A preamp is a key component to experiencing true home theater surround sound and a critical element to recording music, yet few people really understand the function a preamp plays. OSD Audio’s Pre-1 is a unique and, yes, affordable preamplifier that accomplishes the subtle audio tasks that transform an ordinary home theater surround sound system into, ‘wow, I hear every detail,’ from a gun chamber being loaded, to the whooshing blades of a helicopter. A preamp delivers similar benefits to music recording by boosting the low-level output on microphones. Because mics generally have a weak output, adding a preamp will deliver a better recording signal level verses simply plugging the mic into a computer and standard recording gear. Preamps do more than add volume, however. Like the home theater experience, a preamp in recording can finesse the subtle “color” of sound by adding tonal quality. Let’s start with what a preamp is and then we’ll cover the attributes of OSD Audios’ Preamp-1 so you can make the wisest buying choice.
What Is A Preamplifier and What Does It Do?
Simply put, a preamp is a separate processor within the audio command chain that accomplishes detailed audio tasks. A decent home theater will typically have one or more amplifiers and an AV receiver. While an AV receiver has amplifier power, power is not its primary function. An AV receiver “receives” audio and video signals from a variety of sources (TV, DVD DRV, etc.) and routes the signals to the speakers. Power is where the amps kick, which supply the juice needed to move the signal with enough amperage so your surround sound speakers produce the best sound for which they are designed. That should be enough, right? Well, not exactly.
The amp may add power, but it can be a bit of a clod because that’s all it’s doing—add power. (Okay, audiophiles, we know it does more, but let’s keep it simple). Enter the preamp. A preamplifier is a low-level amplifier. What that means is that it takes a line level signal (that’s the strength of an audio signal used to transmit analog sound between audio components such as CD and DVD players, television sets, audio amplifiers, and mixing consoles) and amplifies it enough to drive the power amplifier to its rated output. If an amp is receiving a signal at its rated output, it will perform better and your surround system will pick up detail you never thought possible. The same can be said in sound recording where an audio interface enhances the sonic capabilities of a computer. While an audio interface includes an internal preamp, an external preamp gives you more control over tonal quality.
OSD Audio Preamp-1 Professional Home Stereo/Home Recording Pre-Amplifier
There are many preamp manufacturers that range from bizarrely cheap to bizarrely expensive. We look at our OSD Audio Preamp-1 Professional Home Stereo/Home Recording Pre-Amplifier as the middle ground, or an affordable preamp that adds front-end system control to two or multi-channel audio systems and home recording systems without having to load up on credit card debt. OSD Audio Preamp-1 Professional Home Stereo/Home Recording Pre-Amplifier is not shy on features for the price, and we encourage you do research the specs. Our preamp provides four selectable unbalanced analog RCA inputs, Phono, AUX1, AUX2 and CD/DVD and a ¼” Mic input jack on the front panel with adjustable mic level control. Other front panel variable control knobs feature three tone controls: Bass, Mid and Treble, plus Balance, Master Volume and Loudness Contour Knobs with Min to Max settings. Additional front panel controls include Power Switch, Tape Loop, Mono/Stereo, Low Filter and Mute Buttons. We back this preamp with a 2-year warranty because the Preamp-1 Professional Pre-Amplifier is as solid as it gets.
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