My note yesterday about being open to trying out a preamp between the DAC and power amp brought a lot of attention and many great suggestions. One of the repeated suggestions is to simply stick a buffer stage at the output of the DAC and play the system with and without the buffer. While this makes sense and is something we may wind up doing at some point, it is premature. Here's why.
I don't have the big picture in place yet and I don't know what to expect - guessing ahead of time what I might find and speculating on experiments to fix or show it would only add to the confusion.
No, what needs to be done is for me to go out and purchase a state-of-the-art preamplifier that is highly respected, throw it into the system and simply see - take my time and evaluate it. This works on several levels because at the end of the day, I need a preamp in the reference system anyway - there are many times I am playing with products and new designs that do not have volume controls and do not go through a DAC - so this preamp will be a much needed permanent addition to Music Room One under any circumstance.
Far too many people like what this does in their systems and my job isn't to disprove what they hear, but rather to be open to it working and see what happens. If it works, then the task is to find out why and there we can dream up any number of if/then statements to test and prove - and from this process we'll learn a great deal, of that I am sure.
To reinforce what I am proposing I have already found the preamp I want, have heard it in a system I respect and it sounded spectacular.
Actually, I have been looking for a reasonable excuse to acquire this piece of gear anyway. Just don't tell Keenan, our controller.