The PWD and DirectStream DACs were designed to work either into a preamplifier or directly into a power amplifier. Using our PerfectWave DACs directly into the power amplifier is, for the most part, the best choice for sound quality because it bypasses the preamplifier’s added stage. One less stage to go through always gives you better sound quality. There are circumstances where a preamplifier may be preferred for either sound quality reasons or connecting cable length issues.
A PerfectWave DAC is easily capable of driving a 3 to 4 meter interconnect but longer runs may be better when driven through a preamplifier. This can be determined through listening tests.
If your system has a separate subwoofer as well as a mains amp, you can do one of two things to connect the DAC to the amp and sub.
On the PerfectWave MKI or MKII
The best choice is to feed the main power amplifier with the PWD’s balanced XLR connectors if your power amplifier has balanced inputs. This is best for sound quality as well as noise. This will free up the PWD’s remaining RCA outputs which can then be used to feed the subwoofer.
If your subwoofer and main amplifier only have RCA inputs then we recommend you purchase a high quality RCA Y connector that will split the output signal of the PWD and provide two outputs: one for the main amplifier and the other for the subwoofer. The slight degradation expected from the Y connector is far more preferable to that inflicted on sound quality through a preamplifier.
It is not recommended to use both outputs of DirectStream at the same time. You need to choose one or the other. This is because the outputs of DirectStream are transformer coupled and using both an RCA single ended cable and a balanced interconnect, may cause a significant imbalance for the XLR cable, negating one side of the output and thus removing any benefit to going balanced.
In this case it is best to either use the RCA or XLR style Y connectors to feed both a power amplifier and subwoofer, each device should have the same type of input as the other. The alternative would be to use a subwoofer with a high level input, fed from the power amplifier’s output speaker terminals, such as a REL subwoofer.