Although AV receivers have in-built amplifiers, these tend to be of low quality. So to improve the audio signal and sound quality of your home theater, you have to use a great preamp along with the receiver or surround sound processor.
Also read: Receiver vs. Amplifier vs. Preamp – Key Differences
How To Connect a Preamp to an AV Receiver
Here’s how you can connect a preamp to an AV receiver in 9 simple steps:
- Power off all setup devices.
- Plug your sound source devices into the AV Receiver.
- Plug the Preamp into your AV Receiver.
- Plug the AV Receiver into the Power Amplifier
- Plug your speakers into the Preamp.
- Power on the Preamp, AV Receiver, and Power Amp.
- Set the Power Amp Gain and Preamp Volume.
- Calibrate your speakers.
- Play the source device of your choice.
Read on for a detailed explanation of how to set up the preamp to work with your AV receiver for perfect sound performance.
1. Power Off All Setup Devices
Before you hook up your preamp to the AV receiver, ensure that both the electronics are turned off and disconnected from the power outlets. This will prevent you from running into any accidents as you connect the devices.
It can also enable you to connect the two devices comfortably without fear of getting an electrical injury or blowing them.
2. Plug Your Sound Source Devices Into the AV Receiver
The source device could be your CD player or Blu-ray disc player. Hook the output connectors of the source to the input connectors on the AV receiver.
Make sure you plug each electronic into the correct connector on the AV receiver for it to work well. The cable meant to go into the correct input should be plugged there, and the other into the left input.
3. Connect Your Preamp Into Your AV Receiver
Use RCA cables to plug into the pre-outs found at the back of your receiver. It would be best to hook a pair of cables into the receiver’s right and left outputs before plugging the other end of the RCA cable into your preamp’s line-in inputs.
These pre-outs increase the number of channels that your receiver has and, in turn, create more options for you to use extra speakers.
In addition, it can enable you to connect several input sources like the DVD player, CD player, or Blu-ray. The ability to do this can allow you to switch between using these electronics from a centralized area easily.
Also, connecting a preamp to a receiver can provide a richer audio quality with lifelike sound effects like those found in cinemas. This means that you can turn your room into a makeshift cinema hall or a club at will.
Opt for balanced connections that carry the audio signal through three conductors to enjoy top performance. One conductor will be used for grounding while the other two transmit negative and positive signals.
A balanced connection allows you to enjoy great sound from your home theater without much noise from the cables and the environment.
Remember to select the appropriate preamplifier within your budget that can connect with all the electronics you want to play on it.
To learn more about how to connect a preamplifier to an AV receiver, check out this video from Techno Daddy:
4. Plug the AV Receiver Into the Power Amplifier
Hook the center, right, and left output connectors from your receiver to the corresponding input connectors on the power amplifier using RCA cables.
Linking the two together can increase the power load of the receiver and enable it to enhance the sound in addition to supplying an active music range.
5. Plug Your Speakers Into the Preamp
Get the speaker wire and connect its left and right inputs from the speakers to the appropriate output terminals on the preamplifier. The center speaker should be plugged into the center terminal, the right one to the right output and the left speaker to the left terminal. Make sure the inputs you attach to are linked to the speaker you want to hook up.
Also, ensure to get the polarity of the connections right as the red cable should be plugged into the red output and the black cable into the black one. Reversing the cables can create poor sound quality.
6. Power on the Preamp, AV Receiver and Power Amp
Always check the AC power outlet to guarantee that it has the correct voltage for your preamp before using it. You can find the right voltage that your device should be operated at its rear end.
Connecting the preamp with the wrong AC voltage may cause the device to catch fire and end up harming yourself and others if the fire spreads. To further protect your equipment from damage and yourself from injuries, use properly grounded components to connect your sound system.
Besides that, you could opt to use a trigger wire to quicken the process of connecting all three devices so that they can power on at the same time. But if you would rather not and prefer turning on the devices one at a time, start with the AV receiver first before powering on the preamp and the amp because it doesn’t need any fine-tuning.
7. Set the Power Amp Gain and Preamp Volume
Tune the amp’s gain to full and the preamplifier’s volume at about 2 o’clock to achieve full volume. Doing this will ensure that your preamp runs in an ideal range, which will give you the perfect sound.
However, if you want to listen at a lower volume, set the amplifier gain at a near minimum and the preamp volume still at 2 O’clock. Then, increase the gain until you reach the loudest level you enjoy listening to music.
Keep in mind that your power amp should always be tuned high enough, like at 2 O’clock or above. Otherwise, it won’t be able to send a high enough sound signal from the preamp and end up causing distortion. The voltage gain needs to be 2 volts and above to avoid performance problems.
8. Calibrate Your Speakers
You will have to use the automatic speaker setup on your receiver and a calibration microphone to ensure that your home theater works as intended with fewer audio problems.
For this to happen, you have to ensure that the sound levels of the speakers and the subwoofer are tuned right and that the audio will sound fine from wherever you will be sitting as you listen.
You can also use it to determine whether all the speakers are hooked up correctly and equalize the frequency levels of your speakers.
So here are the steps you should follow to fine-tune your speakers:
- Put a tripod or mic stand in the center of the room and place the microphone on it while facing up.
- Adjust the stand’s height to the level of a seated listener’s ears.
- Plug the microphone into the MIC jack of the surround sound processor.
- Turn on the automatic speaker setup on your receiver.
- Measure the sound of the speakers while in the center of the room and if it’s unsuitable, modify the volume levels. Move the mic to different areas around the room, like about 2 feet to the right and the same feet to the left. This position will get the best sound for the entire room.
- Unplug the mic from the receiver when you have finished and verify your measurements before turning off the calibration system.
Endeavor to leave the volume settings of your speakers as calibrated to avoid messing up the sound. But if you can’t prevent altering the volume levels to get more bass or a high pitch, you will have to re-calibrate your speakers to get the best sound in your listening room.
9. Play the Source Device of Your Choice
Now you can play whichever electronics you want and enjoy watching a movie or listening to music with fantastic sound quality. For instance, if you wish to listen to a specific genre of music, you can choose your Blu-ray disc player on your remote and run it.
Supplies Needed to Connect a Preamp to an AV Receiver
Hooking up a preamplifier to your AV receiver can offer you a personalized experience of using your home theater system. It allows you to configure your speakers to play different music in multiple rooms.
To recap the steps above, here are all of the things you’ll need to connect your preamp to the AV receiver and calibrate the speakers.
- Power amplifier
- Audio and video equipment
- RCA cables
- Speaker wire
- Trigger wire
- Tripod or mic stand
Make sure to double-check all of your connections throughout to ensure the final sound quality is optimal.
When you decide to buy a preamp for connecting to your AC receiver, ensure it’s compatible and has all the necessary features like the pre-outs. Much as you can hook up these devices without pre-outs, it’s much easier to do so with them.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.