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A preamp with a digital input will also be a processor (pre/pro) which usually means a multichannel AV receiver or separate pre/pro. Of course they will also play in the 2 channel format, and most of the newest ones have pretty good DACS. But if you want just 2 channel music I think you are better off with using the DACs in the CD player, especially if you are budget limited. There are some DACs with volume control that can be used as a preamp but they have very limited inputs and will cost more than a receiver. But if you have a decent CD player you can get a good analog (no digital inputs) 2 channel receiver for about $200 new. You may want to consider a refurb H/K receiver at harmanaudio.com. H/K refurbs are of high quality and get the same warranty as new units. But for just a few bucks more you can get a full fledged AV receiver with the digital inputs you asked for and a lot more flexibility.
 

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I know of 2, no longer in production DACs, that have volume controls. Both have sound quality that will absolutely kill what you would find in any reasonablly priced reciever if grainless sound with a realistic sound stage are your priorities.


The Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0 has been out of production for about 5 years and should be selling cheaply on Audiogon. About a few hundred bucks would be my guess. It was available both with and without a digital volume control so be careful to get specifics on the individual unit.


The Museatex Bidat was Ed Meitners sensational last product before he was pirated away by Sony to develop their SACD system. It sold originally for $2,000 and still goes for about $8-900 when available on Audiogon. The sound quality is the equal of my Theta Gen Va/Lamm preamp combination that costs well over $10k, pretty good company. The Bidat controls the volume by varying the reference voltage to the DAC chip so it doesn't have the usual digital volume control problem of degrading the sound as you turn the volume down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
May be I should give some background and what I'm trying to achieve.


I have a Pioneer Elite 45TX. Sony CD Changer CDP-CX355. I have 2 sets of speakers in the same room, one for Dedicated music and one for home theater. The HT speakers are Paradigm Studio 20 and Studio CC for fronts. The other set of speaker is the Eros DIY speakers which I use for music only.


As of now they both are hooked up to the 45tx. The Eros is set as second zone.


My plan is to have a separate system for music, so I'd like to get a stereo pre/pro and amp for music while leaving the 45tx do the home theater.


I want to keep the budget to around $1000.
 

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The Benchmark DAC-1 ($975 list) has received outstanding reviews from all, and it can be used as a preamp, but no remote control on volume.
 

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klipsch used to have a $169 preamp that was a nice steal

Quote:
At $169.95, this processor is an excellent value. This unit and five Le Amps would create a very cost effective home theater system with astonishing value. This processor will likely improve the CD performance of most inexpensive CD players as well as it uses a very high quality decoder and from what I could hear, the analog sounded pretty good.
I can't find the product online at the moment...
 

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Another inexpensive DAC with analog volume control ( though not remote control ) is the Monarchy Audio 22C & 33C
http://www.monarchyaudio.com


What overall level/budget is your 2-channel system going to be ?

Instead of a DAC with volume control mated to a power amp, you could look for a DAC mated to an integrated amp. In that case, I nominate a used Bel Canto DAC-2 mated to a used Sim Audio I-5 integrated amp.


- Andy
 

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Knowing your budget my advice would be to just sit tight for 6 months or so. I'm thinking that there will be several companies introducing SSP/Amp combinations at close to the $1,200 range that you would be hear better sound with these than spending $1,000 for a seperate pre & stereo only amp.


If you really don't want to wait just scan over the used offerrings on Audiogon. There are LOTS of DACs and integrated amps available for peanuts that have awfully good sound quality if you can live without the latest "features".
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I'm happy with the Pioneer 45TX for surround sound processing and HT duty. I just want to get something better for my stereo 2 channel setup. I dont want all the features and such but just want to be able to use digital input. Since I'm still a newbie, I don't know if it will make a difference to use the digital out from my CD player or would the analog RCA out from my CD player be as good with decent used pre/pro and amp? I'd like to use the remote control for the volume so some of the suggestions above will not do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Andy Lammer
What amp to you intend to use with your Eros ?


- Andy
I don't know yet. I've never owned an amplifier before so I don't know what to get or what to expect.


I'm simply browsing through Audiogon trying to find a 2 or 5 channel amp for under $1000. So far I've seen an Anthem MCA5. The five chanel is nice although not neccessary since I can use the remaining 3 chanels to power the front 3 speakers of the HT setup. The other one I've seen in my budget is the Classe CA 101. I've read great review on the Classe but just a little concern that it only has 100W per channel.
 
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