Home Theater Review

 

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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Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL2.0 Preamplifier/Headphone Amplifier Reviewed

Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL2.0 Preamplifier/Headphone Amplifier Reviewed

By Terry London

Overall Rating
5 Stars
 

Terry London reviews the MicroZOTL2.0 from Linear Tube Audio. To say he was wowed by this tube-based preamplifier/headphone amplifier combination would be an understatement. Read More

 
Rotel RC-1590 Stereo Preamplifier and RB-1590 Stereo Amplifier Reviewed

Rotel RC-1590 Stereo Preamplifier and RB-1590 Stereo Amplifier Reviewed

By Greg Handy

Overall Rating
5 Stars
 

Greg Handy reviews the new RC-1590 stereo preamp and RB-1590 stereo amplifier from Rotel. See how the dynamic duo performs in this week's featured review. Read More

 
Backert Labs Rhumba 1.1 Stereo Preamplifier Reviewed

Backert Labs Rhumba 1.1 Stereo Preamplifier Reviewed

By Terry London

Overall Rating
4.5 Stars
 

Terry London reviews the Rhumba 1.1 stereo preamp from Backert Lab, which delivers much of the performance of the higher-end Rhythm 1.1 at less than half the cost. Read More

 
Raven Audio Cirrus Tube Stereo Preamplifier Reviewed

Raven Audio Cirrus Tube Stereo Preamplifier Reviewed

By Terry London

Overall Rating
4.5 Stars
 

A couple of months ago, I attended the Chicago Audiophile Society meeting that was held at Toska Audio, located in Mount Prospect, IL. At this gathering, Dave Thomson, the CEO/designer of Texas-based Raven Audio, presented his entire line of tube-based... Read More

 
Home Theater Review's Best of 2015 Awards

Home Theater Review's Best of 2015 Awards

By HomeTheaterReview.com

Overall Rating
0 Stars
 

It's that time of year again--time for the HomeTheaterReview.com staff to pick the products that we feel represent the best of the best from all of our 2015 reviews. We've covered a variety of categories and price points. See if your faves made the list. Read More

 
Audio Space Reference-2S Vacuum Tube Preamplifier

Audio Space Reference-2S Vacuum Tube Preamplifier

By Terry London

Overall Rating
4.5 Stars
 

Terry London reviews the Reference-2S vacuum-tube preamp from Audio Space, which is based on the company's top-of-the-line Reference-2 that's built around a 300B tube. Read More

 
Krell Illusion II Digital Stereo Preamp Reviewed

Krell Illusion II Digital Stereo Preamp Reviewed

By Brent Butterworth

Overall Rating
4 Stars
 

Brent Butterworth sits down with the Illusion II digital stereo preamplifier from Krell, which includes five digital inputs and a 24-bit/192-kilohertz ESS Sabre DAC. It also has four stereo analog inputs, RCA/XLR outs, and a headphone jack. Read More

 
Backert Labs Rhythm 1.1 Stereo Preamplifier Reviewed

Backert Labs Rhythm 1.1 Stereo Preamplifier Reviewed

By Terry London

Overall Rating
4 Stars
 

Terry London explores the Rhythm 1.1 stereo preamplifier from Backert Labs. This tube-based preamp includes a self-biasing circuit and easy-access tube door on the top panel that makes it very easy to experiment with different tubes. Read More

 
Oppo HA-1 DAC/Preamp/Headphone Amplifier Reviewed

Oppo HA-1 DAC/Preamp/Headphone Amplifier Reviewed

By Steven Stone

Overall Rating
4.5 Stars
 

Steven Stone reviews Oppo Digital's HA-1, which combines an excellent headphone amplifier, a stereo preamp, and a digital-to-analog converter into one well-constructed $1,199 package. Read More

 
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

 

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.