Well for added warmth. You could try tube DAC as well. All I can say is I'm hearing the combo and it's a definite improvement over Emotiva alone. Less harsh for sure and maybe that's what people are looking for. While the volume control on Emotiva is fine, having a preamp really helps in how fine you can control the volume. And for $100 I can't believe people are arguing over price when they're willing to spend much more on cables. I'm sorry, but this preamp is going to affect the sound much more than cables.
The D2 is $250 as well. And for those with a $1000+ DAC which is technically superior than the D2 as far as what a DAC is supposed to do, it doesn't make sense to downgrade to the D2.
I know it's a foreign idea to most of you, this preamp thing. But we are using a speaker amp, so it opens the doors. When in Rome... This article explains the concept: http://www.ebay.com/gds/Amplifiers-tube-amp-or-solid-state-/10000000002874327/g.html
Its one of the reasons I got the RL Concero with the Mini-X as it has a lower output voltage at 1.2Vrms and gives more flexibility with the volume control. In addition I have the B&W MM-1 desktop speakers with the line-in connected to the RCA bypass outputs on the Mini-X. The line-in on the MM-1s appear to have been designed for portable devices with output limited to 1Vrms. Using DACs that output 2Vrms on the RCAs seem to overload the line in causing distortion. The lower output from the Concero does help with this as well.
The preamp section of the Mini-X is probably its weakest link adding a bit of bass and brightness in the treble. It would be interesting if we could bypass the preamp on the Mini-X and use it exclusively as a power amp with something like a tube pre-amp. All I know is that my AVR and power amp is significantly quieter than the Mini-X when hooked up to my HE-500s.
Edited by daerron - 12/15/13 at 1:03pm