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Bigger sound difference: AMP or PREAMP?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
There has been discussion if an amplifier attached to a modest HT receiver is "good enough" compared to buying a straight out integrated amplifier or separates. It makes sense that a great amplifier can improve the sound characteristics before hitting the speakers, but it also makes sense that the preamp does "all the work".

VOTE!
post #2 of 22
Thread Starter 
at the time of this post, its looking like the "truth" might be 50/50
post #3 of 22
The preamp does all the processing. I'd rather have a good preamp and a cheap amp than the other way around.
post #4 of 22
Curious would an old (98ish) 2 channel Denon Receiver do well as pre-amp? I recently noticed that the one I'm borrowing has pre-out's on the back? I'd be driving Energy C-5's and possibly upgrading to Energy RC-30's in the future.
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by rpgonzalez View Post

There has been discussion if an amplifier attached to a modest HT receiver is "good enough" compared to buying a straight out integrated amplifier or separates. It makes sense that a great amplifier can improve the sound characteristics before hitting the speakers, but it also makes sense that the preamp does "all the work".

VOTE!

If you are buying an amplifier of great quality and/or significantly more power, then yes, it can make a difference. However, if you buy a pre/pro with the same stipulations, you will notice a bigger difference. You are correct about the preamp doing "all the work". My biggest sound improvements, other than speakers, have come from new pre/pro's.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by briankmonkey View Post

Curious would an old (98ish) 2 channel Denon Receiver do well as pre-amp? I recently noticed that the one I'm borrowing has pre-out's on the back? I'd be driving Energy C-5's and possibly upgrading to Energy RC-30's in the future.

The Denon would add its color (IMO bright and forward) and if you like the sound you could change the character with an amplifier.

HOWEVER, I dont think you can gain any transparency or soundstage with the Denon as the limiting factor. BUT, you could add tonal weight and smooth out the forwardness with an NAD or Bryston amp or something like that.
post #7 of 22
Pre, IF your amp can handle the load. 90% of the sound you hear will be a result of the room and speakers however.
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by ericgl View Post

Pre, IF your amp can handle the load. 90% of the sound you hear will be a result of the room and speakers however.

Ericgl is very much correct. Speakers will give you the biggest improvement, providing you buy better ones than you have now. As far as the room goes, and any room treatment ericgl might have been hinting at , there is usually a certain family member that has something to say about aesthetics.....
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by rpgonzalez View Post

The Denon would add its color (IMO bright and forward) and if you like the sound you could change the character with an amplifier.

HOWEVER, I dont think you can gain any transparency or soundstage with the Denon as the limiting factor. BUT, you could add tonal weight and smooth out the forwardness with an NAD or Bryston amp or something like that.

Thank you for you input. I've never owned a pre/pro setup just HT Receivers like a 6.1 Yamaha (100x6) and currently "renting" a Sony STRDG-1000 to try out with my PS3 for movies and games. I've always been curious if I'd get a decent jump in SQ if I moved to a dedicated amp to push more power to them. Not worried about SPL but low level SQ.

Room layout is pretty is a pretty basic rectangle room with hardwood floors. The sony told me the front speakers are 9.5 feet away (50" HDTV set direclty in front as well with C-5's on the sides).
post #10 of 22
40/60 pre-amp/amp.

50/50 processor/amp.

Is this suppose to be pre-amps or processors or both?
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by classic77 View Post

40/60 pre-amp/amp.

50/50 processor/amp.

Is this suppose to be pre-amps or processors or both?

hmmm, good point. A processor would have more influence (more circuitry).

The OP was more intended for those considering using an HT receiver as the preamp for upgraded amps and whether the amp makes the biggest difference or the preamp in the receiver. I think all of us are keeping in mind that were NOT talking about using a big $$$ processor with a cheap amplifier or vice versa.

I have never gone the pre/pro/amp separates direction, but wouldn't the differences become more negligible in this $$$ bracket?

Essentially, given the current vote (in favor of preamp making big difference) that using a "regular" receiver with Mark Levinson Monoblocks (for a silly example) is not a good idea.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
ok... last bump. lemme get a couple more votes
post #13 of 22
I abstain.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson View Post

I abstain.

ahhh, you're no fun anymore.
post #15 of 22
it depends on how much your willing to pay for a pre/amp-amp pre/pro-amp combo. I would want my sound to be untainted. The source player needs to do an honest job of reproducing the source material. The pre/ pre/pro w/e needs to do an honest job "getting" the source material in whatever form necessary for the application process to do its thing. To the original poster, why would you want your preamp or amplifier to improve sound characteristics? To improve them over what? How does an amplifier improve sound in any way? How does a pre-amp improve sound in any way? Shouldn't all of these electronics just facilitate the process of hearing whats on the source material and not "color" it? But, some people prefer coloration???
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mannoiaj View Post

Shouldn't all of these electronics just facilitate the process of hearing whats on the source material and not "color" it? But, some people prefer coloration???


yes, yes. The goal for every audiophile is ultimately to experience live music from their own couch. My favorite set up was at an audio dealer: magnepann 20.1 ($13,000), dual ASW subs ($6k), classe mono-blocks ($10k), and some equally esoteric isolated source and pre-amp (sorry cant remember brand right now) that literally sent me chills. It was love at first listen.

