Preamp Vs Amp: How To Differentiate Between Them?

If you’re a music enthusiast or a musician, you’ll likely recognize the discussion between a preamp and an amp. Unless you’re a professional in the field, your main interest will likely lie in the end audio quality of your work.

One type is an amplifier that takes the audio, and the other is an amplifier to hear the sound. But what exactly is the difference between these two types of amplifiers? Let’s learn more about having suitable options in this article!

Read also: What Is A DAC?

What Is A Preamp?

preamp vs amp


A preamp is a device that controls the amplitude of the audio. These applications are in turntables or CD players. 

You can easily adjust the volume with just the foot pedal. This preamplifier is of great significance in providing parameters to alter different characteristics of the sound.

To provide parameters to change the characteristics of the sound, they also come in different types:

  • Vacuum tube: Make the sound more warm and lively
  • Solid-state: Amplifies the electrical audio before it goes into other devices
  • Digital: Convert from analog to digital signal converter
  • Transparent: Balances and counteracts noisy frequencies
  • Preamp adds color: Adjusts the frequency response of the incoming signal
  • Preamplifiers for specific devices: Switch between devices or set up an external instrument

What Is An AMP?

preamp vs amp


An amp is an amplifying device that provides power to increase electrical ones. It is available in cases where the input signal has a lower voltage than the output. 

At that time, the device is responsible for providing additional components to the appropriate level to push the output power larger. This device is mainly in controlling audio speakers, making the sound louder.

With this in mind, the amplifier helps the travel farther and more comprehensively in space.

If before, you could only hear the sound from the device in the area of ​​1 room, after using the device, the volume will be louder, out of the range of that 1 room. 

In addition, the amp also has the function of recording, limiting cell phones, or supplying power from photovoltaic panels. Most subwoofers have a built-in one.

Read more: Best DAC Amp Combos

Preamp Vs Amp Comparison


If you are still confused by the above definitions, let’s compare some notable differences to a more comprehensive view.

Sound quality

The preamp is primarily responsible for creating the core sound. 

If there is a problem with this device, the internal shaping and control will affect, resulting in the output sound becoming distorted, different from the original. 

Distortion due to this effect will be most evident in events where loud sounds are required. If you only use it for home entertainment purposes, this is not too much of a concern.

Whether it’s a preamp or an amp, most users care about the sound quality. Amps come in many varieties, and your use choice will also somewhat affect the output sound. 

Some will make the proper warm, and some will make the music sound older. However, you will not see these effects clearly if used in daily activities.


The preamp has the function of enhancing the strength of the audio signal. However, it is still weaker than amps compared to the enhancement level. It is often available in microphones and electric guitars.

It is a tool more suitable for home entertainment systems than professional machines. You also won’t have to worry about combining with certain products or equipment because it can work well even when alone.

Amp has the feature of amplifying the line. This feature helps you hear and feel the sounds in your system louder and more clearly.

Signal chain

The sequence can be as the audio components pass through before being emitted into the sound we hear. 

The effect in this series amplifies the sound. For example, if your input is too small and cannot output an ample space, it will convert and process those audio signals to arrive at a larger audio output.

Amp is after the preamp in the chain. The position will be closer to the speaker so that it will control and affect the input. So when using a device like that, you need to pay attention to the recording space and equipment system.




Signal strength


Analog > Line


Vary depending on the brand

Vary depending on brand and strength

Power consumption




Good signal booster

Boost signal enough to hear through larger sound systems

Line signal amplification

Suitable for musical instruments and home entertainment systems

Can be kept separate or integrated with the main amp


Placed directly in front of the speaker in the signal chain

Placed at the beginning of the signal chain


Preamp vs amp is both used in audio streaming and has some similarities, so many people think they are the same. However, you can already clearly distinguish the difference between them through this article.

If you have any questions, don’t forget to leave them in the comments section below. Finally, don’t forget to share the article with your friends and relatives. Thanks for your interest in the article.

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Solomen is the founder of, and he is happiest when working with technology and able to help others. In his free time, he often listens to Baroque music, swims or runs. Feel free to contact him on social media!

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