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sharpi31 9th March 2013 08:34 PM

TC Electronic BMC-2 digital preamp DAC
I just bought a TC Electronic BMC-2, basically to see how good a dac is was and to add a decent digital preamp/attenuator to me arsenal.

My system was: boxee box media streamer > DIY AK4396 dac with passive Tamura output transformers > DIY B1 buffer with stepped attenuator > UCD180HG power amp > Tannoy Little Red Monitors.

Now my setup is: boxee box media streamer > TC Electronic BMC-2 > DIY AK4396 dac with passive Tamura output transformers > UCD180HG power amp > Tannoy Little Red Monitors

I was worried that the DAC noise floor would be a problem (without the B1 between it and the power amp) but this isn't the case - I still need to put my ear against the speakers to hear a hiss.

I'm hearing a significant step up in sound. Better separation, clearer highs, increased warmth and more solid bass. Also better depth and separation at low volumes, where i would expect reduced resolution with a digital preamp. Given all of the concern about digital preamps I am quite surprised.

Why do you think I'm hearing an improvement?

- Dac happier with the power amp load than the preamp? (I can't see how - both are 100kohm)
- B1 was a bottleneck? (I can't see how - even with input and output coupling caps)
- better jitter handling in the BMC-2 than DIY dac? (I can believe that this is the case but wouldn't have expected this to give the degree of improvement I'm hearing)

Puzzled but happy. Just listened to Burial then Cara Dillon and not going anywhere soon :-)

stephensank 9th March 2013 11:50 PM

The dlink boxee is a full computer, atom processor & all, with no room for a decent clock & tons of supply noise, due to a dc-dc converter, which is itself a switchmode power supply, running from yet another crappy SMPS in the wallwart. So, it's no doubt got horribly high jitter, and the "digital preamp" is giving apparently more stable dataflow to the dac unit, the AK dac chips being very jitter sensitive. So, all makes sense to me.

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