Welcome to my first Analog Wednesday! "Stuck in the Middle With You" With apologies to "Stealers Wheel."
Speakers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you
I do not want to leave out the parts of the system that make the sound! In a file-based or digital music system something has to make the air move, and that is the speakers. (OR Headphones). Working upstream from the speakers we need amplification to power the speakers. In a system of separate components, there are usually two devices.
The Pre-amplifier takes signals from a DAC or a CD player or in a particular case a Turntable. Many times the preamplifier has an input selection switch system to pick the source input. Most preamplifiers have the volume control for the system. The inputs and outputs of the preamplifier are at what we call line level. Line level cannot drive speakers! So the pre-amp is an input switcher and volume control!
The next device in line is the power amplifier. This is where line-level or low voltage signals are transformed to drive speakers.
Where this gets interesting is in devices like the Mytek Brooklyn DAC that is a DAC, Phono-stage, digital or analog volume control, input switch, and pre-amp. WHEW, a stereo swiss army knife! Another device that is "all-in-one" is the Naim Unity Atom that does even more by including a power amplifier. And do not forget the Chord Mojo and others that are a DAC with integrated headphone amplifier built-in.
There are also systems like the KII Three or the KEF LS50W that have it all neatly tucked into the speakers! These are not your 1970 JBL's!
I will discuss the analog portions of the system over time and will try for Wednesdays!