Preamp queries

adityasrivastava26

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Hey, I am new to HiFi and currently learning. While other components of the audio system seems easy to comprehend, preamp is something that appears to be a bit shady. I will be thankful if FMs can answer the below questions.
1) What i understand is that the aim of pre amp is to nourish the signal before the amp amplifies it. So the use of pre amp would be tone controls and volume control. Is there any other uses of pre amp?
2) how would a good pre amp effect my system. Will a good preamp give me better volume and tone controls or will it also have some effect on the sound signature, soundstage, imaging?
3) Some poweramps, in my case indiqaudio saptak has only volume control (no tone controls), does this mean that it has a pre amp ? If I add an external pre amp will I have to bypass the internal one ? Do 2 pre amps in the chain have any negative effect on the overall sound?
4) is pre amp the only way to control the volume? Can we control the volume on the source side, If i am outputing digital signal to my dac?
 
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reubensm

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Hey, I am new to HiFi and currently learning. While other components of the audio system seems easy to comprehend, preamp is something that appears to be a bit shady. I will be thankful if FMs can answer the below questions.
1) What i understand is that the aim of pre amp is to nourish the signal before the amp amplifies it. So the use of pre amp would be tone controls and volume control. Is there any other uses of pre amp?
2) how would a good pre amp effect my system. Will a good preamp give me better volume and tone controls or will it also have some effect on the sound signature, soundstage, imaging?
3) Some poweramps, in my case indiqaudio saptak has only volume control (no tone controls), does this mean that it has a pre amp ? If I add an external pre amp will I have to bypass the internal one ? Do 2 pre amps in the chain have any negative effect on the overall sound?
4) is pre amp the only way to control the volume? Can we control the volume on the source side, If i am outputing digital signal to my dac?
Nice question, perhaps one of the most answered and debated. Let me give you my perspective.

Firstly about preamps being shady - probably your opinion has evolved from indulgence in puritan content from the world of audiophilia ;). Well, just joking. There are many concepts around sound reproduction and one of them is to keep the primary signal path as small and 'clean' as possible. But the facts of audio-life is that we are not scientists with test equipment, who get tickled just seeing that perfect curve on an oscilloscope screen. Our goal is to listen to our favorites, and enjoy music that sounds great to our ears.

If you ask me, while the poweramp is the heart of an amplification rig, a preamp is often its soul.

to your queries:

1) What i understand is that the aim of pre amp is to nourish the signal before the amp amplifies it. So the use of pre amp would be tone controls and volume control. Is there any other uses of pre amp?
Answer - yes, there are many but the most obvious ones from a user perspective are as follows:
1. switched input/source selection which accommodates a wide range of component sources
2. varying input impedances and sensitivity/gain standards for various source types
3. provide seamless compatibility with equalization standards like RIAA for phono, NAB for tapes, etc
4. recording and monitor features for tape recording
5. auto or switched filtering, additional features like loudness, presence, pan controls (model dependent)
6. remote controlling for source selection, volume and tone controls (depending on the features available)
7. provide output with specs that are an exact match for input requirements of the power amp


2) how would a good pre amp effect my system. Will a good preamp give me better volume and tone controls or will it also have some effect on the sound signature, soundstage, imaging?
Answer - as with the world of audio, the more gear you have on your rack, the more the variables. A good preamplifier often adds value to the listening experience in the following ways:
1) high quality preamplifiers are built around discrete low-noise circuitry resulting in high quality sound
2) the soundstage can be controlled and customized unlike when using pure power amplification which is highly source-dependent
3) preamps often broadens the acceptability scope of source quality. If you have pure power amplification, you'd need the highest quality recordings to enjoy your music, with better control offered by a preamp, you can compensate for missing quality elements in recordings to a better extent
4) Imaging is not solely dependent on the preamplifier. However the more accurate the sound reproduction by the chain, the better the imaging assuming the speakers are properly positioned.


3) Some poweramps, in my case indiqaudio saptak has only volume control (no tone controls), does this mean that it has a pre amp ? If I add an external pre amp will I have to bypass the internal one ? Do 2 pre amps in the chain have any negative effect on the overall sound?
Answer - Being a long-term NAD user, I am not familiar with indiq audio products. However on checking the specs, i noticed that your amp is not a power amp. It is badged as an integrated amp by the manufacturer. An integrated amp is one which has a preamp and poweramp integrated together in a single box. Without taking a look inside the box or referring to the schematic, it is hard to ascertain to what extent preamplification is provided in this particular model. I would assume Indiqaudio has kept it simple, by perhaps including a source selector, a buffer and a power amplifier inside the box. The spec sheet suggests that all 4 source inputs having the same specs which again relates to no special gain factors or equalization functions built it. One can bypass an internal preamplifier using 3 methods (2 of these are feature and model dependent) - (1) if the amp has a preamp out and power amp in, with a jumper on the back panel. This jumper can be removed providing independent access to the preamp and power amp sections of the integrated amplifier. (2) if the amplifier has switched bypass (not just for the tone controls) and (3) internal modifications done by the user. Your amplifier unfortunately does not offer option-1 and 2. There is no rule saying that one should not connect one preamplifier into another. It depends on the context of use, how you connect one with the other and how you maintain the gain balancing. It is common for many enthusiasts who use multiple sources (for example, 2 turntables, cassette and reel decks, tuner, streamer, cd player/DAC, etc can use one preamp for one set of sources, with its line out (recording out) feeing the main preamo or integrated amp via the Aux input. The remaining inputs on the integrated amp can be used for the second set of sources. Preamps can be specific to the type of source as well - for example, phono preamps sit between the turntable and Aux inputs on the integrated. All preamps need not necessarily have inbuilt tone controls.

