The preamplifier works in many ways like a middle man. It sits as a link between an object sending a signal (such as a microphone or DJ decks) and a power amplifier (such as speakers or a guitar amplifier). From here, it gives a sent signal a bit of a 'boost'. This boost increases the amount of volts sent to the power amplifier, and more volts mean more sound.
You can also use a preamplifier to change the sound in other ways. For example, you can use some preamps to play with things like the treble, bass and gain. And in most cases a preamplifier will have a volume control, because no matter how amazing the sound is, it's unlikely you'd want your speakers turned up to the max all the time.
Pre amplifiers can even change something called 'impedance'. Impedance has to do with how smoothly a signal is sent. A good analogy would be to think of someone swimming in a pool with the wave machine on. If you turn the wave machine off then the person will use less energy getting to the other side.In a similar way, if you get the 'impedance' right, then a signal's passage will be less strenuous.
If a signal has a smooth journey, it'll be a stronger one because of it. This means it'll be able to help the amplifier produce a better sound. And as you might agree, there's little point in having an amplifier with loads of power if the quality of sound just isn't there.
Who needs a pre amplifier?
So what sorts of people need pre amplifiers? DJs, musicians and singers use them, as do people looking to improve their home stereos. Wherever a speaker is used, a preamplifier may come in handy.
And how do you know if you should get one? The first question is how fussed are you about sound quality? Some people don't think it's that big a deal, while others can't bare not having the best sound possible.
Another important thing to consider is practicality. It's worth carefully considering whether squeezing every drop of quality out of a power amplifier is that important. For example, a gigging musician might find a preamplifier more useful than someone who infrequently plays guitar in their bedroom.
Finally, because preamplifiers are used for so many things and by so many people, the range of them on the market can seem confusing and even a little overwhelming. So when you're looking, make sure you're getting the right preamplifier for your purposes. Speak to a shop assistant or read our expert and user reviews to get some feedback from other consumers.