You have a lot of decisions to make when choosing an amplifier. One of the first and most important of these is to decide if you’re going to go with an integrated amp, or purchase separate a preamplifier and power amplifier. An integrated amp (or receiver) does the job of both a preamplifier (which accepts the source connections and allows for controls), and a power amplifier (which does the heaving lifting of amplifying the signal for your speakers). But when you split these two components up, a lot of really cool things can start happening.
A preamplifier processes the signal from your audio source, turning a low-voltage, high-impedance signal susceptible to signal degradation, into a higher-voltage, low-impedance signal. This process is known as gain (a number you’ll see on preamp specs and controls). The preamp then sends this output to the power amplifier.
A jump in sound quality is the first thing you’ll notice when you’re using a separate preamplifier. There are a couple of reasons for this, which we’ll explain here (don’t worry, we’re only going to get mildly technical, stick with us). See, a drawback of integrated amps is that the two functions they’re simultaneously performing can actually contradict each other, because taking care of the inputs uses delicate and low voltage circuitry, while the actual amplification requires higher voltage and currents. An integrated amp has to pull double duty, and a lot of the circuitry for the preamp has to work around the power amp section. But with independent pre and power amplifiers, the internals of each can be laid out in the best way possible for performing its single task. Signal paths are shorter, and components can be placed where they need to be. It takes out all the compromise of an integrated amp and gives you pure, glorious sound in return.
Preamps also have controls that a power amp doesn’t provide, like volume control and input selection, and most also have controls for balance, tone, and a headphone jack. Some also come with a remote control, so keep an eye out for that if it’s important to you.
Be sure to match your preamplifier and power amplifier carefully. The timbres produced by both preamplifier and power amplifier need to be carefully matched to ensure the optimum sound quality and performance. Give us a call or shoot us an email if you have any questions, and we’ll be happy to help you pick the perfect preamp. And remember that we’ve got you covered with the best prices and free shipping every day.
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