• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Digital Preamp? (or Predac?)

Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Messages
5
Likes
2
#1
Is there such a thing as a digital preamp, i.e. something that can switch between different digital sources feeding into one main DAC? I just got a new DAC and want to use it with all my various digital sources.

Like many audiophiles I have lots of options: 2 computers, a CD player, a CCA, plus a DAP. I’d like them to all go through my new DAC, but it has only one SPDIF input, so if I change sources I have to switch them by hand. Plugging them all into one DAC won’t work – most DACs have no more than 2 coax inputs, in addition to the various other types of inputs.

With the rise in $1,000+ DACs it seems the whole idea of an analogue preamp is kind of outdated. Wouldn’t you want to use your expensive DAC for everything? If you only rely on a analogue preamp you’ll need a different DAC for each audio source.

So… is there such a thing as a digital preamp? If not, it sure looks like a good market opportunity.
 

Blumlein 88

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
5,681
Likes
4,660
#2
There are some things which would serve your purpose. How much is your budget for this?

You might be better of in terms of effective cost to get a DAC that has multiple inputs on it already. Depends on how much you wish to spend.
 

RayDunzl

Major Contributor
Central Scrutinizer
Joined
Mar 9, 2016
Messages
6,788
Likes
2,874
Location
Riverview, FL
#3

sergeauckland

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
Messages
793
Likes
1,399
Location
Suffolk UK
#4
I've been looking for something similar myself. I'd like a preamp with remote control or better still a PC app, with several analogue inputs and a decent ADC, several digital inputs and a properly dithered digital volume control which outputs AES-EBU or S-PDIF.

At the moment, I have all my sources, including the digital ones, converted to analogue and going through a conventional analogue preamp so that I can have source selection and volume control, then digitised again in the DSP-based active crossover. Whilst I know that the ADC/DAC process is transparent, it would be nice if I didn't have to have multiple conversions where unnecessary. All the preamps I've seen that have digital inputs, output analogue, not variable volume digital.

S.
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
80
Likes
86
Location
China
#5
Did you mean some kind of things like this?
-667922263.jpg
-983911065.jpg

It's called Digital Audio Switch, could be remote controlled, cost about 20 dollars on taobao, supports 4 in 1 out or 4 in 2 out, depend on which brand you buy.
 

sergeauckland

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
Messages
793
Likes
1,399
Location
Suffolk UK
#6
If you were replying to me, then that's not what I need. I do use a standard 4x1 analogue switcher for S-PDIF coaxial as it works fine just using one of the two stereo channels. It's the properly dithered digital volume control and digital output I can't seem to get.

S.
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
80
Likes
86
Location
China
#7
If you were replying to me, then that's not what I need. I do use a standard 4x1 analogue switcher for S-PDIF coaxial as it works fine just using one of the two stereo channels. It's the properly dithered digital volume control and digital output I can't seem to get.

S.
Oops... Sorry, I was replying to the OP, I don't think you could get a digital volume control since the volume itself was controlled by the DA part inside the DAC, the digital audio switch only pass through the signal, there's no way it could alter the signal and change how the DA chip works.
 

Blumlein 88

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
5,681
Likes
4,660
#8
What you need is like what Tact once provided. A digital pre-amp. It had all the available type of digital inputs in multiples. Did quality digital volume control. Had a remote, and put out a digital signal. No analog in the thing. A digital audio pre-amp.

Meridian way back had a similar thing (only without remote), but it was limited to 48 khz.

I don't know of something quite like that available currently.
 

Purité Audio

Major Contributor
Industry Insider
Barrowmaster
Joined
Feb 29, 2016
Messages
3,065
Likes
906
Location
London
#10
RME Adi ‘pro’has digital out, which you can attenuate, as well as analogue in/out and loads of other stuff.
Keith
 

svart-hvitt

Major Contributor
Joined
Aug 31, 2017
Messages
2,168
Likes
1,006
#11
Is there such a thing as a digital preamp, i.e. something that can switch between different digital sources feeding into one main DAC? I just got a new DAC and want to use it with all my various digital sources.

Like many audiophiles I have lots of options: 2 computers, a CD player, a CCA, plus a DAP. I’d like them to all go through my new DAC, but it has only one SPDIF input, so if I change sources I have to switch them by hand. Plugging them all into one DAC won’t work – most DACs have no more than 2 coax inputs, in addition to the various other types of inputs.

With the rise in $1,000+ DACs it seems the whole idea of an analogue preamp is kind of outdated. Wouldn’t you want to use your expensive DAC for everything? If you only rely on a analogue preamp you’ll need a different DAC for each audio source.

