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Stereo Preamplifier Reviews

While the industry and enthusiasts alike may be moving towards multi-channel audio and home theater there is still a huge market for quality two channel (stereo) preamplifiers among audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts alike. While today's modern stereo preamplifier may not have all the bells and whistles of their AV processor counterparts they're hardly out of touch, with many possessing features such as iPod connectivity, built-in DACs, Bluetooth capability, subwoofer outs, home theater passthrough and, in some rare occasions, even HDMI video support. Sure they may not decode Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio but if you're looking to get the most out of your extensive LP, CD and even digital music collection, a dedicated stereo preamp is still the best way to go.

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Home Theater Review's Best of 2014 Awards

Home Theater Review's Best of 2014 Awards

By HomeTheaterReview.com

Overall Rating
0 Stars
 

Home Theater Review presents its Best of 2014 Awards. We've surveyed all the products reviewed over the past year and selected the ones we think are the most compelling. Check out our list and see if your 2014 favorites made the grade. Read More

 
Wyred 4 Sound mPRE Stereo Preamp/DAC Reviewed

Wyred 4 Sound mPRE Stereo Preamp/DAC Reviewed

By Steven Stone

Overall Rating
4.5 Stars
 

Back in January, I reviewed Wyred 4 Sound's excellent mAMP. To form a complete system, power amplifiers like the mAMP need to be tethered to a preamp. Enter the companion model, Wyred 4 Sound's mPRE stereo preamp, which not only... Read More

 
Parasound Halo P 5 2.1-Channel Preamplifier

Parasound Halo P 5 2.1-Channel Preamplifier

By Dennis Burger

Overall Rating
4 Stars
 

Dennis Burger finds that the Parasound Halo P 5 looks great, sounds great, even feels great. It hits just the right notes for its price point. So, while there might be some room for improvement, the Parasound is one heck of a contender. Read More

 
Marantz AV8801 AV Processor

Marantz AV8801 AV Processor

By Brian Kahn

Overall Rating
5 Stars
 

Marantz delivers again with a very strong entry into the marketplace. Our Brian Kahn loves it, and can only think of one thing that it is missing . . . Read More

 
Raven Audio Shadow Reference Preamplifier

Raven Audio Shadow Reference Preamplifier

By Terry London

Overall Rating
4.5 Stars
 

In the last year, many of the Internet and printed reports on the major stereo shows consistently mentioned that showrooms using Raven Audio gear powering the systems were superlative in sound. Additionally, Raven Audio equipment has received positive reviews... Read More

 
Home Theater Review's Best of 2013 Awards

Home Theater Review's Best of 2013 Awards

By HomeTheaterReview.com

Overall Rating
0 Stars
 

It's that time of year again. The HomeTheaterReview.com staff has discussed all the products reviewed over the year and decided which ones rated the best. Check out our list of the best of 2013. Read More

 
Krell Phantom III Preamplifier with DAC Module

Krell Phantom III Preamplifier with DAC Module

By Brian Kahn

Overall Rating
4 Stars
 

Krell's Phantom III preamplifier is the company's first foray into DAC-equipped preamplifiers. HomeTheaterReview.com writer Brian Kahn tests the Phantom III out to see how they did. Read More

 
Home Theater Review's Best of 2012 Awards

Home Theater Review's Best of 2012 Awards

By HomeTheaterReview.com

Overall Rating
5 Stars
 

It's that time of year again. The Home Theater Review staff has looked over all of the year's impressive offerings - of which there were many - and narrowed it down to what they believe to be the best of 2012. Read More

 
Classe CP-800 Stereo Preamp Processor Reviewed

Classe CP-800 Stereo Preamp Processor Reviewed

By Andrew Robinson

Overall Rating
5 Stars
 

The tests that Andrew Robinson put the Classe CP-800 stereo preamp processor through were extensive, encompassing stereo and multi-channel playback at a variety of resolutions. Read on to find out how the CP-800 fared. Read More

 
Home Theater Review's 2011 Best Of Awards

Home Theater Review's 2011 Best Of Awards

By HomeTheaterReview.com

Overall Rating
5 Stars
 

For a third time, the editorial staff of Home Theater Review have examined the year's offerings in AV gear and decided what they deem to be the best in every category. Find out who is the best of the best. Read More

 

Stereo Preamplifier Wiki

1.0 What is an Audiophile Stereo Preamp?
2.0 Types of Stereo Preamps


2.1 Solid State Preamps
2.2 Tube Preamps
2.3 Digital Preamps (with DACs)

1.0 What is an Audiophile Stereo Preamp?
A stereo preamp is an audio component that receives and switches audio sources, usually in the analog domain, as the listener sees fit. An audio preamp also boosts the line level signal from a source component like an iPod or CD player to a level that a power amplifier can use to power speakers.

The idea of a separate amp and preamp became popular in the 1970s among audiophiles for performance (and vanity) reasons. The idea that each component would have its own power supply was common wisdom as to why a consumer should upgrade from a receiver. Audiophiles loved the idea of mixing and matching components to create different sonic flavors in their systems.

An integrated amplifier is a component with a stereo preamp and power amp in one chassis. The main difference between an integrated amp and a receiver is the lack of some sort of tuner.

The AV preamp, derived for the home theater and surround sound from the stereo preamp, has most of the features of an AV receiver without power amplification of any kind.

2.0 Types of Stereo Preamps

2.1 Solid State preamps
The solid state stereo preamp is the most common variety, using transistors mainly to boost the signal from line level to a voltage that a power amplifier likes. The solid state stereo preamp was the first to come to market with remote controls.

2.2 Tube Preamps
Another popular variety of stereo preamp is the tube preamp, which can use various levels of vacuum tubes to boost gain in an audio system. Most tube preamps today also come with remote control. A Tube preamp requires replacing the vacuum tubes periodically or the performance will suffer greatly. A solid state preamp is a more "set it and forget it" component, which some consumers like better.

2.3 Digital Preamps (with DACs)
A relatively new category of preamp is the digital preamp, which unlike tube preamps and solid state preamps can accept a digital audio signal from products like an iPod or a CD transport. The internal digital to analog converter converts the digital signal to analog and it is boosted from there for use by the power amp.