Brian Kahn puts Marantz's flagship AV preamp through the ringer to see how it stacks up with previous models and the current state of the art. Continue Reading
An AV preamplifier is one part of a separates-based home theater system, providing the audio/video switching and processing while a separate amplifier (or amplifiers) powers the speakers. Going the separates route is generally considered to be the higher-performance option, as opposed to using an all-in-one AV receiver, because the manufacturer can focus more on selecting just the right components and design elements for that device’s specific function. Like an AV receiver, today’s AV preamp will decode the highest quality uncompressed audio soundtracks, such as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD, and a growing number also decode 3D audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. On the video side, most AV preamps offer a solid number of HDMI inputs, with the ability to pass through the latest and greatest technologies like Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range. It has been a long-held opinion that the AV preamp emphasizes performance at the expense of features, but many modern AV preamps are loaded with same features you’ll find in the AV receiver category—including automatic setup and room correction systems, network audio streaming, hi-res audio playback, multi-room AV distribution, and smart home control. Below are some educational resources to assist in your search for an AV preamp.