The Basics Explained

Amplification : Noun: the process of increasing the volume of sound, especially using an amplifier.

But as with everything in life, there is more to it than that!

It’s a bewildering world of terms out there integrated, pre, power, valve, solid state, mono blocks, and to anyone new to the scene it must feel like feeling around in the fog. So maybe we just iron out some of the mysteries. But in its most basic form, you need some sort of amplifier to enable the sound to reach your speakers from your source ie, turntable, CD player or streamer.

We know what the word amplification means as the dictionary tells us.  And your hifi retailer can help you too.

An Integrated Amplifier is an amplifier which has both the power and the ability to control the method of the delivery of your sound, to your speakers all in one box.  Great for space saving and convenience and brilliant way to start off your audio journey.

PMC cor integrated amplifier 

A Pre Amplifier is a separate control box which you team with a power amplifier to produce your sound.  This is seen as an advantage as it keeps the circuitry of the two amp’s separate reducing any interference noise or heating issues.

Parasound JC2BP pre amplifier

Valve Amplifiers use valves to convert signal to sound: they are liked by many because they produce a lowered powered warmer richer sound than the solid state amps.

McIntosh 275 valve amplifier

A Solid State amplifier uses transistor circuits to convert an electrical signal into an audio wave and produce an efficient loud, clean, undistorted signal. Arguably more eco friendly.

Naim Supernait 3 solid state amplifier

Power Amplfiers take the signal from the pre-amplifier and boosts it to a level that can power loudspeakers, enabling you to hear the music. They come in various configurations, such as:

Mono Blocks are single mono power amplifiers wired to enable separate amplification of the separate speaker channels. They could be either valve or solid state at your preference.

Parasound JC1+ mono block

Stereo Power Ampilfiers are effectively two mono blocks in one case, so taking up less space, but arguably not quite as good sound quality as using a pair of separate mono blocks.

Naim NAP 500 DR stereo power amp

That’s the basic mechanics, but of course the true test of these different amps is, do you like the sound? So the best advice is listen, enjoy and make your choice.

Author Elizabeth Gould – Martins HiFi