So let’s talk about some of our recommended home theater Pre-amplifiers or processors.
There are quite a few preamps on the market today but based on our research, these are some of the best preamps we can recommend for use in your home theater.
Our Recommended Home Theater Pre-amplifiers or processors
Here is our list of favorite preamps on the market now.
1) Krell 4K Ultra HD Processor
The Krell Foundation 4K UHD adds HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 technology to the award winning Foundation processor.
Designed to be upgradeable, existing Foundation processors can be upgraded to the Foundation 4K UHD platform at the Krell facility. The Foundation 4K UHD updates 4 of the 10 HDMI 1.4a inputs to HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 capability.
New on screen display functionality adds status messages including volume, active source, video resolution and audio format. System setup is accomplished from the front panel or a network tablet/computer.
2) Marantz AV8802 11.2 AV Preamp/Processor with Klipsch SW-311 Subwoofer
As with the outgoing AV8801, the Marantz AV8802 is an 11.2 channel preamp/processor with a full complement of balanced XLR outputs in addition to standard unbalanced RCA jacks.
8 HDMI v2.0 inputs (up one from the AV8801) and 3 outputs are available, supporting two displays in the main zone and a third display in a second zone. Auto-calibration/room correction is handled by Audyssey’s Platinum Suite, which includes MultEQ XT32 along with SubEQ for dealing with multiple subwoofers.
To further ensure the best possible audio quality, 192kHz/32bit are employed on all channels. As you might also imagine, build quality is touted to be top notch, with the folks at Marantz pointing to the heavy copper plated chassis and an oversized power supply with a toroidal transformer and 4×10,000uF capacitors.
3) Yamaha cx-a5100 Preamp
The “fit and finish” of the CX-A5100 is outstanding; it’s definitely built like a tank.
The classy aluminum front panel is what you’d expect at this price point. The enclosure features a sturdy frame with an H-shaped crossmember for rigidity. Attached to the center of the underside of the chassis is Yamaha’s proprietary ART (Anti-Resonance Technology) Wedge, which acts not only as a supportive fifth foot, but is claimed to provide vibration control for the internal circuits.
These circuits include ESS9016 Sabre32 Ultra DACs on all channels, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for wireless music streaming, Yamaha’s new MusicCast multiroom audio support (untested here, but see sidebar on page 41), and HDMI 2.0a (with HDCP 2.2) supporting both 4K and HDR (High Dynamic Range).
4) Integra DRC-R1 AV Preamp
The DRX-R1 is an 11.2 THX® Select2™ Plus certified Network AV receiver. It will natively support 7.2.4. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersive audio layouts without needing additional amplification.
In case you’re wondering about Auro-3D support, while Integra competitors Marantz and Denon offer Auro-3D as a paid add-on, there are no indications that Auro-3D support is coming anytime soon to these Integra models.
The receiver is rated to deliver 140 watts per channel into 8 ohms, but that rating is with only two channels driven.
However, at least Integra is making this rating full bandwidth at a low distortion level unlike their Onkyo counterparts rating at 6 ohms, 1CH driven into near clipping to boast an unrealistic power rating of 200 watts/CH with virtually the same amplifier section.
5) Onkyo PR-RZ5100 11.2 Channel Network Pre-Amplifier
Update your lovingly assembled home cinema and join the object-based sound revolution with a flexible and sophisticated controller capable of delivering a full-scale multidimensional surround-sound experience without caveat or compromise.
DTS:X™ and Dolby Atmos® formats are decoded and sent to your power-amp and floorstanding/in-ceiling speaker layout with utmost fidelity through RCA or XLR pre-outs, unlocking a truly immersive cinema experience. Premium DACs and VLSC™ assures stunning purity for Hi-Res Audio, such as 11.2 MHz DSD, while separate digital/analog circuitry prevents interference on audio signals.
Together with comprehensive wired and wireless multi-room A/V capabilities, app-based streaming via Chromecast built-in*, DTS Play-Fi®*, Wi-Fi®, and AirPlay, and the latest HDMI® connections supporting BT.2020 and HDR (HDR10/Dolby Vision™*) pass-through, this beautifully crafted centerpiece boasts every convenience to smooth the transition to next-generation entertainment.
Cary Audio Processor
Cary Audio’s finest preamplifier has been the recipient of many awards and glowing reviews. It consists of one enclosure housing the preamplifier itself, and a second separate power supply to keep noise out of the musical signal path and provide a more stable electrical foundation.
The SLP-05 features three pairs of RCA inputs plus a tape loop, as well as two pairs of XLR balanced inputs, and includes a Cinema Bypass mode so you can share sources between the music system and a home theater processor without worrying about degrading the signal path or having to readjust volume.
OK so that’s it for Pre-amplifiers, let’s move on and talk about amplifiers.