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JD1

The job of a pre amp

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Hi, have a question about the role of a pre amp. I have an amp running my speakers with no pre amp between it and my opponent. Does the pre amp contribute to the quality of the music and shape the base and highs or is it there mainly to control volume and direct the flow from the different devices that feed into it. Will it improve the sound of the sound from the power amp. I always had the feeling it was also meant to do some thing to the signal before it was amplified. Any help would be appreciated.

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Sorry  its not my opponent, but my oppo. Dam spell checker

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You are running the oppo directly into a power amplifier?

 

This means the Oppo is acting as the preamplifier in a sense but is simply an attenuator with its internal volume control, it simply drops the output signal. I found with mine this had a background noise, occasional scary pops and all-round just not great sound.

 

A preamplifier typically gives the signal additional gain prior to reducing the signal level, and generally will improve sound quality between these components (assuming quality is equal to the rest of the gear). Also of course gives extra inputs etc. 

 

If however your "amp" has volume control on it, it will likely have some sort of preamplifier stage internally along with the actual "amplifier" so is both items in one box.

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Tricky question and just warning you you'll get far extremes of opinion. In my experience preamps colour the sound in a way that somehow sounds more natural in every way. The straight wire proponents would tell you that it is artificial and damaging the signal and any change it makes to the sound is wrong. That's not been my experience at all. A good preamp adds body and volume and microdynamic intensity to the sound and solidifies what otherwise sounds thin without it. If it's due to colouring the sound, then so be it, since it sounds better. Source components rarely if ever have as good output stages as a real preamp so a real preamp "drives" a power amp better.

Edited by Ittaku

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The oppo is acting as the pre amp and can control the volume. I was of the opinion that the it would add to the signal and improve the sound if it was a good pre amp. I do not have a lot of knowledge in this area so was not confident that this was the case. Pre amps seem so expensive as a separate purchase that they must surely have an important role to play. I am in the throes of deciding wether to purchase a pre amp or not and if the expense is warranted. Thanks for the relies.

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Food for thought, but bear in mind he's trying to sell his preamp too ;)

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41 minutes ago, JD1 said:

Does the pre amp contribute to the quality of the music

Only in the event that the source and amplifier directly connected, are not well matched to each other.

 

Some power amplifiers are hard to drive .... some sources have poor quality signal amplifying stages ..... sometimes the electrical impedances of the source+amp are poorly matched ..... and sometimes there is too much (or rarely, not enough) gain in the source+amp.

 

Obviously preamps can offer other features like input switching, balance, tone, phono, effects loops, etc.

 

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I've experimented with many Sources direct to Power Amp and every time I put in a good quality Pre-Amp, the "Magic" returns.

 

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This has always been a cunandrum for me!

Giving that the preamp is well matched to the source and the the power amp,

who is to say the preamp is not coloring the sound in some way? 

Without extracting the recorded sound through some electronic device, it can not be known what it might sound like.

A pre amplifier to me is like an amplifier in the sense that the information extracted has to travel through various components and like an amplifier they alter the sound in way that suits our taste.

How far it diviates from the recording is anyone's guess.

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The main function of a preamp is to control volume and switch inputs, some just do it better than others, but an oppo straight into an amp is probably a decent cheap option :)

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