Teach me about the pros/cons of a dedicated Preamp and power amp over an integrated

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by halkaloogie, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. halkaloogie

    halkaloogie That Jerk Subscriber

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    Thinking about using my integrated amp as a preamp and trying a dedicated power amp to see if I can give my speakers a little more power, but having never tried this in a hi-fi system I thought I'd ask the hive their opinions on such things.
     

     

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  2. BMWCCA

    BMWCCA AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Cons: Two chassis take up more room than one
    Might learn to dislike your current pre-amp and be tempted to spend more money!

    Pros: Endless variety of choices.
    Ability to bi-amp or increase power output with simple plug-and-play
    Allows for variety of front-end choices (pre-amp)
    Looks fantastic (more lights!) ;)

    Seriously, I've been listening this way for over 45-years. Haven't owned an integrated amp or receiver since I traded my Kenwood for a McIntosh C-20 (which I still own) back when I was in high-school. Try it and let us know what you think. We might also need to know what speakers you have that need more power and what is your current integrated.

    Edit: Ahh, I see you have a Sansui AU999 (about 50-watts) and some Dahlquists. Which ones?
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  3. onepixel

    onepixel .

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    It's like sex.
     
  4. Oerets

    Oerets AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Do it, let the fun begin of your journey towards audio Nirvana.

    May it be a long and enjoyable one.


    Barney
     
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  5. bberkom

    bberkom AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Another pro of separates are the separate power supplies in separate chassis. They are less complicated and noisy than those that have to supply a preamp, tuner, and amp in one box.
     
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  6. halkaloogie

    halkaloogie That Jerk Subscriber

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    Dahlquist DQ-16 not a lot of info about them, but they seem to really like power and I don't think the Au999 quite give them what they want
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018

     

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  7. manu et deo

    manu et deo I'm loving it! Subscriber

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    Once you go separate you may never want to go back!;)
     
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  8. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    OTOH, I think it comes down to cases. My Levinson integrated amp was an upgrade from various mid-priced separates. In general, I agree that separates are a good way to go, but quality is quality. Would ML separates sound better? Probably not, considering the 585 seems able to already get the best from my affordable speakers. Probably so, with a significant transducer upgrade.
     
  9. halkaloogie

    halkaloogie That Jerk Subscriber

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    So it seems I am right in looking at power amps, anything I should specifically look for, or things I should avoid?
     
  10. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    Many of us think the preamp has a greater SQ effect than the power amp. I've done what you are talking about doing in the past (more than once), and my experience suggests that the SQ will improve for you most if you are truly short on power now. Less effect if your integrated has enough power. I found a larger SQ increase by just replacing an integrated with preamp and amp. Even replacing preamp and using main-in on an integrated (if power output adequate for speakers) gave me better sound than when I just added a stronger power amp. YMMV.

    However, the Levinson No. 585 integrated provides the best sound I've ever owned.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  11. 62vauxhall

    62vauxhall Super Member

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    Once upon a time, more of the public in general gave a stereo system a higher priority then they do now. Some even aspired to a killer sound system (or guitar & amp rig) over a nice ride. In those days, for those so inclined, the rule of thumb was:
    .
    Level 1: receiver.
    Level 2: integrated amp and tuner.
    Level 3: power amp and pre-amp - tuners were often omitted ai this stage if not at Level 2.

    You started with what ever you could afford or however much the bank would loan you and moved up from there.

    It's still the same - nothing has changed and the system chain is as good as it weakest link.

    Department store power/pre rack systems exempted.
     

     

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  12. Mister Pig

    Mister Pig Pigamus Maximus

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    Not every power and pre amp combo is automatically superior to integrated amps. Actually the European audio companies have made it an art form to build quality integrated amps that are not a compromise in terms of sound quality. There are quite a few out there, and I have spent a year listening to one that is certainly a quality piece.

    The Musical Fidelity NuVista M3 uses tubes in the pre amp stage, and a factory rated 275 WPC solid stage output stage. However the one I bought had a factory upgrade and is just north of 300 WPC. These amps can drive below a 2 ohm load, pass a ton of current, and can be paired with difficult load speakers. The architecuture is pure dual mono, and the power supply is choke regulated.

    Integrated amps do not have to be a compromise.

    [​IMG]
    https://www.stereophile.com/integratedamps/201mf/index.html



    Regards
    Mister Pig
     
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  13. halkaloogie

    halkaloogie That Jerk Subscriber

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    I have a very nice Sansui AU999 lightly restored with the preamp and bass mods. It does sound quite nice and I don't have any complaints with that, I just don't think it's pushing my Dahlquists enough to really open them up.
     
  14. Homer4beer

    Homer4beer AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Surely cost is a big drawback for separate pre and power amps, spending more to achieve a similar result?
     
  15. elcoholic

    elcoholic AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    All else being equal an integrated has 3 less cables to worry about or hide while eliminating points of failure and shortening the signal path. An integrated which includes a phono section along with a turntable on a credenza makes for a classic, minimalist, cleaner looking high WAF system.
    In my case going with an integrated made my 1st foray into tubes affordable. No way could I get brand new equivalent quality all tube 40w separates with actual US support for $1200. On the other hand my main system in my sig sporting 3 amps totalling about 1kW appeals to the same part of my brain as do big block V8’s.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
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  16. musichal

    musichal poet emeritus Subscriber

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    Integrated amps can be quite pricey, too. Space and décor can also be salient factors, and are for me.
     
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  17. darkblue94

    darkblue94 It wasn't me. Subscriber

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    Pro : Flexibility
    Con : Can't really think of any except maybe that separates take up two power receptacles instead of one. :)
     
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  18. I did so for the first time in July 2016 and have no plans of ever going back. The preamp/amp combo I obtained sounds infinitely better than the integrated receivers I kept cycling through via Best Buy and Circuit City (R.I.P.). In short, the separates reproduced a more accurate "stage," deeper bass, a more "present" midrange, and provided a more palpable impact during playback across all genres of music - especially rock (better separation of instruments) and classical ("missing" midrange/bass appeared out of seemingly nowhere). I'm hooked on separates and plan to stay that way.
     
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  19. Portkula

    Portkula Active Member

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    For integrateds not equipped with internal monitoring circuit, separate preamp and power amp give a much easier possibility to use a sound processor, managing ALL multiple “sources” used by the listener and connected to the inputs of the amplification block, by means of inserting a processor between the preamp and the power amp.

    In case of an integrated not equipped with internal monitoring circuit, such an operation needs a separate input selector to put between the “sources” of the listener and a LINE level input of his integrated.

    More: in such a case, the direct signal from a magnetic cartridge of a TT can not be sent to such an input selector, only via the internal “phono stage” of a TT or a separate “phono stage” between the TT and the input selector.
     
  20. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I replaced a highly regarded integrated I had (Luxman L-505u) with a separate phono preamp (Fosgate Signature), line-stage (Promitheus TVC), and power amps (at first, my Luxman MB-3045 monoblocks, then the Prima Luna Dialogue Premium). Each separate unit had to beat the corresponding stage of the Luxman integrated, and each did, to my ears. Total cost went from $3700 to $5700. It was nice to have a known-excellent benchmark unit to compare to, and to be able to change one component at a time, rather than taking a gamble on another combination unit.

    I think I done good. ;)
     
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