So… is there such a thing as a digital preamp? If not, it sure looks like a good market opportunity.
https://www.lake-people.de/product-page/dat-rs-05
 

Willem

Active Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
254
Likes
161
#12
That DSpeaker Antimode X4 is, of course, a remarkable unit. It combines per amplifr, DAC with multiple inputs, crossover between subs and main speakers, and separate automated dsp room eq for subwoofers and main speakers. The bad news is that it is expensive.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Messages
5
Likes
2
#13
There are some things which would serve your purpose. How much is your budget for this?

You might be better of in terms of effective cost to get a DAC that has multiple inputs on it already. Depends on how much you wish to spend.
Thanks, good questions. And thanks to all for the helpful suggestions!

I'm thinking anything over $150 and I might be better off buying a second DAC. A lot of the suggestions are for DACs - I already have a DAC I like very much (the Sparkler model S504 "unison") so I don't really want to buy a new one.

The suggested Inday DA4X-R SPDIF 4x1 Digital Audio Switcher looks the closest to a pure digital switch that doesn't include a DAC. I'll definitely check that out. Has anyone used this before?

An alternative is to get another DAC with a different sound, such as a Topping or the Khadas Tone Board. I believe they should be a good upgrade to the Chromecast Audio DAC?
 

Kal Rubinson

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Mar 23, 2016
Messages
852
Likes
630
Location
NYC/CT
#14
That DSpeaker Antimode X4 is, of course, a remarkable unit. It combines per amplifr, DAC with multiple inputs, crossover between subs and main speakers, and separate automated dsp room eq for subwoofers and main speakers. The bad news is that it is expensive.
For half that (or so), the Benchmark DAC3 HGC might do the job:
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Messages
5
Likes
2
#15
Did you mean some kind of things like this?
It's called Digital Audio Switch, could be remote controlled, cost about 20 dollars on taobao, supports 4 in 1 out or 4 in 2 out, depend on which brand you buy.
This looks great, except I need coax out. Do you know if they have a coax version?
 
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
80
Likes
86
Location
China
#16
This looks great, except I need coax out. Do you know if they have a coax version?
I believe you could just use a normal analog audio/video switch, and using only the video channel per switch to achieve the same result (Because the video channel has perfect impedance for spdif, and larger bandwidth than audio channel), like this 8 in 1 out monstrosity.:eek:
 
Last edited:

Kal Rubinson

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Mar 23, 2016
Messages
852
Likes
630
Location
NYC/CT
#17
I use this for all my switching:
3x1 switching of analog MCH, S/PDIF, TOSlink and HDMI and all programmable. Zektor MAS7.1!
 

sergeauckland

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
Messages
793
Likes
1,399
Location
Suffolk UK
#18
I believe you could just use a normal analog audio/video switch, and using only the video channel per switch to achieve the same result (Because the video channel has perfect impedance for spdif, and larger bandwidth than audio channel), like this 8 in 1 out monstrosity.:eek:
For S-PDIF or AES-3 coax, an AV switcher is perfect, as analogue video and digital audio both need 75ohm impedance. However, for domestic applications where cable lengths are short, a completely passive audio switcher also works perfectly well, which is what I use. Being passive, the bandwidth is way over just audio, so the eye height of the digital signal is more than adequate. They cost only a few £$ from Amazon or eBay.

S
 

Willem

Active Member
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
254
Likes
161
#19
Kai, yes the Benchmark only costs half (in fact, my own Pioneer U-05 costs even less for similar functionality), but it also does only half of what the Antimode X4 does: it does not do the room eq and it does not do the automatic crossover optimisation between main speakers and subs. Personally I decided I did not need that additonal functionality because my main speakers are dipoles and hence generate fewer room modes, and Subwoofer equalization can be done very succesfully by the cheap Antimode 8033 that I already own.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2019
Messages
5
Likes
2
#20
For S-PDIF or AES-3 coax, an AV switcher is perfect, as analogue video and digital audio both need 75ohm impedance. However, for domestic applications where cable lengths are short, a completely passive audio switcher also works perfectly well, which is what I use. Being passive, the bandwidth is way over just audio, so the eye height of the digital signal is more than adequate. They cost only a few £$ from Amazon or eBay.

S
Can you provide a link to an example? All the switches I found have only toslink inputs. Also, I don't think the passive audio SPDIF inputs will fit my digital coax plugs (I might be wrong on that?).
 
Top Bottom