I am currentlly using the Z-systems RDP-1 as a preamp going into a DAC which is then fed into two SET VAIC 52B mono-block amplifiers (O dB negative feedback, 100 Kohms input impedance, 35 Watt output power). I have detected no drawbacks whatsoever from this set-up, only advantages (elimination of analog preamp grunge, cut-down on analog interconnect coloration, and the use of the extremely precise "transparent tone control" EQ for boosting extreme lows and highs, which tend to roll of with tube amps, some cartridges, etc. and for room correction and for the occassional experimentation with selective coloration and re-EQing). Your post implies that there would be problems with analog sources, but I have not had any (except that analog source are far more difficult to EQ satisfactorily than digital sources, and that a high-quality cartridge and phonostage makes things easier with the Z-system). Right now, I run a Simon Yorke turntable with a Transfiguration Temper Supreme through a phono stage (I have a few different ones, both tube and solid-state) into the radc-2 analog to digital convertor and then into the RDP-1. The RDP-1 has always operated flawlessly, and the digital volume control is--again--transparent (it is usually turned to between -40dB to -18dB with this setup, depending on the source). One thing I have learned over the year I have been using it is that the Z-Systems digital preamp responds very strongly to the benefits of a good power cable (too bad that the tiny radc-2 ADC has just a wall-wart transformer), and that the best thing to do is to use high-quality matching power cables on your Z-Systems and whatever DAC your are using. I have been using NBS cables with superb results on the Z-System. You do not have to invest very much in expensive digital cables (but the AES/EBU input is a tick better than the other inputs), but invest in power cables and--above all else--the analog cable betweent the DAC and the power amps. I have read many raves about the Z-systems and have found little that is unfounded.
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