Amp vs Preamp which is more important?

I am considering changing my amp/preamp combination and as I think about budget, I am wondering if one of these components should get more focus. My other question is if these components, even separates can never be considered in isolation but are always part of a pair working together.

I thought there must be a thread on this, but I couldn't find it. Feel free to respond with it here and I will shut this thread down.




A truly great preamplifier will not be system dependant. Amplifiers must be considered with the loudspeakers that you will be using. Very efficient speakers may match up well with SET amps, etc. Less efficient speakers will require a more powerful amplifier.  Purchasing decisions must be in context with loudspeaker consideration (s).


Seems the preamp is what needs to be updated in the OPs chain as it’s a weaker link than the amp.

Ah, the old 'chicken-or-the-egg' noted in several of the posts above, 'synergy' is the key-word here. The trick is finding what amp best mates with the preamp.....while many solid-state amps can have slightly different colorations, the preamp affects the overall end result more than the amp. Of course, the caveat is that the speaker is the biggest wild card in the deck, so that should be the first component chosen (IMO). I feel that most of the time,'bad' sound is a result of a poor recording, not the equipment's fault. Mass-market budget gear from places like Best Buy and that ilk is the obvious exception. Anyway, one of the most fun parts of our hobby/obsession is swapping components and cables in the never-ending search for the Holy Grail. YMMV.

Hi! I remember my hifi dealer in Paris (Presence Audio Conseil in Ile-St-Louis, splendid location and shop) happy to see me SO CRAZY HAPPY after I bought from them a second-hand Cello Encore Amplifier. It was a replacement for a Moscode 300 hybrid amp to drive - at that time - a pair of Audiostatic 300. I loved the Moscode and the lights and all. But when the small double mono 50W transistor amplifier came home, I rediscovered every LP and CD I put in.

Coming back to my dealer’s place a few weeks later, I asked (just to have an advice, I couldn’t afford it) if there would be the same difference if I changed my YBA3 pre to a Cell Encore pre.

Then, Gerard (it’s the name of that guy I knew for years since the shop started, back in the 70s), Gerard looked at me and said: "There will be much more differences, a huge improvement on the amp."

Since that day in the 90s, I always considered that a pre could be determining your system balance and transparency. Much have been said about this in the previous posts, and I agree with most of them. Even if my Wadia 16 needs no pre, thanks to its integrated digital volume management , I prefer the sound of it through my "small" Jeff Rowland Consonance pre (as you noticed, I’m still looking for an affordable Encore Pre).

So, I’ll probably buy the best pre I can get for the money, and put the same amount in the amp. And choose the pre first. If I could (I did the opposite, naturally). But If money was no question, that’s what I’d do.