So, what is a home theater pre-amplifier?
Simply put, a preamplifier is an amplifier than comes before another amplifier. There are different types of preamplifiers however just to keep it simple, let’s just focus on the preamplifier used in a home theater application.
The preamplifier used in a home theater system switches between different line level sources and uses volume control. The power amplifier that would be used in conjunction with the preamp would provide the current to power the speakers.
In a home theater setup, the preamp is typically “active” rather than “passive”. Here’s what that means.
A passive preamplifier does not boost the signal – it just rearranges or dissipates it. An active preamplifier on the other hand has a power supply to provide the energy to boost the signal to the connected power amplifier.
The difference between a receiver and a preamplifier
This is where it gets fun.
Certain receivers can be used as a preamplifier because they already have a preamp and amplifier built-in. If you opened up a home theater receiver, you would find the following internal components: preamp, power amp, tuner, and processor.
Basically a preamplifier does signal processing and most receivers do the signal processing and amplification. It’s just that in most cases it’s purer and cleaner to separate the functions.
Sometimes if the receiver is good enough, you can use it as a pre-amp to connect to larger and more powerful amplifiers. That way you can get advanced signal processing from the receiver and cleaner amplification from the amps.
A preamp is the first step towards moving your home theater setup to the next level.
If you would like to read about home theater amplifiers, read here but next, now you know what a pre-amp is,