Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

ATC & other makes of Hi-Fi equipment
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Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby markvh1 » Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:30 pm

Hi everyone.
What would be a great preamplifier to work with the SCM50 ASLT's?
Currently use a ATC CDA2. Would a SCA2 make a 'blow your socks off' difference? What preamp models could make a great difference?
Or doesn't it matter what preamp is used in this situation?
I mainly stream music from a NAS through a standalone Chord QBD76 DAC connected with analogue interconnects into the preamp so don't utilise the DAC inbuilt into the CDA2. If I changed the preamp, I could connect all together with balanced xlr cables
Thanks.
HiFi: Preamp ATC CDA2, ATC SCM50 ASLT, Cyrus Stream X Signature, Chord QBD76 DAC, Sonos ZP90. Monitor Audio GSW-12 Subwoofer. iPad 2. WD NAS.
AV: Sony Bravia 40" LCD, Sony S363 BDP, Sony 500GB DVD recorder, Pioneer VSX-920 AV. Monitor Audio Radius HD, 270HD, 225HD 90HD. Monitor Audio GSW-12 Subwoofer. HDR-1000S/500GB

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Re: Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby junk » Tue Nov 25, 2014 3:07 pm

If you like QBD76, why don't you wait for the upgrade called QBD168 (which corresponds to 168k taps) due in January 2015 (expected to be announced at CES). It will have a volume control and a remote so will resolve your pre-amp itch. If you like it, you could sell your QBD76 and CDA2 and the extra that you would need to pay should cost you less than a new SCA2.

p.s. no, I don't work for Chord but have this info from a reliable source ;)

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Re: Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby Musicraft » Wed Nov 26, 2014 7:30 pm

Hi junk

The pre amp in the replacement for the QBD76 had better be damn good and superior to their CPA 5000 pre amplifier because having heard the CPA 5000 (and other Chord Electronics pre amplifiers - Prime and CPA 3000) i found the SCA2 at less then half the price of the CPA 5000 to be a far better match ATC active monitors.

All the best

Rick @ Musicraft
Musicraft is Derby's foremost dealer for the finest specialist Hi-Fi, Home Cinema & Multimedia components/systems. So, if you would like to know more about how our products can enrich your life, then please visit us or contact Rick.

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Re: Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby Muser » Thu Nov 27, 2014 2:48 am

Markvh1:

You've got some useful replies above this one. Maybe they aren't responsive to what you wanted to hear (this may not be either), I don't know. My take on things, for better or worse, is a little different than others here. Maybe this note will help you a bit.

I have heard the CA2 MkI and the SCA2, in different systems and years apart. Lets pretend my recollection is accurate for now. Additionally, the CA2MkI I heard is some years older than your CDA2 and so may not sound like your CDA2, I don't know.

Writing to distinguish their respective "characters" I'd say that the CA2 got the essential plot points and tone of a musical story. But, it's level of resolution didn't open up as many secrets and insights as a more resolving preamp might, for me part of the reason for being an audiophile is to get more out of listening. As a listener, you would need to "listen into a recording" to be as thoroughly engaged; said another way, to get the treasure might require a more active listener. Whereas different recordings, or even different tracks on the same recording might sound substantially different with another preamp through your ATCs, there was a bit more sameness to the recordings with the CA2. The CA2 would be easier to live with in a system with problems because it might not penalize bad recordings as much. This is true of a lot of preamps, not just the CA2. My iteration of the CA2 had an even timbre, even if not being a vibrantly rich one, good frequency response extension and a relatively quiet back ground. It was attractive to me because it didn't do things "wrong" that were hard to overlook. It was very competent at its price point and you needn't worry that it might arbitrarily fail. It is an ATC and so reliable and durable as heck.

The SCA2, however, was way more resolving, detail was easily evident and less of "listening into a recording" (an attitude of how one might listen) than having it come at you. Thus, on bad recordings if there was a problem with the recording it was unmistakable and perhaps on the wrong side of pleasant. However, good recordings could be brilliant and an amazing experience. I felt the SCA2 was a bit "hotter" sounding than the CA2, but at the time I heard it (controversy approaching) I did not experiment with cables, and that might make a big difference. Others here will poo-poo cables for various reasons . . . I'll not argue the point here.

Many audiophiles will argue that a preamp shouldn't have a sound, I'll agree with that. But are there any? Not in my experience. Allow me the conceit that every preamp has a bit of a sound to it. The next useful question might be what do you not have with the CDA that you want? Then, go look for that.

A friend with Anniversary 50s uses a YBA Passion 400. It sounds very good. I'm listening through a YBA alpha 1 preamp now - though they're French products they are not romantic, in my experience. They're somewhere between neutral and natural with recordings tipping the scales one way or the other. Previously I have used E.A.R. preamps (first an 802 for about seven years and then an 864 for about twelve years. EAR preamps sound different with different tubes so how they sound depends . . . in my system the 864 did not sound like the typical tube sound, much more androgynous if you will, albeit a bit "thicker" than a solid state preamp. GamuT preamps are very nice, perhaps striking a balance between the CA2Mk1 and the SCA2. Chord make very nice products, very resolving and clean and a bit less unrelenting than the SCA2, but personally, I'd take the SCA2 over the Chord preamps I've heard, even disregarding the cost differential Rick notes. Circling back to what seems pregnant in your question, the SCA2 might be a great choice, too. For me, wrong headed or otherwise, finding a preamp you love requires a bit of searching and experimentation, rather than reading a data sheet, paying the piper and calling it a day.

