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  • ATC SCM40 active - DAC vs dedicated preamp

    Hi!

    I just took the plunge and moved from ATC passive 19s to the active 40s. What an amazing speaker! I am currently running an Auralic Vega G2 direct to the active 40s. So the Auralic is wearing many hats streamer, DAC, and preamp. My question is if there would be any benefit by adding a dedicated preamp. The Vega G2's volume is in the analogue domain I believe. With the pandemic impacting us all, I haven't had the opportunity to demo any preamps so I am hoping to get feedback so I can keep an eye on the classifieds (demo may be a challenge in that case so looking for others experience). Any thoughts and potential preamp recommendations for the active 40s (if there are benefits) are greatly appreciated. Thanks and stay safe everyone! Chad
    Last edited by kingabs; 07-11-2020, 11:00 AM.

  • #2
    Hi Crandell,
    At first congratulations to your speakers!
    From my point of view every unit more in your system is a hurdle the signal has to pass,
    and your Auralic DAC is a fantastic unit, so why will there be a benefit in adding one more?
    If the Auralic has all the inputs you need, from my point of view it makes no sense to add an additional preamp.
    But this are only my "five cent"!

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Crandell,

      It must be exciting for you for the upgrade you have made. Out of interest what extra benefit would you get if you obtained an dedicated preamp?

      Comment


      • #4
        IME using a dedicated Pre Amp (ATC CA2 MK2) with active ATC's is a clear step up from using a DAC/PRE (Benchmark DAC2)

        Benefits include bypassing the DAC's digital volume control which avoids bit stripping.

        Also an ATC pre matches up better as it has a very low output impedance. ( the amps in your SCM40's are 1V sensitive!!!!!)

        Last of all..............it simply sounds much better as your actives are getting driven properly.

        I understand the "less is better" camp and was once in it but............not anymore.

        Anyway just my "five cent" too............like Mariner....🙂.

        Don't forget to use quality I/C's and AC cables as ATC actives can highlight differences easily.
        Last edited by linger63; 07-10-2020, 08:38 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks for the replies everyone.

          Mariner - Thanks the actives are a wonderful upgrade! The Auralic has all the inputs I need at the moment and it is a fantastic DAC so it would be great to keep other cables and components out of the chain so I like your response because it keeps me from spending more money.

          Gandalf - that is the magic question, is there a benefit.

          linger63 - Thanks for providing your experience because the Benchmark units seem to be very highly rated and quite capable as a preamp so knowing you did get a benefit makes the debate more challenging. The one thing I was concerned about was the output of the Auralic. It outputs 4.8V's which would seem hot for the 40s. I did dial that back -6db via the software so that should reduce the voltage to a more manageable load but probably not as good of a match as the ATC pre's. The volume on the Auralic is analogue I believe so I shouldn't have the sound impacts as I have read when in the digital domain when running at lower volume (not that I have a good technical understanding, just from my reading!). The ATC pre's must be a match made in heaven. I wish I could demo some of their units but there is no place close by.

          I appreciate the thoughts everyone!

          Chad

          Comment


          • #6
            Hello, I am Rüdiger from Germany, so sry for my bad English.
            I can‘t find the output impedance of the Aurealic G2. I think it should be as small as possible.
            Here in my musicroom I use an Audionet Pre1G3+EPS Preamp to drive my ATC SMC100ASL and it is a very good Combination. I am using the unbalanced outputs with a Cinch/XLR adapter cable(Sommer Carbokab)because ist sounds better(clearer with more air)than the balanced connection.
            Kind regards Rüdiger

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks Rüdiger! I haven't heard of Audionet, I will need to look it up. Interesting that the unbalanced is working the best for you.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by crandell View Post
                Hi!

