I've been a longtime fan of your reviews. I remember reading your DarTZeel amplifier review (SoundStage!, May 2005) in which you noted it might be a bit overpriced compared to its peers. A very honest opinion and a first for me when reading a review where typically you have to dig through the innuendo to try to figure out how the reviewer really felt.
My question is regarding the Weiss DAC202. I am interested in the DAC202 not only for its D/A conversion but also the ability to use it as a preamplifier. I have always been curious whether DACs with the built-in preamp capability benefited from a top-tier preamplifier, such as the Boulder preamplifier that is part of your reference system. I know the typical answer is that no preamp is the best preamp, but I rarely have seen comparisons where this was carried out with a top-of-the-line preamplifier. Did you get a chance to compare the DAC202 connected directly to your amplifiers versus through the preamplifier? If so, what were your impressions? Thank you.
Although I did not listen extensively to the Weiss DAC202 as a preamp during the formal review, I have had a chance to do so in subsequent months (I bought the DAC202 to use as a reference). I've found the volume control in the Weiss to sound better than any other source-implemented volume control that I've used. In fact, it is basically a wash with my Boulder 1010 preamp that I also use as a reference. They are both utterly transparent, and I'd have a hard time picking one out over the other in a blind test. Ultimately, I need a neutral preamp for reviewing sources with analog outputs, such as DACs, and the Boulder is a fine choice in that regard because it is neutral and extremely transparent. But if I was a digital-only audiophile and not in the review business, I could easily see myself bypassing the expense of owning an analog preamp and going with the Weiss exclusively. . . . Jeff Fritz