Completely disagreed on this point, and a lot of speaker audiophiles will also disagree with you vehemently.
Preamps add some form of coloration (some people prefer the term distortion) to the signal, and there are many people who feel that the preamp is one of the most critical parts of the chain, as the preamp influences the signal that the power amp amplifies. Consequently, there's a wealth of discussion and literature out there about the affect preamps have on the chain, including synergy and pairing.
Most people's bad experiences with preamps is due to cheap preamps degrading the quality of the signal. Conversely, high-end preamps (like the Placette Active) do an incredible job increasing the transparency of the sound, and letting the music breathe even easier. Quality preamps do a much better job than DAC volume control, and that includes high-end DACs, and you'll also need to choose between a passive or active preamp based upon your signal and goals.
Adding a preamp between my Berkeley and First Watt made a clear impact on my HE6 (toning down the etch and hardness). Choosing the wrong preamp could easily have an unwanted effect.
I think you may have misread my comment (or misread the comment I was replying to.) I wasn't speaking positively or negatively about preamps, or commenting at all on the coloration qualities a well chosen pre can add (or inflict, depending on the pre ) I was responding to a post inquiring about if there are any speaker amps with volume controls. And the answer is: yes, integrateds (if you avoid the ones with cheap pres) The posed question was if there are amps with volume control without having to go all out on separates with a pre and power, it wasn't a question about the usefulness of pres
Obviously the myriad of pres out there provide their own sound signature, and tube combinations in tube pres compound that. It's also true that there are some truly excellent integrateds out there that contain a truly excellent pre! And some of them are certainly anything but affordable
For the HE-400 the BD sounded much like the stock Canare cable but tamed the runaway treble peaks a bit...they sort of focused more with less ringing. The Q had a similar effect on the HE-6....they don't have ringing treble to start with but it did add some focus and control to the treble region. I have a Silver Dragon on the HD650 which I absolutely love (it was a fantastic finishing touch on the 650's!) I know Drew tends to recommend the silver for the HE-500, and obviously Fang made the change to silver for the stock so I'd say, yeah, go with Drew's suggestion...he knows his products!