4) is pre amp the only way to control the volume? Can we control the volume on the source side, If i am outputing digital signal to my dac?
Answer - The CD player or DAC used as the source should have the volume control feature.
 
Last edited:

adityasrivastava26

New Member
Joined
May 24, 2022
Messages
18
Points
3
Location
Banglore
Nice question, perhaps one of the most answered and debated. Let me give you my perspective.

Firstly about preamps being shady - probably your opinion has evolved from indulgence in puritan content from the world of audiophilia ;). Well, just joking. There are many concepts around sound reproduction and one of them is to keep the primary signal path as small and 'clean' as possible. But the facts of audio-life is that we are not scientists with test equipment, who get tickled just seeing that perfect curve on an oscilloscope screen. Our goal is to listen to our favorites, and enjoy music that sounds great to our ears.

If you ask me, while the poweramp is the heart of an amplification rig, a preamp is often its soul.

to your queries:

1) What i understand is that the aim of pre amp is to nourish the signal before the amp amplifies it. So the use of pre amp would be tone controls and volume control. Is there any other uses of pre amp?
Answer - yes, there are many but the most obvious ones from a user perspective are as follows:
1. switched input/source selection which accommodates a wide range of component sources
2. varying input impedances and sensitivity/gain standards for various source types
3. provide seamless compatibility with equalization standards like RIAA for phono, NAB for tapes, etc
4. recording and monitor features for tape recording
5. auto or switched filtering, additional features like loudness, presence, pan controls (model dependent)
6. remote controlling for source selection, volume and tone controls (depending on the features available)
7. provide output with specs that are an exact match for input requirements of the power amp


2) how would a good pre amp effect my system. Will a good preamp give me better volume and tone controls or will it also have some effect on the sound signature, soundstage, imaging?
Answer - as with the world of audio, the more gear you have on your rack, the more the variables. A good preamplifier often adds value to the listening experience in the following ways:
1) high quality preamplifiers are built around discrete low-noise circuitry resulting in high quality sound
2) the soundstage can be controlled and customized unlike when using pure power amplification which is highly source-dependent
3) preamps often broadens the acceptability scope of source quality. If you have pure power amplification, you'd need the highest quality recordings to enjoy your music, with better control offered by a preamp, you can compensate for missing quality elements in recordings to a better extent
4) Imaging is not solely dependent on the preamplifier. However the more accurate the sound reproduction by the chain, the better the imaging assuming the speakers are properly positioned.


3) Some poweramps, in my case indiqaudio saptak has only volume control (no tone controls), does this mean that it has a pre amp ? If I add an external pre amp will I have to bypass the internal one ? Do 2 pre amps in the chain have any negative effect on the overall sound?
Answer - Being a long-term NAD user, I am not familiar with indiq audio products. However on checking the specs, i noticed that your amp is not a power amp. It is badged as an integrated amp by the manufacturer. An integrated amp is one which has a preamp and poweramp integrated together in a single box. Without taking a look inside the box or referring to the schematic, it is hard to ascertain to what extent preamplification is provided in this particular model. I would assume Indiqaudio has kept it simple, by perhaps including a source selector, a buffer and a power amplifier inside the box. The spec sheet suggests that all 4 source inputs having the same specs which again relates to no special gain factors or equalization functions built it. One can bypass an internal preamplifier using 3 methods (2 of these are feature and model dependent) - (1) if the amp has a preamp out and power amp in, with a jumper on the back panel. This jumper can be removed providing independent access to the preamp and power amp sections of the integrated amplifier. (2) if the amplifier has switched bypass (not just for the tone controls) and (3) internal modifications done by the user. Your amplifier unfortunately does not offer option-1 and 2. There is no rule saying that one should not connect one preamplifier into another. It depends on the context of use, how you connect one with the other and how you maintain the gain balancing. It is common for many enthusiasts who use multiple sources (for example, 2 turntables, cassette and reel decks, tuner, streamer, cd player/DAC, etc can use one preamp for one set of sources, with its line out (recording out) feeing the main preamo or integrated amp via the Aux input. The remaining inputs on the integrated amp can be used for the second set of sources. Preamps can be specific to the type of source as well - for example, phono preamps sit between the turntable and Aux inputs on the integrated. All preamps need not necessarily have inbuilt tone controls.

4) is pre amp the only way to control the volume? Can we control the volume on the source side, If i am outputing digital signal to my dac?
Answer - The CD player or DAC used as the source should have the volume control feature.
Thanks for such a detailed explanation.
 
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