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(PREAMPlifier) Meaning "before the amp," the preamp is the primary control unit in a stereo or home theater system. It switches low-level signals from audio and video sources to the audio amplifiers, which boost the preamp output sufficiently to drive the speakers. The preamp always includes the volume control.

There's Always a Preamp
In extremely high-end systems, the preamp and amplifier are separate components (see audiophile). In all other systems, from the least expensive to very high quality, the preamp and amplifier reside in the same unit, which may also have an FM tuner.

When used with video in a home theater, the combined unit is called an "A/V receiver." For audio only, if it has an FM tuner, it is a "stereo receiver." If there is no tuner, it is called an "integrated amplifier" (see A/V receiver, integrated amplifier and stereo receiver).

Stereo Hi-Fi Preamps
A preamp used for high-fidelity audio supports two audio channels (stereo) and switches between audio inputs such as an FM tuner, CD player and digital media player. The preamp also provides RIAA equalization for phonograph turntables (see phono preamp).

A/V Preamps - The "Pre/Pro"
A preamp used for home theaters supports multiple audio channels and the many surround sound processing technologies used in movies. Also called a "pre/pro" (preamp/processor) because of all the audio processing, the preamp switches between both audio and video sources such as a CD player, cable box and Blu-ray player, sending the audio to the speakers and the video to the TV. See D/A preamp and surround sound.
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References in periodicals archive ?
The unit includes a phono preamp. (Lots of AV receivers do not.) It is a single op amp implementation.
If you are in the market for a phono preamp, the Marchand Electronics LN108 has good sound.
To make comparisons between the Grado and the Parasound phono preamps, the two phono preamp outputs were connected to adjacent inputs on my Bryston preamplifier, to enable switching easily between them.
The Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp takes its designed cues from the famed Jens Phono stage and circuit designer, Jens Waale.
No hyperbole: it's one of the finest sounding surround preamps I've had the pleasure to audition in ages.
Caption: FIGURE 8: Output of preamp and comparator during calibration.
The preamp also processes incoming audio and video signals from the different input sources.
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In most cases, picking a good mic, getting it close the person speaking, and using a good preamp gets you to where you need to be.
The PA5200 write driver uses a conventional dual-power design, and can deliver more than a 15 percent reduction in preamp write power.
They are powered by a 12-volt 12-amp battery that lasts about 10 days, and they record using a microphone, a preamp, an Apple iPod Touch, and a voltage regulator.
The MS2830A has an average noise level of -1 53 dBm (at 1 GHz without preamp) and typical total level accuracy of [+ or -]0.3 dB.