How to Wire a Preamplifier

By David Lipscomb

Connecting preamplifiers properly is critical to a successful stereo or theater install.
i audio connectors image by NiDerLander from

Preamplifiers are system hubs, where all the source devices, such as CD players and turntables, converge. Preamps also are the signal distribution centers, connecting to external amplification. Connected using low-level signals, preamplifiers do not actively amplify anything. However, without a preamp, most modern amplifiers would lack sufficient signal voltage to produce a volume level suitable for most applications. For those familiar with connecting receivers, connecting preamps is the same, with the addition of additional cabling required to lead to the amplifiers.

Access the rear of the sources, preamp and amplifier(s). Locate the output jacks on the back of the sources and the corresponding inputs on the preamp.

Connect the sources to the preamp using the best possible connection. In descending order, this would be HDMI, digital optical, digital coaxial and RCA analog. Push in the connectors from the audio outputs on the sources to the appropriately-labeled inputs on the preamp.

Find the RCA preamp output cluster on the back of the preamplifier. Find the corresponding inputs on the back of the amplifier(s).

Plug the RCA cables from the preamp outputs to the matching inputs on the amps.