Value of a preamp?

Other than impedance matching and volume control?


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.

@deep_333 "It isn’t the greatest thing that happened to hifi since sliced bread.".


Agree while it’s not the only option, many of us own both options, and simply insert and remove a good preamp in the system, and hear the engaging difference, likely more so [in a purpose-built "separates" designed system].

Then, insert a good streamer or combined DAC-preamp with a well designed volume control, and one can usually hear the difference yet again.

There are manufactures with good integrated amps, built in preamps and DACs, that sound really nice [with no separates], and usually comes at a hefty price.

Seems like some of the all-in-one integrated units are starting to take over more, and sorta looks to the new future path as old receivers were in the day. The more that show up, creates compensation, and price wars with competition is good to have. I’ll be on the lookout myself for the best sounding value all-in-one integrated when it gets here! Not too far off one can suspect :)