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Preamp Suggestions Request...yes I know this is the DAC Section


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I'm currently a happy owner of a 1st Gen Peachtree Audio Decco. I've since acquired a McIntosh MC240 that will be building a new system around. Running the Decco off the pre-out is ok, but a little noisier than I would like. I'm looking for suggestions for a preamp & DAC as I start my research for my next step up the ladder.

 

Requirements:

Decent DAC for input from a Airport Express

At least one analog or a phono input (phono quality lower priority than digital as most music will be digital)

Headphone amp (quality lower priority than the preamp since most music will be listened to through speakers)

1-box solution prefered

$2K total buget

 

Candidates so far:

Peachtree Audio Nova 65 or 125se

Burson Conductor

Oppo HA-1

Burson Soloist + Schiit Bifrost

Schiit Valhala + Bifrost (would have to get creative for phono)

 

Any inputs you could provide to continue my search would be greatly appreciated.

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You might take a look at this one from Emotiva.

 

Emotiva

 

Has everything you want except a DAC. Price is $888, so you could get a stand alone DAC to feed it.

 

 

Also, you probably will find units with everything you want except phono. Emotiva makes this phono pre-amp:

 

Emotiva Price is $141. I know someone with one, and the sound quality of it is very good. Has adjustable cartridge loading and will do MC as well as MM cartridges.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Since you aren't concerned with DSD take a look at the $2k Benchmark DAC2, it has excellent preamp functions, gain-staging, and DSD64. It is a vastly more complete and well-designed unit than most, look at the features and reviews. Everyone seems to love this unit, a killer deal:

 

Benchmark DAC2

Mac Mini 2012 with 2.3 GHz i5 CPU and 16GB RAM running newest OS10.9x and Signalyst HQ Player software (occasionally JRMC), ethernet to Cisco SG100-08 GigE switch, ethernet to SOtM SMS100 Miniserver in audio room, sending via short 1/2 meter AQ Cinnamon USB to Oppo 105D, feeding balanced outputs to 2x Bel Canto S300 amps which vertically biamp ATC SCM20SL speakers, 2x Velodyne DD12+ subs. Each side is mounted vertically on 3-tiered Sound Anchor ADJ2 stands: ATC (top), amp (middle), sub (bottom), Mogami, Koala, Nordost, Mosaic cables, split at the preamp outputs with splitters. All transducers are thoroughly and lovingly time aligned for the listening position.

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The jolida fusion dac/pre looks nice, but lacks the headphone out as far as I can tell. Would have enough left over to throw a DSpeaker dual core between the airport express and the dac/pre. Adds a box but provides room correction without ADC and reclocks that high jitter from the AEx

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I can't believe I forgot about Benchmark. DAC2 is definitely on the list. Also, good call on the jitter from the AEx. US prices for the DSPeaker would blow the budget, but a Wyred 4 Sound Remedy might be necessary for some of the less robust DAC options.

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Since you aren't concerned with DSD take a look at the $2k Benchmark DAC2, it has excellent preamp functions, gain-staging, and DSD64. It is a vastly more complete and well-designed unit than most, look at the features and reviews. Everyone seems to love this unit, a killer deal:

 

Benchmark DAC2

 

+1

 

Check out their web site - they have superseded models reduced by 30% - I have the DAC 1 HDR and have had 4 years of trouble free excellent sound and it is now only $1,295 new, however, the new and by all accounts greatly improved DAC 2 HGC is right on your $2k budget.

 

Benchmark Media Systems, Inc. - All Products

LOUNGE: Mac Mini - Audirvana - Devialet 200 - ATOHM GT1 Speakers

OFFICE : Mac Mini - Audirvana - Benchmark DAC1HDR - ADAM A7 Active Monitors

TRAVEL : MacBook Air - Dragonfly V1.2 DAC - Sennheiser HD 650

BEACH : iPhone 6 - HRT iStreamer DAC - Akimate Micro + powered speakers

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The jolida fusion dac/pre looks nice, but lacks the headphone out as far as I can tell. Would have enough left over to throw a DSpeaker dual core between the airport express and the dac/pre. Adds a box but provides room correction without ADC and reclocks that high jitter from the AEx

 

if you can get a deal on the dual core - i got mine used for about $750 - and are not concerned about high-rez (the processing is done at 24/48 i believe), i would try to fit it in if you're talking about spending $2K total. It can be used as a DAC and preamp as well, though I prefer it working purely in the digital domain.

 

Edit: meant to reply to ehrawn's post

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Take a look at the Auralic Taurus Pre...very nice stuff, here.

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

Synology DS213+ NAS -> Auralic Vega w/Linear Power Supply -> Auralic Vega DAC (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> XLR -> Auralic Taurus Pre -> XLR -> Pass Labs XA-30.5 power amplifier (on 4" maple and 4 Stillpoints) -> Hawthorne Audio Reference K2 Speakers in MTM configuration (Symposium Jr HD rollerball isolation) and Hawthorne Audio Bass Augmentation Baffles (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> Bi-amped w/ two Rythmic OB plate amps) -> Extensive Room Treatments (x2 SRL Acoustics Prime 37 diffusion plus key absorption and extensive bass trapping) and Pi Audio Uberbuss' for the front end and amplification

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i checked, that doesn't have dac or phono? or what model did you mean...link?

 

Sorry, misunderstood the OP. That said, it is used with any source...could be DAC, could be phono pre, etc. It takes one XLR input and three RCA single ended inputs, so you can have up to four sources. It has an A weighted s/n of 130db which is quite impressive. Again, not an all in one unit...just a really nice pre amp that handles switching sources and volume without any noise (comes with a really nice gain stage: "inspired by Neve 8078 analog console’s circuit design, AURALiC developed ORFEO Class-A module"). It is found on the Auralic web page.

