"DCS Delius" DAC direct to Amp?

I have been looking for a new preamp of late, having a tough time making a decision. I currently have two digital sources - CD transport and a server based system (Duet) going into a DCS Purcell and on to my DCS Delius DAC. The Delius has volume control, balanced outputs and a remote control.

Has anybody run the DCS Delius direct to amp and what have your results been? I have done this twice in the past with a Wadia (didn't like it) and also with my Audio Aero Capitole (liked it a lot).

Vs. running with a legitimate preamp, what has anybody's experience been with this direct approach using the DCS equipment?
The DCS Delius does not sound anywhere as good as a late edition Audio Aero Prestige SE. I demoed a full blown DCS Verdi, Purcell, and Delius combination vs the Prestige and the Audio Aero was far superior in every way including low level resolution, there was also a wider soundstage and more texture to the instruments..

Also the Preamp section in the Audio Aero is far better as a preamp then the DCS, however, both of these units sound better as a true front end driving a really good preamplifier, my advice sell the Capitole and upgrade to a Prestige which is even better soundidng than the Captiole.
Audiofreakgeek, I agree there is certainly a lot of difference between the Delius direct and the AA components (CD players) direct. I did not own the Prestige, but I do own an AA Capitole II. My experience with the AA equipment direct is that it is "beautiful" sounding, rich, textured and extremely warm = beautiful music. This in the end turns out to be too warm/beautiful to me. In the right mode, it can't be beat, but I just can't listen to that unnatural sound ALL the time. But to me, the biggest problem with Audio Aero is that the equipment is extremely unreliable, poorly manufactured by a French company that offers terrible service and little to no support. Jody is great up in Canada (the distributor, Globe), but even the best distributor cannot compensate for a poorly made product and a mfg. that just doesn't seem to care about the US market. Maybe if I lived in France and was French I would feel a bit more comfortable, but short of that I am done with that company.
The Delius is meant to be run directly into an amplifier unless you have a SUPREME, megabucks preamplifier like the Ayre KX-R or something like that. It has a superb preamplifier on board. It is very transparent. If you don't like what you hear, you need to season with source or downstream components, cables, power regulation and noise reduction equipment,ect. No additional preamplifier is required. Most will do more harm than good and simply aren't good enough. Make no mistake, Purcell/Delius is some of the best digital on the market and there is a preamp onboard to match it. My Delius replaced a $6,000 Threshold preamplifier easily.

However, Purcell/Delius demands the finest of everything to reach its full potential. Finest digital cabling, finest power conditioning, finest source, power supply, you name it.

Rather than waste time with adding a redundant preamplifier, if you don't like the present result you should do the following to unlock the performance potential of your existing setup:

1. Upgrade the power supply to your Duet using a Channel Islands made unit. I did this for Squeezebox and it was a tremendous upgrade for $250. Night and day. Then upgrade the power cord on the Channel Islands unit to something like a Transparent Audio power cord.

3. Absolutely use the best S/PDIF cable you can afford to get the information from Duet to your Purcell. Get a Transparent Audio Reference Digital Link if you can afford one. (it is the red/purple one).

4. Upgrade the power cables on your dCS units (and source PSU) to the best you can afford (I recommend the latest Transparent Audio power cabling). It is amazing how dramatic the improvement can be.

5. Upgrade your interconnects from the Delius to the amp.

The Purcell/Delius combo is a TREMENDOUS platform you can build off of for years. Unless you have optimized your cabling and your other components, you'll never know how good a Squeezebox/Duet/dCS combo can really sound. The dCS equipment responds remarkably well to things like power conditioning and cabling.

You may get to a point where you have maximized the rest of your system and adding a preamplifier makes sense. But you will probably be surprised to find that making these less expensive optimizations brings things to level you didn't think possible.

This advice is based on my optimizing my Logitech Squeezebox/Delius/Purcell/B&W 802 setup. I added a Channel Islands Power Supply, two new Transparent brand power cords, and a four PS Audio Noise harvesters and I have a completely different system, smoother, more natural and listenable, ect. Before I did that I was considering adding $5,000 word clocks and preamplifiers and you name it. These tweaks got my system where it needed to be. The Delius truly is something special, preamp and all, but you have to build a system that is worthy of it.

