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  1. #1

    DAC preamp to replace Ayre QB-9 + preamp


    I recently found out that my preamp is a HUGE limitation in getting the best perfomance from my system. When i connect my Ayre QB-9 DAC directly into my poweramp and use PureMusic to control the volume I am blown away by the soundstage, detail, nuance etc.

    Since then I have auditioned a number of preamps (with and without tubes) but compared to connecting my Ayre QB-9 directly they are still limiting the performance of my system (depending on the preamp some of them perform better in one or more areas but the overall performance is still best when going direct).

    So instead I'm turning things upside down and are now looking for a DAC where I can control the volume. My list so far is the following (in no particular order):

    - Weiss DAC202
    - dCS Debussy
    - Wadia 521

    Please share thoughts, suggestions or experiences in using a set-up like this and any comparisons between the Ayre QB-9 and the listed DACs.

    The rest of my system is Avantgarde Acoustic Duo speakers, DOXA 62 poweramp and Transparent cables. I'm using MacMini with PureMusic and Ayre QB-9 DAC as source.

    Thanks for any feedback!

  2. #2
    Sophomore Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Two more suggestions for DACs with volume control:

    Bel Canto DAC3.5VB: I have a DAC3 with the VBS virtual battery supply and this is the best I've heard so far.
    PS Audio PWD: Only heard this briefly at a dealer but seemed very good (I use the corresponding transport PWT)

    ALAC iTunes library on Synology DS412+ running MinimServer with Nexus 7 tablet running BubbleUPnP for control >
    Hi-Fi 1: Airport Extreme bridge > Netgear switch > TP-Link optical isolation AND PS Audio PerfectWave Transport > PS Audio DirectStream DAC with Bridge Mk.II > Primare A60 > Harbeth SHL5plus .
    Hi-Fi 2: Sonore Rendu > Chord Hugo DAC/preamp > LFD integrated > Harbeth P3ESRs and > Sennheiser HD800

  3. #3
    Senior Member wappinghigh's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Blog Entries

    Wow some nice options there..

    At this price point, you'd have to also add in the upper end Wavelength Audio's, and the Empirical Audio as well

    I'm being objective here because I've gone down the hi-end streamer route...

    Oh, and another tip. Try and get something with good analog volume control. As a matter of fact, come to think of it, that's a nice dac you have there..Why not keep it? Do a bit of searching on the forum: consider just replacing your preamp with a dedicated passive analog volume control. Weiss make a cracker..


    New simplified setup: STEREO- Primary listening Area: Cullen Circuits Mod ZP90> Benchmark DAC1>RotelRKB250 Power amp>KEF Q Series. Secondary listening areas: 1/ QNAP 119P II(running MinimServer)>UPnP>Linn Majik DSI>Linn Majik 140's. 2/ (Source awaiting)>Invicta DAC>RotelRKB2100 Power amp>Rega's. Tertiary multiroom areas: Same QNAP>SMB>Sonos>Various. MULTICHANNEL- MacMini>A+(Standalone mode)>Exasound e28 >5.1 analog out>Yamaha Avantage Receiver>Pre-outs>Linn Chakra power amps>Linn Katan front and sides. Linn Trikan Centre. Velodyne SPL1000 Ultra

  4. #4
    Senior Member One and a half's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    You should have a read of

    Resurrecting the Pre-Amp in the next thread.

    The exact reverse of what you have in your system is applying to others where they have used a pre-amp with a lot better results with their Dacs...!
    You haven't mentioned the pre-amp you're using, maybe others have the same model and offer some assitance. At that level, even simple things like the mini power supplies, the USB cabling, for example make a lot of difference.

    Also, a search on digital volume here is invaluable, as well as driving amps directly.

  5. #5

    Agree ...

    As the OP of the "resurrecting the preamp" thread, I too would like to know which preamp you have been using. Before you trade in that QB9 (and spend big bucks on a new DAC), I suggest you audition different preamps to see if your SQ improves depending on which preamp you insert. You may find that the added gain and smoothness improves the SQ significantly. You may wish to audition tube preamps vs. solid state, etc. depending on your system. HTH
    Steve Kuh[br]Mac Mini > Glyph HD > Weiss AFI1 (slave) > modded Esoteric D70 (master) > BAT VK51SE > Classe CA400 > Harbeth Super HL5[br]\"Come on the amazing journey and learn all you should know...\"

  6. #6

    Classe CP800

    The Classe CP800 should be dropping any day now and seems like it would fit the bill nicely.
    PS Audio Quintet > Powerbook (iphone with apple remote app) > HRT Streamer II > Kingrex Pre-amp > Kingrex QS-01 > Devore Fidelity Gibbon 7.1\'s

  7. #7
    Sophomore Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    N. California

    You should also consider the

    You should also consider the Anedio DAC. I bought one recently. It produces excellent sound, has a volume control and remote and uses one of the newer ESS dac chips. It currently sells for $1270 and they offer a 30 day trial.