An audiophile will most likely start with an AV receiver when it comes to home theatre setup. The receiver is the glue that holds the surround sound system together. A soundbar will suffice in a pinch and won’t require a receiver, but it won’t match the sound quality of a multi-speaker system.
AV receivers are extremely useful and adaptable. They have various features and functions, including input selection, tuner, volume controls, radio, preamp, and so on. HDMI inputs are also available on an AV receiver, which is useful given that most electronic gadgets support the audio/video interface.
AV receivers wear many hats, one of which is that of a power amplifier. The main question is how good a receiver’s power amplifier can be. You’ll need to learn more about power amplifiers to answer that question.
What Is a Preamp and How Does It Work?
A preamp converts a weak high impedance signal to a noise-tolerant low impedance signal that can be processed further. The preamplifier has a voltage gain to make it less susceptible to interference.
Preamplifiers prepare electrical sound signals for further processing and amplification by a power amplifier, which adds current gain and drives loudspeakers.
Most audio-producing devices include a preamp from your AV receiver to guitar amplifiers to televisions. Suppose you connected an external preamplifier to any of these. In that case, you’d have to adjust the device’s volume considerably down to compensate, and you’re to the increased gain, you may experience some audio distortion.
As a result, if you want to connect an external preamp to one of these devices, you’ll have to bypass the internal preamp first. Preamps, not these other sound-amplifying devices, are intended to be used with power amplifiers.
However, in select situations, employing an external preamp is not just the best but the only option.
What Is the Purpose of a Preamp?
Let’s pretend you’re a music connoisseur. So, let’s assume you want to use your home cinema system as a listening room.
The issue is that a home theatre sound system is intended for movies and television shows, not music. As a result, your AV receiver’s integrated preamp will not be adjusted for music quality.
As a result, some high-end AV receivers include an HT Bypass or Direct In input, which bypasses the AV receiver’s inbuilt preamp and powers the signal directly. A preamp could be useful in this situation in a variety of ways.
Benefits of Using an External Preamp
First, most AV receivers with an HT Bypass or Direct In only have one, so you’ll need a preamp with multi-channel functionality if you want to connect more than one audio source.
Second, you’ll need a preamp if your audio source doesn’t have internal volume control. Because bypassing the AV receiver’s inbuilt preamp also removes the volume conditioning step
- The signal is powered at full volume by the HT Bypass or Direct In.
- You’ll need an extra preamp to connect to your AV receiver in either of these cases. Although this is a simple process, there are several measures you should take to avoid hurting your hearing or blowing out your sound system.
You might also wonder if a preamp can be connected to an integrated amplifier. You can surely do it, but there are a few things to consider.
Connecting a Preamp to a Receiver: Steps By Step Guide
If your AV receiver has an HT Bypass or Direct In input, connecting a preamp to it is simple. However, it would help if you took a few simple precautions when setting up your system to avoid hurting your speakers or your hearing.
1. Shut everything down
It would help if you first switched off all of your audio equipment, including your AV receiver. There’s no need to unplug anything for this. When setting things up, make sure your speakers are turned off.
Do you know how speakers create a popping sound when you plug something in when they’re on? That’s the sound of a surge of voltage forcing your speaker cone out of its intended position. When plugging and unplugging, make sure your equipment is turned off.
2. Connect your audio device(s) to the preamp
Any music-playing device should be connected to an external preamp built for audio rather than TV if you have the capability.
This improves the tone and gain of the music over those meant for home theatre systems. Rather than attempting to shoehorn the song onto a 3. x or above system, this will ensure that you get the original stereo mix of the song.
3. Connect the Preamp to the receiver
Connect the preamp’s Output or Phono Out straight to the AV receiver’s HT Bypass or Direct In with all of your audio equipment connected.
This will very certainly necessitate the use of a pair of RCA cords. To achieve the necessary right-left separation, connect red to red and white to white.
4. Turn On Your Preamp
You bypass all of your AV receiver’s internal volume settings when using the HT Bypass or Direct In. As a result, everything you send through the HT Bypass or Direct In will come out of your speakers at full power.
Before turning up your AV receiver, turn down the volume on your preamp. You risk damaging your speakers or your hearing if you don’t.
5. Turn on the receiver & adjust the preamplifier volume
You’re ready to turn on your receiver now that you’ve turned down the volume on the preamp. Play audio through the preamp, providing the range of sound you’d expect from a typical listening experience.
Slowly adjust your preamp volume while listening to music until you achieve a comfortable hearing level.
6. Adjust the Gain of the Preamp
The gain on the preamp may need to be changed if the sound is scratchy or thin (more answers to preamp questions in our guide). Gain is similar to volume in that it boosts the loudness of the input signal before it is processed by the preamp, whereas volume controls the output signal’s loudness.
To modify the gain, crank the volume down a little, then up a little till it’s back to a comfortable hearing level, then continue until you find a sound you like.
If you apply too much amplification, the sound will get distorted. If you’ve gone this far and still don’t like the sound, play around with the EQ adjustments on the preamp.
You’re ready to go! Last but not least, you may need to change the output volume of your audio sources separately so that they play at the same volume when you switch audio channels. If that’s the case, you’re good to go!
Why Can’t You Connect a Preamp to a Receiver?
Not every AV receiver offers an HT Bypass or Direct In input, as indicated throughout this text. Only high-end AV receivers, for the most part, do this.
If you try to plug a preamp into a standard input, the AV receiver’s preamp will be forced to deal with a higher voltage than it is meant to manage.
If you need to utilize a preamp, but your AV receiver won’t let you bypass it, you don’t have to upgrade to a more expensive receiver. Instead, combine your preamp with the equipment for which it was built, a power amplifier.
When you utilize the HT Bypass or Direct In inputs on your AV receiver, you’re turning it into a power amplifier, so if you’re seeking to upgrade to accommodate a preamp, acquiring a power amp will be more cost-effective option.
If My Receiver Has Phono Input, Do I Need A Preamp?
Phono input on a receiver contains a small amplifier that boosts the extremely low level of your cartridge to standard line level (the same electrical level as a CD Player or other component).
Where Should You Put Your Preamp?
A preamp should be placed early in the signal chain to detect and increase weak signals. I mean close to the input device when I say early in the signal chain. If you’re using a microphone, the best thing to do is plug it straight into the preamp.
The signal can then be routed to various devices, including an audio interface, mixing deck, or amplifier. Because it makes the most sense, place the preamp as close to the input signal as possible.
Similarly, it would be best to be cautious about where you set the preamp with the amplifier when it comes to placement. You would think that combining these two devices into a single unit would make sense, but there’s a reason for that.
The noise generated by the amp can interfere with the quality of the preamp’s signal, preamps and amps should be kept separate. Although the effect is minimal, if you’re working with high-quality audio, it can be a serious concern.