 

I have one and really like it and saw the $2K price thinking that was for the pre only. My apologies...

 

John

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

Synology DS213+ NAS -> Auralic Vega w/Linear Power Supply -> Auralic Vega DAC (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> XLR -> Auralic Taurus Pre -> XLR -> Pass Labs XA-30.5 power amplifier (on 4" maple and 4 Stillpoints) -> Hawthorne Audio Reference K2 Speakers in MTM configuration (Symposium Jr HD rollerball isolation) and Hawthorne Audio Bass Augmentation Baffles (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> Bi-amped w/ two Rythmic OB plate amps) -> Extensive Room Treatments (x2 SRL Acoustics Prime 37 diffusion plus key absorption and extensive bass trapping) and Pi Audio Uberbuss' for the front end and amplification

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Sorry, misunderstood the OP. That said, it is used with any source...could be DAC, could be phono pre, etc. It takes one XLR input and three RCA single ended inputs, so you can have up to four sources. It has an A weighted s/n of 130db which is quite impressive. Again, not an all in one unit...just a really nice pre amp that handles switching sources and volume without any noise (comes with a really nice gain stage: "inspired by Neve 8078 analog console’s circuit design, AURALiC developed ORFEO Class-A module"). It is found on the Auralic web page.

 

I have one and really like it and saw the $2K price thinking that was for the pre only. My apologies...

 

John

 

no need to apologize, i was just curious because i am looking for one myself...

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Take a look at the webpage then:

 

AURALiC

 

Under the Audiophile Design and Creation tab on the right, select the Taurus Pre. They have two "Taurus" models so make sure it is the line stage model, not the Mk II headphone amp. If you click the Technical Features and the Specifications tabs you can read a lot of detail. You have to click the "back" link to go from one to the other.

 

The legendary Neve 8078 Class A gain stage and 130 db dynamic range are the two unique features that make this pre amp special.

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

Synology DS213+ NAS -> Auralic Vega w/Linear Power Supply -> Auralic Vega DAC (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> XLR -> Auralic Taurus Pre -> XLR -> Pass Labs XA-30.5 power amplifier (on 4" maple and 4 Stillpoints) -> Hawthorne Audio Reference K2 Speakers in MTM configuration (Symposium Jr HD rollerball isolation) and Hawthorne Audio Bass Augmentation Baffles (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> Bi-amped w/ two Rythmic OB plate amps) -> Extensive Room Treatments (x2 SRL Acoustics Prime 37 diffusion plus key absorption and extensive bass trapping) and Pi Audio Uberbuss' for the front end and amplification

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Someone over at Audiogon has been speaking highly about a Jeff Rowland Capri preamp with an internal DAC option. I myself generally don't like preamps with included DAC, but Jeff Rowland is one name I certainly respect in amps and preamps, so I would check it out.

 

BTW, I own an MC275 and when I was looking for a pre the Capri was in the list. Eventually I decided to go with a tube preamp though.

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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Both the Auralic and Jeff Roland pre's look awesome but don't leave room for an external DAC in the budget. I hear you about a tube pre, but I'm partial to the one box solution (integration is always hardest in system engineering and I can't shake those habits). I like what the 240 does for the sound out of my Decco. I guess with this move, I'm looking for a DAC and pre that don't need as much help...in the $2k range. Looking at the Bechmark page the other day, I almost pulled the trigger on that DAC-1 close out. Such a good deal.

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Not sure what you mean. The Capri S2 has the option to have a DAC integrated inside the preamp...

Don't know what the price is, though. Yet if it were outside your budget but this was the unit you wanted I would contact Jeff Rowland (super customer service!) and ask if they would add the DAC into a unit you bought used. And I would buy it used at Audiogon. They show up frequently and Rowland pieces are built to last.

 

BTW, I'm assuming you are doing your due diligence before buying something you haven't heard. Right? Some people love the Benchmark, some have called it harsh/brittle. I haven't heard one and hence have no point of view on this, but I would do a fair amount of reading before dropping tubes and diving into a SS unit that has been often referred to as super-detailed and thin.

Roon Server: general purpose Gigabyte GA-Z170X UD5, i5 6600, Crucial MX200 SSD, HyperX 1x16GB RAM, Win 10 Pro, convolving in Roon digital xo + DRC + upsampling. Output through ethernet.

Roon Client AudioPC: Uptone etherRegen (with LPS 1.2) into Intel S1200KPR, Xeon E3 1265lv2, Crucial V4 SSD for OS, 8GB ECC RAM, Streacom FC8 Evo case, lab linear PSU, Windows Server 2019, AudioPhil's Optimizer, Acourate (digital xo, room correction)

Rest of Chain: Lynx Hilo as 8-channel DAC, McIntosh MC275 MkIV for mids & treble, Hypex UcD400HG for midbass into DIY dipoles 18" midbass/2x8" mids/AMT tweeter, 2 DIY 12" Rythmik subs, Equi=Core 1800 balanced power, dedicated power lines, room treatments

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Not sure what you mean. The Capri S2 has the option to have a DAC integrated inside the preamp...

Don't know what the price is, though.

 

Correct.

 

Capri S2: $4,000

Optional DAC card: $450

Speaker Room: Lumin U1X | Lampizator Golden Gate 2 | Viva Linea | Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature Monoblocks | FinkTeam Kim | Revel subs  

Office Headphone System: Lumin U1X | Lampizator Big 7 updated to GG 2 specs | Viva Egoista | Hifiman HE-1000SE/Audeze LCD-4z

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