                I just took the plunge and moved from ATC passive 19s to the active 40s. What an amazing speaker! I am currently running an Auralic Vega G2 direct to the active 40s. So the Auralic is wearing many hats streamer, DAC, and preamp. My question is if there would be any benefit by adding a dedicated preamp. The Vega G2's volume is in the analogue domain I believe. With the pandemic impacting us all, I haven't had the opportunity to demo any preamps so I am hoping to get feedback so I can keep an eye on the classifieds (demo may be a challenge in that case so looking for others experience). Any thoughts and potential preamp recommendations for the active 40s (if there are benefits) are greatly appreciated. Thanks and stay safe everyone! Chad
                Yes doing the same VegaG2 into active 40's sounds brilliant, I use roon with it and just signed up to Qobuz for Hi res streaming (the subcription was on offer ) It really is good
                and not struggled to find anything on the platform yet plus the suggestions are brill for finding new music etc.
                As the G2 also has an analog input I use a GyroSE turntable too through it, I think it works very well as a preamp no need to add anything I would say 😀

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by linger63 View Post
                  IME using a dedicated Pre Amp (ATC CA2 MK2) with active ATC's is a clear step up from using a DAC/PRE (Benchmark DAC2)

                  Benefits include bypassing the DAC's digital volume control which avoids bit stripping.

                  Also an ATC pre matches up better as it has a very low output impedance. ( the amps in your SCM40's are 1V sensitive!!!!!)

                  Last of all..............it simply sounds much better as your actives are getting driven properly.

                  I understand the "less is better" camp and was once in it but............not anymore.

                  Anyway just my "five cent" too............like Mariner....🙂.

                  Don't forget to use quality I/C's and AC cables as ATC actives can highlight differences easily.
                  I used a Benchmark DAC2 HD something version, prior to the Vega. The Vega is miles better as its an actual pre-amp also not just a DAC with a volume
                  control.
                  I think the ATC + Vega G2 is a stellar match . They work exceptionally well.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Also note Jason Kennedy's review of the ATC100SE who found the ATC preamp CA2 very beneficial

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I have SCM19A's. For several years, I ran straight from dacs -- PS Audio DirectStream and now Lampi TRP, both with volume control -- straight to the speakers, thinking it would be more direct, simpler and cheaper. Just about everyone I asked, except Lampi NA, said that adding a preamp would be better. First with a PrimaLuna Dialogue and now with a Supratek Chardonnay, I've found that good advice. There's more gain, the sound's better and with tube rolling I have an additional element of tonal control, tho more complicated with two tube units -- and more money. I have to say, though, that some people find the direct route better. If you can audition a pre to find out for yourself, it wouldn't be a bad idea.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Dogill View Post
                        Also note Jason Kennedy's review of the ATC100SE who found the ATC preamp CA2 very beneficial
                        Such Special speakers need at least a top SCA2 preamp))

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Check up on what kind of benefits you are expecting from inserting a preamp in your digital system. Be precise. What are you missing now? You need to know what you’re buying SQ wise, otherwise you’ll be prone to subjective bias (like all of us) because “new must be better”. On paper, there shouldn’t be any difference as long as the preamp is transparent and the impedance and voltages match, which they will for almost all modern DACs with volume control. (PS. Modern digital volume controls don’t strip off bits, since they run floating point now.)

                          My advice is to take a step back and find out what exactly it is you’re looking for. And is a preamp the right answer to achieve that. Might acoustics be a better place to invest, for instance?

                          Happy hunting 🙂

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by crandell View Post
                            Thanks Rüdiger! I haven't heard of Audionet, I will need to look it up. Interesting that the unbalanced is working the best for you.
                            I think the reason is the unbalanced design of the Audionet. They need a additionally step to bring the unbalanced signal into a balanced one and perhaps this makes the sound a little bit closer. But the difference is very very small and perhaps it’s only in my mind.😉
                            This ist the Audionet Pre1G3 Preamp
                            http://en.audionet.de/machines/pre-i-g3/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Preamp does color the sound... It really depends on your taste and set up. The best way to do it is to borrow a preamp for audition before making any purchase. I have tried a couple of preamps (from active to passive) and finally settle with a Bricasti. Passive preamp is not a bad choice as well if your source output enough voltage or gain.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I think I fall in the preamp (provided it is a good quality one) is better option especially if it has adjustable gain.
                                I also read the Jason Kennedy review in Hi Fi+ that Dogill mentioned and using the preamp was a major improvement with driving the ATC Scm1OOse.

                                Comment

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