Shoot, I dont have $50k to blow on audio. Now what? Can I truly achieve such bliss with a $5k budget? ...nope

so what does the "peon" such as myself do? Buy a Bose and call it quits? Sorry, I cannot. So therefor, poor audiophiles such as myself must painfully and carefully select the parts of the frequency spectrum that are most important to us, and purchase equipment that most matches this preference and attempt to be happy. No $2k speaker can accurately reproduce the spectrum from 10Hz to 40kHz. Thats what the $13k speakers are for! So, no, coloration is not prefered, but empahsis IS. Of course, because of this, we are happy for some time, and then miss other parts of the spectrum. The cycle thus continues. The more money that can be spent, the closer we get. Until then, it is a compromise and avsforum will live until then...
post #17 of 22
The problem with the poll question is, it entirely depends on where you're coming from, what your perspective is. What I mean is, if you're using a mid-level receiver then you add a good amp (and still use the receiver as a pre/pro), you'll notice a difference. I was using an Onkyo TX-SR702 receiver, added a very good budget amp (the Emotiva LPA-1), and noticed a WORLD of difference, huge improvement. Then I yanked the Onkyo and installed the Emotiva LMC-1 pre/pro (cheapest pre/pro I know of, very low on bells & whistles, but considered to have excellent sound quality for its low price so I'd expect it to sound better than the Onkyo) -- but honestly, keeping in mind it took me over an hour to make the switch, I couldn't hear any real difference.

So the answer entirely depends on your system, room, speakers, etc. If you have a world class system except you're using a cheap receiver as a pre/pro, obviously changing to an excellent pre/pro will make a relatively huge difference that you will hear. If you've got a budget system then you add a really nice amp to it, you're likely to hear a bigger difference than if you simply put in a good pre/pro but kept a crappy amp, speakers, etc.

I think the answer for you will depend on your circumstances and the question has no "correct" answer. If your room is acoustically decent, you have good speakers, then you add a good amp where before you were powering everything with your receiver, chances are the amp will have made a huge difference. If you have a world class system in a treated room with outstanding speakers and a very good pre/pro and amp(s), then you start switching out amps and/or pre/pros, who knows, maybe then you'll hear bigger differences between good pre/pros than you do between good amps.

I would have voted for choice D: "It depends."
post #18 of 22
If your receiver works well and is not noisy, then my take would be:

If you are pushing its power limits, the amp will make a much bigger difference.
If you are not pushing its power limits, I think most mid-level receivers have a pre-amp section that is almost indistinguishable from separates, other than those that colour the sound, and so I wouldn't bother. I've own some lower end pre-amps (Carver, NAD) and have heard more expensive ones and I just don't think there's a big difference. So I will likely stay in the mid-level receiver with an additional stereo power amp group. I currently use a pre-amp because it has a phono input and I haven't yet transferred much of my old vinyl to CDs.
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by sb1 View Post

Ericgl is very much correct. Speakers will give you the biggest improvement, providing you buy better ones than you have now. As far as the room goes, and any room treatment ericgl might have been hinting at , there is usually a certain family member that has something to say about aesthetics.....


Not if it looks like artwork But if it's her home you dont have a chance
post #20 of 22
When i look at car stereo cd players, you would think that just by size alone it would be impossible to achieve high quality playback. It's all speakers-amps-crossovers and set up which can make car audio sound absolutley mind blowing experience if you heard a good system. Thats why i think as long as you have pre outs- you should get maximum benifet from your amplifier. Although my car cd player was pre out only-Alpine- i would think receivers and even car players with power and pre-outs are more than capable of passing the amp signal along.
post #21 of 22
If I had 10 decent 100-200 watt amps I bet you could not tell em' apart.If I had 10 different pre/pros they all sound different.
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elmo C View Post

If I had 10 decent 100-200 watt amps I bet you could not tell em' apart.If I had 10 different pre/pros they all sound different.

I could Maybe not. If the speakers in question are 4ohm or below, not many amps are truely stable into low impedances and most amps will show their flaws with these types of speakers. Also if you dont have revealing speakers, it could be impossible to tell the difference between gear.
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