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Old 03-31-2008   #1
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Red Deer, Alberta Canada
Posts: 13
Default Receiver/Preamp/Amp

Can someone give me a quick rundown on the difference here? I have an entry level Harman Kardon receiver right now. I live in a town house at the moment so I cant have anything too loud, but Im playing around with the idea of buying a house just outside of town so I wont have to worry about how loud my system gets.

When going from the all in on receivers to a preamp/amp, ect, is there a huge difference in sound quality, or am I just getting more power and loud bass?

When all is said and done I just want a really great audio/visual experience for movies and video games. I've never been a huge bass fan, I like it, but dont want it to the point where Im always trying to one up and get the loudest, deepest bass out of me and my friends if that makes any sence.
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Old 03-31-2008   #2
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Default Re: Receiver/Preamp/Amp

Quick, tough....

A receiver is basically a pre/pro, amplifiers and a tuner in one box. This give you the advantage of simplicity, and in the ever changing world of HT we are currently in also gives the most up to date units as separates take longer to develop and come to market (don't ask why).

Going to separates (pre/processor, amplifiers and a tuner) allows each component several advantages.

They each get their own power supplies (one of the most important and frequently overlooked areas in HT)

They each are more isolated from each other.

They each can be changed independently of the other parts.

As for more bass, it depends. Certainly with separates you can get more power, which generally will give more, and more importantly, more accurate bass (with the same speakers assuming you did increase power or went to a much better amp.....), but that is not all you get. You also get a lot more clarity and detail. This does come at a price. You need extra cables, possible more dedicated outlets (if you haven't got any dedicated lines to your HT, then once you buy the home, GET SOME!!! They are the best bang for the buck you will ever spend on your system!) and more rack space.

As far as you living in a town house and worrying about power, I used to live in a condo and had my front speakers actively powered with three 200 wpc dual mono amps, the center and surrounds each were powered by one of the same amps. Yes, it would crank, but that is not the point. You can get volume easily. Buy efficient speakers and something that powers them and you are there. The increase in power I had and the active crossovers made the system so amazingly clean and clear that all the headaches were worth it.

Now in my current room, this system didn't do well, the room is open on one and a half walls and the added room volume wasn't handled well even with all that power....

FF a few years, and now I am using less power by superior manufacturers and getting much more dynamic, clean and lively sound than from the prior system in a bigger room.

I guess what I am trying to say is it's complicated.

Poor separates could sound worse than the better receivers, but good separates can always sound better than receivers, though the receiver market is really working to break that, they aren't quite there yet.
Ken Taraszka, MD
Associate Editor
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Old 03-31-2008   #3
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: White Plains, New York
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Smile Re: Receiver/Preamp/Amp

I second everything that kenny said here. As far as the bass goes. For home theater, to re-create and have realistic bottom end for explosions and all of that, clean bass is essential, and a subwoofer is recommended. But, your right, it is not just about getting a lot of bass to show off and impress your friends. Unless, your into that!!!!!!!!

Likewise, if your going to use this system to also play music, and say for example you like classical, again, good clean bass is essential. Some classical music, the bass drops below 40Hz, and most stand alone speakers that produce these low frequencies are costly. But, go listen to some systems at your dealer, with your source material that you are familiar with, and go from there.
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Old 03-31-2008   #4
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Red Deer, Alberta Canada
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Default Re: Receiver/Preamp/Amp

Thanks guys. For my use right now my Harman Kardon should be fine. Once I get my new place, Im pretty sure Ill be going more in depth about room size, expected set up, ect.
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