Hope this reply added something for you. Good luck whatever your choice.

Larry
ATC SCM20-2A, Onkyo 885(a) preamp processor, YBA 1 Alpha preamp, Amazon Model 2 tt, Moerch DP6 arm and Dynavector XX2MkII cartridge, Oppo 105, Twisted Pear Audio Buffalo 32S DAC (balanced out) Kubala Sosna Expression cabling. Two 15" Acoustic Elegance subwoofers, powered by QSC RMX 2450 amplifier w/ minidsp equalization.

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Re: Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby junk » Thu Nov 27, 2014 8:54 am

Hi Rick,

You could be very right - I don't have an experience with either Chord or ATC pre-amps so cannot comment on that. I'm only judging from my experience with Chord Hugo - it flawlessly drives my active ATC 50s directly. It doesn't have a pre-amp per se - it only has a digital volume control, which is extremely transparent. And it blows my Benchmark DAC2 HGC away. Unfortunately, the Hugo doesn't have a remote so I have it plugged into the Benchmark's analogue input and use the BM as an analogue pre-amp. This combo sounds good but not as good as the Hugo on its own. But the BM has more (convenient) inputs and a remote so I keep it in the system for convenience. Based on that I assume the new Chord QBD should only be an upgrade to the Hugo. The new QBD won't have an analogue pre-amp - it will have a digital volume control as well. I know the general perception is that digital volume controls degrade sound, but from my experience with the Hugo I think Chord implemented it extremely well. But I don't know - one can only try and see if he or she likes it. But since markvh1 already has a QBD76, I assume he likes its sound so probably it's worth to wait and demo the new QBD and see if it's an upgrade to QBD76+CDA2 combo or a potential QBD76+SCA2 combo. Sorry if I come across as an unsolicited advertisement to Chord.... (I do like the little Hugo very much though) :roll:

Regards,
Andy

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Re: Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby markvh1 » Thu Nov 27, 2014 11:51 am

Thanks everybody for your comments.
I really really like the Chord QBD76 DAC, it's superb. Having gone to the Actives, I'm getting a hankering for a preamp that will make the most of them and was wondering if there is any real significant difference between the CDA2 and the SCA2 or any others. Trouble is the other half is now displaying serious objections to the upgrade path. :(
HiFi: Preamp ATC CDA2, ATC SCM50 ASLT, Cyrus Stream X Signature, Chord QBD76 DAC, Sonos ZP90. Monitor Audio GSW-12 Subwoofer. iPad 2. WD NAS.
AV: Sony Bravia 40" LCD, Sony S363 BDP, Sony 500GB DVD recorder, Pioneer VSX-920 AV. Monitor Audio Radius HD, 270HD, 225HD 90HD. Monitor Audio GSW-12 Subwoofer. HDR-1000S/500GB

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Re: Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby MevDinc » Thu Nov 27, 2014 1:53 pm

IMHO, the best preamp is no preamp, if you can use your DAC directly with your active speakers you should get the best results.
I used my Benchmark DAC1 in direct mode, adjusting the volume in Software (JPlay), digital volume was restricted to the range where it did not effect the SQ.

With Zodiac Gold I use its own analog volume which is very good, and bypass the software volume control in Audirvana+2.

Best.
Mev
Audirvana+3.0 - Mac Mini, Lindermann Musicbook 20 DSD, ATC EL 150ASL (with the ATC tweeter!)

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Re: Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby junk » Thu Nov 27, 2014 7:02 pm

MevDinc wrote:IMHO, the best preamp is no preamp


couldn't agree more. a pre-amp cannot add to sound it can only take away (or colour it)

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Re: Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby Musicraft » Mon Dec 01, 2014 8:22 pm

Hi Andy

The QBD76 is already clearly superior to the Hugo and the new QBD should be better then the QBD76.

Anyway, i agree that not having a dedicated pre amp is the ideal solution however fortunately a pre amp such as the SCA2 still shows that theory and practise don't always go hand in hand.

Btw, if you're driving power amps direct from your source component then i'll recommend that before leaving the immediate vicinity of your system or listening room you should consider stopping the source, turn volume level completely down and change to an input where nothing is connected.

All the best

Rick @ Musicraft
Musicraft is Derby's foremost dealer for the finest specialist Hi-Fi, Home Cinema & Multimedia components/systems. So, if you would like to know more about how our products can enrich your life, then please visit us or contact Rick.

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Re: Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby junk » Tue Dec 02, 2014 8:12 pm

Hi Rick,

Thanks for the advise. Just to clarify on it. My setup is:

Auralic Aries
Chord Hugo
Benchmark DAC2 HGC (acting as pre-amp)
ATC SCM 50s

So I should stop the Aries (not turn off?), and change inputs on both the Hugo and BM? or just the BM which is connected to the ATCs?

Thanks

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Re: Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby Lemen » Sat Nov 26, 2016 12:43 am

Rick @ Musicraft
Brad @ Lone Mountain Audio

I know that it's been around for a while but I'm quite interested in the ATC CDA2.
I wonder if either of you may have any insider info about whether it may be due an update - perhaps the addition of a USB input and Bluetooth?
ATC SCM50 ASLT Anniversary (gloss white)

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Re: Preamps CDA2 vs SCA2 with SCM50 ASLT's

Postby darrenyeats » Sat Nov 26, 2016 7:45 pm

As it happens, I recently posted my thoughts on this topic on PFM.
http://www.pinkfishmedia.net/forum/show ... stcount=42

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