A preamp, short for preamplifier, is an electronic device used to amplify weak signals from guitars, microphones, or other audio sources before they are sent to a power amplifier or recording device. Preamps serve several important functions in audio systems:

1. **Signal Boosting**: The primary function of a preamp is to increase the level of weak signals to line level, which is the standard level used in audio equipment. This boost ensures that the signal remains strong and clear throughout the audio chain, minimizing noise and distortion.

2. **Tone Shaping**: Many preamps feature tone controls such as EQ (equalization) knobs or switches, which allow users to adjust the frequency response of the signal. This can include boosting or cutting specific frequencies to tailor the tone to the desired sound.

3. **Impedance Matching**: Preamps often include input and output impedance controls to match the impedance of the source device (e.g., a guitar pickup) with the impedance of the connected equipment (e.g., an amplifier or mixer). Proper impedance matching ensures optimal signal transfer and prevents signal degradation.

4. **Coloration and Character**: Some preamps are designed to impart a specific sonic character or coloration to the signal, adding warmth, richness, or saturation. This can be achieved through the use of vacuum tubes, transformers, or other analog components known for their unique sonic characteristics.

5. **Gain Staging**: Preamps play a crucial role in gain staging, which involves managing the levels of audio signals at each stage of the signal chain to optimize signal-to-noise ratio and prevent distortion. By adjusting the gain or volume controls on the preamp, users can control the overall level of the signal before it reaches subsequent stages of processing or amplification.

6. **Phantom Power**: Many preamps provide phantom power, which is required to power condenser microphones and certain active DI (direct input) boxes. Phantom power is typically supplied at +48 volts and is transmitted through the microphone cable to power the microphone or DI box.

Preamps are commonly found in a variety of audio equipment, including guitar amplifiers, mixing consoles, recording interfaces, and standalone preamp units. They are essential for ensuring clean, clear, and balanced audio signals in both live sound reinforcement and studio recording applications. Additionally, dedicated guitar preamps are available as standalone units or built into amplifiers, offering guitarists additional control over their tone and signal chain.

Filter by Pedal Brand

Pedal Type

Showing 1–30 of 92 results