- Jun 8, 2016
I don't yet have a DAVE (still saving) but I have tested a number of DAC's with both analogue and digital volume controls thus enabling them to used as preamps, in my 2 channel system.
While some aspects of the sound seem to improve running DAC direct to the power amp (Pass Labs X250.5) like the sharpness of the attack on acoustic guitar notes, I find the soundstage collapses vertically and narrows horizontally, with less sense of instrument placement within the soundstage. There is also what seems to be an added brightness, albeit slight. To me they are the most noticeable differences.
Was the smaller sound stage and blurred instrument position information 'real' ie: more true to the recording and what the preamp adds 'synthetic'? Is my preamp warming up the sound? I don't know. But I listen to music for enjoyment and I'm yet to hear a DAC that to me sounds better direct than running through my preamp.
Phonyx and Watermad,
I tried using DAVE to drive my amps directly as well as using it as a DAC connecting to a Classe CP800 preamp (a very neutral solid state preamp) and Octave Jubilee preamp (one of the best hybrid tube preamps). My observation mirrors yours. A few other reviewers also voiced this observation on their DAVE review.
I would be interested at hearing Rob Watts' personal experience on this subject.