Best Stereo HD Audio Preamplifiers

Best Stereo HD Audio Preamplifiers for 2015

In our 3rd segment, we take a look at some of the best, yet still affordable preamplifiers which are the control center of a higher end HD digital home stereo system.

If you have not yet read about  component digital audio network music players, please click here.

Parasound Classic 2100 Stereo Preamp

Preamplifiers are really only required if you choose to buy a stand alone amplifier. Integrated receivers like the popular Onkyo A-9050 have an amplifier and preamp bundled together in one component.

Preamplifiers are designed to let you easily switch between music input sources. This allows you to have more than one device connected to an amplifier at a time. 

A preamp will also take the lower powered signal from analog and digital audio devices like CD players,  record players or even computers and boost the voltage before it hits the amplifier in your system.

While some amplifiers are capable of amplifying these lower line level powered signals, many require a preamplifier to amplify the signal first before it reaches the amplifier.

Preamplifiers are easily distinguished most of the time by a large volume and smaller bass/treble tone controls. Generally an amplifier will not have these button or knobs unless it is integrated with a preamplifier and sometimes also a radio receiver.

Many preamps built today will also include a built in Digital Audio Convertor or (DAC). While DACs can also be bought as separate components to add to an existing system. Many new preamps and integrated amplifiers now also come with a high quality DAC already built in. This let's you easily hook an iPod, computer or other digital music source directly to it as it to convert the digital music to an analog source for your speakers to play.

Premp/Amplifier Vs an Integrated Amplifier/Receiver

While this may not always be the case. Separate audio components generally provide a higher quality sound than integrated all in one devices.

It allows for better signal isolation for less chance of interference and distortion if the devices are housed in separate cases. It also offers a little more flexibility when setting up your system.

For instance, some experts feel a high quality preamplifier has more of an impact on the quality of your system than an amplifier. By purchasing your components separately, you can choose a higher quality preamplifier and spend a little less on your amplifier.

It will also allow you to upgrade to a better preamp or amplifier at a later date without needing to buy both devices.

Best HD Digital Music Preamplifiers for 2015:

Emotiva has made quite a name for themselves when it comes to high quality amplifiers at an affordable price. This is the companion Preamp to their XPA-2 stereo amplifier.

  • Three audiophile-quality components in one: USB DAC, digital preamp, and high-current headphone amplifier. 
  • 6 digital inputs (2 coax, 2 Toslink, 1 USB, 1 AES/EBU). Plus full 24/192 support for all inputs, including USB. 
  • Analog Devices AD1955 multi-bit delta-sigma DAC delivers exceptional performance and superior audio quality. 
  • Analog Devices AD1896 asynchronous sample rate converter (ASRC) provides almost total immunity to jitter. 
  • Differential ReferenceTM balanced design with OPA 2134 precision op amps. 

The XDA-2 is an affordable solution for a low cost DAC/Preamp to play your digital music on a home stereo amplifier.

Emotiva XSP-1 | Differential ReferenceTM Preamp

Step up to Audiophile grade with the XSP-1 Preamplifier
If you demand to here the finest details in your music this may be the preamp for you. The XSP-1 is the top of the line and will take your music listening experience to an entirely new level.

It offers many sought after features along with a build quality 2nd to none. Using only the finest high quality, tight tolerance electronic components with short signal paths to minimize distortion. 

Pair this up with an XPA-2 amplifier and it will take your high resolution digital music to an entirely new level.

XSP-1 Preamplifier Specs:

  • Exceptional sound quality via an all-analog, fully balanced, differential signal path with vanishingly low noise and distortion.
  • Tight-tolerance surface mount components and short, precisely matched signal paths deliver a superb, tightly focused acoustic signature.
  • Excellent input and output flexibility: 2 sets of balanced inputs, 4 sets of unbalanced inputs, one set of baand one set of unbalanced main outputs.
  • Audiophile quality, load invariant, high current headphone amplifier with independent level control and memory.
  • Full analog bass management with independent, individually configurable, Linkwitz-Riley 12 dB/octave high-pass and low-pass filters for the mains and subs.

      Emotiva Stand Alone DAC

Note: The XSP-1 does not include a built in DAC. Take a look at the excellent Emotive Stealth DC-1 DAC that would compliment this preamp very nicely. It offers full high-resolution audio at 24/192.

Coming Up Next: In our quest to put together an incredible sounding, yet still affordable HD digital home stereo audio system. Be sure to read: Stereo Cables and Accessories to Complete your Build.