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Stereo gear in simple terms

Posted by Bryan Johnson on

What is a receiver, or an amplifier? What do I need to listen to my music?

Here is a very simple list of items and an explanation of each.

Amplifier: An amplifier is a device designed to accept a music signal and increase the strength of that signal. It is connected to one or more speakers and is what drives the speakers to reproduce the sound that you hear. It receives it's signal from a Pre-amplifier. It may be a stand alone device or part of a Receiver or Integrated Amplifier

Pre-amplifier: A device that acts as a switch box between various music sources such as a CD player, turntable, phone, cassette deck, or any other device that reproduces music. It has a volume control, source selector switch and may have tone, balance and other controls which affect how the music sounds. It passes it's signal to an Amplifier. It may be a stand alone device or part of a Receiver or Integrated Amplifier.

Integrated Amplifier: A device that combines both an Amplifier and a Pre-amplifier in one box. Source components send a signal to it and then it passes that to one or more speakers.

Receiver: A device made up of a Pre-amplifier, an Amplifier and a Tuner all in one box. Source devices such as CD players, turntables, phones, etc... send their signal to this device. It then takes that signal and sends it to one or more speakers.

Source Components: These include tuners, CD players, cassette decks, turntables, reel to reel decks, music streamers, phones and more.

Tuner: A device designed specifically to receive radio broadcasts. It may be a stand alone device or may be apart of a Receiver or Pre-amplifier.

Speakers: Designed to accept a music signal from an Amplifier or Receiver and reproduce that signal so that your ears can hear it.

A stereo system is a combination of any of these devices with a pair of speakers or a pair of headphones/ear buds.

Why isn't everything just in one box? Well, that is where your style of listening, your budget and tastes come in to play. It can be in one box and many people prefer it that way. However, to put everything in one box requires certain compromises be made in order to make everything fit. This can lead to poorer overall performance when compared to every device being in it's own box.

The reason for so many different types and sizes of equipment is because people have so many different ways of listening to music depending on the environment or situation they are in.

What do I need? In order to have a stereo system, you will need at the very least a Receiver or Integrated Amplifier and a pair of Speakers along with whatever Source Component you are going to use to get your music from.

Our job is to help you walk through that process and get it sorted out. Appearance, price, size, sound quality are all things to consider and every person has a different perspective on how important each of those factors are.



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