A preamplifier. What exactly does it do? Some members of the audio industry consigliere regard a preamp as a ‘straight wire with gain’. They consider it no more than a switch box for your sources and provides you with a volume control to adjust the gain. It should not add, nor subtract anything from the delicate audio signal. To think otherwise would be an abomination. Most of the audio press goes crazy over the latest passive preamp devices. These devices leave me cold due to their lack of soul.
Well, then there are those, like me, who believe a preamp adds character to the sound. I require a preamplifier to contribute to the overall sound. Perhaps add or contribute are fightin’ words, for some folk. Some would feel more comfortable if I said that a good preamp extracts more music from the source material, whether it be vinyl or digital bits. Ok, that’s cool. I can live with either definition. But, the bottom line is, an active preamplifier, is the heart and soul of a good music system. Skimp on the preamp, and the entire system suffers. You can have the finest sources and the finest speakers, but the signal has to pass from the source on through the preamp, then on to the loudspeakers. Musical body, soul, density, texture, weight, resolution, drive, attack, decay, timbre, tone, color… character!… the preamp is king.
I urge you to experience a quality preamplifier in your system. It may be all you need to infuse your hi-fi with what it is craving. Some candidates would be a Shindo Aurieges-L ($3,295), Leben RS-100 ($4,495) or the renowned Shindo Monbrison ($8,995).