You can get away with the Duet but you absolutely have get the updated Channel Islands power supply. You have to remedy that deficiency first or you will be on a wild goose chase with that as your source.
Blackstone, I am glad to hear that you were able to get these results with the Delius. I have significantly upgraded power cables on my DCS gear, pretty good digital cabling (transparent) from my Duet and Transparent balanced from my CDP to the Purcell. I have power conditioning from PS audio and dedicated lines, one for power amp and the other for digital installed in my room.

I have run numerous preamps with this combination: Aesthetix, ARC, Jeff Rowland, BAT, Cary and presently running (temporarily my Krell HTS 7.1 in direct mode). Even with this Krell HTS 7.1 (which actually has a very good preamp section when run direct), I find that the performance with the Krell is superior to the Delius (in my system and set-up). I will give it another shot as you suggest and re-position my Wilson speakers. I have found that with various preamps in the past, I needed to tweak my speaker position based on the preamps used and I did not go to nearly the same effort when I tried the Delius direct. This may have contributed to my less than completely satisfied performance. I think my cabling is fine and I did play around with various balanced interconnects between the Delius and my Krell 300c amp. I will try as you suggest with my existing cables and report back my experiences a second time.
Your system seems pretty sophisticated.

Sorry I didn't really answer your question I see now you are looking for a direct comparison between on board and external preamplifiers. The point I was trying to make is that I have found the rabbit hole to go pretty deep as far as the Delius' direct to amp performance goes. It replaced a Threshold T2 preamplifier that was priced at around $6k when it was new circa 1993. It was easily as good but I didn't start to really love the sound until I made several upgrades. Delius sounded worse when I used the Threshold as the preamplifier and my dealer advised not to use it that way.

I always figured it had at least the equivalent of a $5-6k preamplifier on board, but there seems to be no limit to how well it performs as I improve the power conditioning and source. After upgrading to even better Transparent Power cords and especially after upgrading the Squeezebox's power supply, it no longer had what I thought was a sound that was a bit analytical and a little hard on the ears. It is much fatter and smoother sounding now. Those PS Audio Noise Harvesters took quite a bit of edge off the sound recently. This is with B&W N802 speakers.

I am curious, in what way did you find the system better with the Krell?
Blackstone, I felt the entire range tightened up a bit with the Krell versus direct. I found that the sound stage expanded with the Krell vs. direct, and with that there was more air/space in the sound stage and better focus of the individual components in the sound stage.

But and this is a big but, when I put the Krell back into the system (after taking it out for the direct running from the DCS), I also made adjustment to the speaker locations. With my Wilson speakers this can be quite noticeable. This is why I want to test the direct connection again to confirm the case as whether the direct vs. Krell was really an improvement or just the result of speaker placement.

The Krell actually has a pretty good (actually better than just pretty good) preamp section. It is based on the Krell KCT preamp (but does not include the cast connections). Obviously when I use the Krell HTS 7.1 as a 2-channel preamp, it is a direct/clean signal path (balanced in/out and no processing by the HTS). I suspect the Krell (HTS 7.1) could be bested by several other preamps I am considering (ARC, Aesthetix, BAT, Rowland, etc. . .), but not by a tremendous amount.

I am interested in your comments on the CI Power supply for the Duet and am going to look into getting one. I just had new dedicated lines installed 2 weeks ago and it definately took a little bit of time for them to burn in (about 50 hours) for the sound to settle down. I was surprised at the marked difference between the virgin new power lines and the same lines after running my system for 24 hours straight (obviously not listening the whole time). Initially I felt the new lines significantly reduced my sound quality (not just a little bit). Now, the sound is significantly better than prior to the install. I am talking major difference, nothing subtle at all - like listening to an old receiver with bad speakers to listening now to a good system - that different.
I am interested into which way you went.
I have used a Duet and just changed SB Touch. The Welborne power supply made quite a difference to the Duet and in your system I'd say the difference would be far greater.
I'm running a Camelot Uther directly into a Gryphon amp and am considering changing to a Delius, though I would not be able to audition. Do you by any chance know the Uther DAC?
Best regards