Value of a preamp?

Other than impedance matching and volume control?


@cey. I agree systems sound better. I understand designers aim for the elusive straight wire w gain; however, exciting colorations must account for many findings :)

I particularly enjoy the dealer (salespersons) comments; kind of like the old Absolute Sound to which I subscribed and enjoyed :) . Now I prefer amirm - just the facts - as best that human can avoid personal bias - which I think "they" do a pretty good job of. ( I'm thinking a language professor might cringe at my grammar :)  I'm reminded now of the Beach Boys hit, Fun,Fun,Fun  :)

My experience over many years of making component comparisons (for a living) is that you can live with more amplifiers than preamps.  That's how important the preamp is.  It's the brain and intelligence of the system.  A preamp can make or break an audio system.  And, having said that, using a great preamp as opposed to bypassing a preamp (with passive volume controls or DAC based volume controls) simply gives better performance. Perhaps it's due to impedance matching or other such electrical conditions, but the preamp is vitally important.  The sound is more liquid and has more vitality with a great preamp.  This reality has born itself out time and time again over the years.  Don't shortchange your system with a poorly performing preamp (or lack of preamp).  I have discovered some great preamps out there and I'm happy to recommend them should anyone be interested.

The ’preamp’ is essentially a cash grabbing strategy by certain manufacturers who went to the umpteenth level to do a ground-up design/fine tune a preamp to a specific power amp. For example, Luxman... they designed a wallet abusing preamp (c900u) for their m900u power amp and the latter sounds the best only with that specific preamp (A few other manufacturers fall in that same category locking you into a stack).

If you didn’t get stuck with such a cash grab manufacturer strategy, feel free to mix/match whatever, find a integrated amp or a dac with a decent sounding preamp mode, i.e., don’t overthink the preamp. It isn’t the greatest thing that happened to hifi since sliced bread.