Behringer Digital Crossover (more tubes into my system?)

See my post above for further details.

If I do not like the result, I will be selling it, let me know if you want to try it in your system.

I could not resist trying it after reading Paul's comments


Paul McGowan's post from page one of this discussion:

Well, I installed the Aesthetix Calypso tube preamp nearly three days ago. I put in the special Gold Lion tubes, as recommended. I realized that they made this thing 17.75 inches wide and so it doesn't even fit in my rack. ( I had to take off the thick side plates to even get it in.

Without much break in I can tell you crow is being eaten tonight. I'll certainly do a more thorough evaluation than that, but the bottom line is - at least as far as this preamp and in this setup - I was dead wrong. The thing is amazing. It makes everything I listen to sound more like music - music you can almost reach out and touch - than I have ever heard.

Now I will admit I am not the best listener around - many of you are much better than I - but what I am good at is figuring out how and why something works the way it does - and that's going to be my new challenge.
Hows your Dodge Dart doing?
83 Alfa Spider Veloce, Red with Tan leather seats, and a perfectly matching wood steering wheel, if it only has air conditioning (as I live in Nashville) I would still own it.

It must be all Italian to be a true Alfa.

Now that's no Dodge, maybe a Fiat 500 Abarth convertible.
I just spent a few days going back and forth with and without an Innersound ref preamp vs ps audio PWDAC II direct to Innersound DPR ref 500 amp. My conclusion. It sounds better with the preamp. It's a little more transparent without but the preamp gives it more space and life it's a little sterile without. I've always found the preamp to be the soul of a system and in this case that definition is well suited.
You should log onto PS Audio and read up on Paul's posts. He has a daily email he sends out. Just recently Paul stated that it helps to have a pre-amp in the system. He honestly can't explain it from an engineering standpoint but from a listener point of view is another story.