The Peachtree Audio preDAC is a preamplifier + DAC based on the incredible nova500 integrated amplifier. The preDAC is, in essence, a nova500 with the amplifier section removed - but with key upgrades. Like the nova500, the preDAC is a differential (aka balanced) audio design that provides exceptional immunity from noise/interference and keeps the audio signal as far above the noise floor as possible. The preDAC features a dedicated power supply, superior signal-to-noise ratio, balanced XLR outputs (in addition to single-ended RCA) and even better headphone amp performance.
The preDAC provides the same input flexibility as our nova integrateds:
- USB-B for a computer
- USB-A for an iOS device
- coaxial digital
- 2 optical digital
- 2 configurable analog inputs including MM phono
- Home Theater Bypass
- LOOP feature to insert equalization, room correction, or other signal processing into the signal chain
We can’t think of a better partner for the preDAC than the Peachtree GaN400 - but perhaps you have a class-A or tube power amplifier that you love, but want a contemporary front-end to pair with it. We have the solution! Insert the preDAC into the system and add all the input capability and sound quality that the balanced preamplifier section and world-class ESS PRO DAC provide. Want to bi-amplify your state-of-the-art loudspeakers? Send the preDAC's output to two GaN400s and experience the enveloping sound and effortless power your speakers are capable of - all at a modest investment by esoteric audio standards!
The preDAC is a simple, yet flexible, component that integrates a wide range of audio input sources including: a personal computer, an Apple iOS device, a Bluesound NODE 2i streamer, a turntable along with other analog and digital audio devices you may already have or plan to acquire. The preDAC is designed to pair up with the incredible Peachtree Audio amp500 or other dedicated power amplifier of your choosing to complement your speakers. The preDAC is built around a reference quality 8-channel ESS 9000 Series Sabre Pro DAC chip running in stereo mode to provide signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range befitting a reference quality product. It is simply one of the best DACs we have ever heard in addition to providing some of the best audio measurements we have ever seen! And just as importantly, the preDAC features fully balanced internal circuitry throughout to minimize noise and interference and allow the remarkable resolution of the DAC to be fully preserved all the way through the output. The sheer musicality of the preDAC and the lack of background noise is simply the best we have ever made and compares favorably to products costing many times more!
The DAC and Its Surroundings
The preDAC utilizes a DAC chip that was designed to convert 8 channels of audio, but we use it in a special stereo mode where 4 of the DACs are assigned to the left channel and the other 4 DACs are assigned to the right channel. By quadrupling the DACs used for each channel the overall performance of the audio signal achieves remarkable heights in measured performance and, more importantly, in listening tests. The DAC is also capable of converting all of the major file formats currently available including: PCM digital audio signals up to 32-bit/384kHz, DSD audio signals up to 5.6MHz (aka double DSD), compressed audio, uncompressed audio, high-resolution audio and ultra-high resolution audio. Built around the DAC chip is an extensive, multi-point, regulated power supply that keeps it operating optimally and faithfully to the input signal, providing a transparent window into the source material. The combination of DAC and balanced circuitry allows the music to come through with an unprecedented level of clarity and freedom from noise.
Features and Flexibility
The preDAC has very flexible input and output configuration capabilities. It accepts input from a computer, iOS devices, other digital audio devices, analog audio devices and even has a built-in Moving Magnet (MM) phono preamplifier for directly connecting a turntable. The two analog inputs are user-configurable as: 2 standard line-level analog inputs, a Home Theater Bypass (HTB) input + an analog input, an analog input + a phono input, or a HTB input + a phono input. Your system, your choice! The digital inputs include a user selectable feature called volume control bypass that allows system volume to be controlled directly from the source device â€“ bypassing the volume control inside the preDAC. This is especially useful if you enjoy using an application on your computer or mobile device to select your music AND to control the volume. A fully balanced output is provided to drive the amp500 or power amplifier of your choosing. There is also an unbalanced PRE output which can be used to drive a powered subwoofer. There is a clever LOOP feature that allows an external room EQ, audio processor, tube buffer or recorder to be easily integrated with the preDAC and switched in and out of the signal path by simply pressing the LOOP button on the front panel or remote control!
The headphone amplifier in the preDAC is a fully-discrete power amplifier circuit (not a chip) that is designed for accuracy, transparency and ultra-low noise. When compared to dedicated headphone amplifiers, the preDAC’s built-in headphone amplifier represents an amazing value! Important Note: the headphone amplifier in the preDAC was designed for headphones with a 32 ohm impedance rating and higher. Using headphones with an impedance below 20 ohms may cause damage to the headphone amplifier and should be avoided.
Form Follows Function
All Peachtree Audio products share a form follows function design philosophy with an emphasis on ease of use and sound quality. The entire user interface is built around the idea of pressing a button to determine what you are listening to and turning a knob to determine how loud you are listening to it. That's it! No screens, menus or other overly complex interfaces that often add more frustration than utility. Inside, the preDAC is designed to provide the purest signal path between the input and the output. Analog inputs remain in the analog domain all the way through to ensure that the original source material is preserved throughout. All of the digital inputs are converted internally utilizing an ultra-premium quality 8-channel DAC so that they benefit from the best conversion available today! All of the circuits are completely balanced and free from noise. The difficult to achieve combination of sheer musicality with an ultra-quiet background allows for a much stronger bond between the listener and the recording. It is as though the gear has disappeared and all that is left is the music - and you.
Charles Umberger partners the preDAC with the amp500:
"Paired with the amp500 one could argue that it's a nova500 broken out into separate cabinets. In fact, it’s much more. "