most people call an amplifier, is actually called an integrated
amplifier. Integrated means that all of its amplifying functions
are contained in one box.
these amplifying functions include:-
RIAA amplifier, also known as a Phono Stage, specifically for use
with a turntable.
Control amplifier, providing Volume, Balance, Source selection etc.
Equalisation amplifier, also known as Tone Control.
Power amplifier which drives the speakers.
Integrated Amplifier combines all of the low level and high power
elements and of course, it's got two of everything because it's
also possible for each of these functions to exist in its own box
and this commonly occurs in high-end systems.
most common 'split' is to put the sensitive, low power bits into
one box, the Pre Amplifier, (sometimes called the Control Amplifier)
and all the heavy, high power bits into another, the Power Amplifier,
which handles all the Watts.
most minimal Pre Amplifier (or Preamp) provides three fundamental
and critical functions:-
Input Selection, Volume Control and Line Drive which provides the
output. Although each of these functions is very simple, the whole
system's performance depends upon them being done properly.
days, many preamps do not have the RIAA (phono stage) included for
Some people are so serious about vinyl they want a special phono
stage in a separate box.
Some people don't care about vinyl at all.
course, there are also preamps that have the phono stage built in
so there's at least three ways to go there. Classic preamps (from
the Golden Years) will usually be fully featured with all the bells
'n whistles such as tone controls, filters, tape dubbing etc. while
the more contemporary, minimalist types just provide the critical
is RIAA? It stands for Recording Industry Association of America
and it's a standard that enables LPs to be 'Long Playing'. Before
this standard was established, the maximum playing time was about
three minutes per side, a factor which completely changed the shape
of the popular music industry by forcing all artists to get their
songs done within in that time constraint.
advent of 'Microgroove' records meant that Long Playing records,
LP's became possible. Making the grooves smaller, and more tightly
packed, could only be achieved by 'precompensation' which, in the
simplest terms, turns the bass way down because bass requires much
bigger grooves than treble does.
specifies the equal and opposite curve of this precompensation to
equalise the bass and treble on playback. The phono stage applies
this curve to the signal from your turntable in addition to amplifying
its tiny signal about 1000 times to bring it up to the same level
as the other 'line level' sources like CD, Tuner etc. The quality
of this stage determines the quality of sound from vinyl just as
much as does the quality of the entire turntable /arm / cartridge
assembly which explains why many of the more serious vinyl enthusiasts
prefer to use a separate, special quality component.
in conclusion, a preamp accepts signals from line sources such as
CD, Tuner, Tape and sometimes low-level sources such as Turntable
and Microphone if applicable. It provides a control panel for all
of those sources and sends them to a Power Amplifier whose job is
to provide the energy required to drive speakers. Some integrated
amplifiers also provide a pre/power split facility with either a
switch or some links on the back that enable users to access the
preamp and power amp functions separately.