A passive line stage.
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Only problem is, you can't control the volume. If you use the digital volume control that is the typical fare, you can expect it to sound worse than using a preamp.
The other problem is that not all CD players can control the interconnect cable, which is an essential part of the job that a preamp should do.
I ran passive preamps and no preamps for years because I got sick of spending money on active preamps that were no more than fixed position equalisers.
A good active preamp does however give better drive,bass articulation and image focus.Even the cheap NADs do this very well although they colour or degrade the sound in other areas.
When you hear a really good active preamp though you realise that this whole notion that a good preamp should have no sound is a bit of a false god.After all who talks of speakers in this way?And who has a completely neutral listening room?
What is important is that you use a preamp with a sound you like in your system and room,and that sounds good running with a wide range of other components.This does not mean that it needs to be transparent or neutral though.
Some preamps just sound great and in all sorts of systems.This is far more important than neutrality.