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Simplifying signal path and hopefully improving sound quality

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I've been thinking about what changes I might make in my "system" to further simplify it, and hopefully improve it, preferably within my limited budget. My current setup is in my sig line.


Here are some alternatives I have been pondering, given that I only have one music source (mac mini):


(1) mini -> DAC -> Dodd tube buffer -> Amp -> passive crossover speakers


(2) mini -> DAC -> Amp -> passive crossover speakers


(3) mini + software crossover -> multi-channel DAC -> Amps -> crossovers removed from speakers


The advantage of #1 and #2 is I can skip the pre-amp stage. If I use Audirvana Plus with dithered volume control, is there any reason I can't skip the Dodd buffer? How do I determine if I need impedance matching?


Option #3 is more of a tinkering project to play with active bi-amping.


The Dodd tube buffer kit (without tube) is about $150, and I could put it in my current amp case, so that part would only cost me around $300 or so to implement. I could then either use my Peachtree DAC or get something else (maybe a kit like a Twisted Pair, which I would need to do for option #3).


Any thoughts?



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Well Bill IME the only way to know if you need a buffer is to try. I use a Twisted Pear DAC that purportedly does not need one, and yet I prefer one in the form of a transformer volume control. I take a small hit in dynamics for adding body (or meat on the bones as I have heard it). It is good w/o, but more to my taste with. One just has to try it as it is really a synergy thing. I am running Magnepans at the moment and that might be a part of it. When I put back in my electrostats I will most likely want the dynamics back


SET and Lowthers. Mark is playing with you as you might imagine. Single drivers and SET are magical, but very limited in many aspects.



Win10 i9 9900KS/GTX1060 HQPlayer4>Win10 NAA

DSD>Pavel's DSC2.6>Bent Audio TAP>

Parasound JC1>"Naked" Quad ESL63/Tannoy PS350B subs<100Hz

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