To Preamp or not to Preamp, that is my q


To Preamp or not to Preamp, that is my question. I have a Denon DCD-1650AR which is connected directly to a Parasound HCA-2200II via Maple Audio Ambiance interconnects. Yeah, I know, low-end gear compared to most of you guys, but it sounds pretty good to me...

My intent was (and is) to keep it as simple as possible and assumed that the more direct the path and the fewer components, the more "honest" the sound reproduction would be. As I say, it does sound very good to me. But could it sound better with the addition of a quality preamp? One other related question: Adding a Preamp obviously require another set of interconnects. Do the ones between the preamp and amp need to be of the same quality as used between the player and the preamp?

In your responses, keep in mind my minimalist philosophy. I would consider adding a decent quality preamp, but I am not interested in upgrading the player, separating it to transport/DAC etc. Simple is better for me. I have no other sources, so do not need any switching capability.

Kind regards...
phydeaux
One other consideration beside output Z (impedance) of the Dennon CDP is the drive level capability. If it's capable of driving the PA to full output power then I probably wouldn't use a preamp in your situation. Compare the Dennon's max. output voltage spec. to the Parasound's input sensitivity spec. to determine compatibility. Impedance-wise the Dennon's output Z should be <1/10th the Parasound's input Z to avoid possible interconnect frequency response abberations (this expanding upon Gen's post). Likewise if you do use a preamp then its' output Z should be <1/10th the Parasound's input Z, and the Dennon's output Z should also be <1/10th the preamp's input Z.
Cable-wise the philosophy of many 'philes is to maintain equal or better interconnect quality from CD to pre, & pre to P.A. I follow that approach myself, so I use the same type interconnects for both paths.
Also, regarding use of a preamp, some users have experienced better dynamic drive from an active pre than from a passive, but at the expense of some transparency. Bear that fact in mind if/when you decide to experiment with an additional stage, because an active pre may or may not enhance dynamics over your present direct-drive approach. An active pre with a detachable AC cord also permits the flexibility of experimenting with different upgrade AC cords, if you desire to try that approach regarding tonality issues. Of course if the CDP has a detachable cord, that's yet another option in that regard.
There's no preamp....like no preamp.
A preamp can filter out alot of RF garbage that many lower mass market cd players produce (if I said that wrong go to Van Alstine's sight and they say it right) so a good preamp can make a system sound better. "Passive preamps" are technically passive control units. You probably would gain nothing with a passive control unit since your cd player would then have to drive two lengths of interconnect.
Ezmerelda is right; go passive and avoid "lower mass market CD players" like the plague. Better to have all of you moles changing color all at once!
Ezmeralda: "You probably would gain nothing with a passive preamp...."--thanks for the chucke! Yogi Berra.