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Berkeley RS DAC - with or without preamp?

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I'm wondering if anyone with experience listening to the Berkeley RS DAC can offer an opinion on if you prefer to have a separate preamp with this or go directly and bypass preamp (use Berkeley as the preamp).


I have ordered the DAC and await arrival in the next month or 2. Any thoughts on this would be MUCH appreciated! As for system, I have Rockport Atria speakers but I am likely upgrading amp (and maybe preamp) to better match with overall system in the process. So I'm quite interested in any views on this.


I will definitely do some test listening with and without preamp (with the wonderful folks at Goodwin's in Boston area) but would love other's views of this issue.





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I think it will depend most on your amplifier. You certainly lose any losses from the extra cables, cable connectors, and all the circuitry in the preamp. My guess (don't have the berkeley DAC) is that the output is low impedance, and would drive most amps without an issue. In my system, going straight to amps was sonically better in all regards than running through my preamp (Pass Aleph P), which is a reasonably "transparent" design.


But some amps will want a bit more drive before their gain stage, etc. So, since you may be changing your amps also, it will be worth trying both with and without. The no preamp set up is less flexible though. (In terms of input selection.)

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I'm currently using my Berkeley RS with an Audionet Pre G2 preamp and prefer using it with the preamp vs. on its own.

Of course, it will be best to test the specific preamp in the audio chain before making a final decision. I'm only answering for my particular combination of components.


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I auditioned some equipment at Goodwins over the summer. The great thing there is that they don't try to sell you, they try to help you figure out what equipment sounds good to you. Even if it is a less expensive alternative. FWIW, the salesman I worked with there told me that if he was listening with all digital sources, he wouldn't use a pre.


But I think in consultation with Goodwins, narrow it down to one or two amps. Then audition them with your model DAC and speakers, and see if you like it better with or without a pre. The people at Goodwins will certainly know which components will work together well.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +>Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Strip/Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three (on their own electric circuit) >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Path: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Cayin iDAC6 MKII (tube mode) (XLR)>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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