Introduction to Preamplifier Reviews

You are going to need a quality preamplifier if you choose to go with separates for your hi fi system. This is a good choice for those who want to try out different amps or if you want to start out with a lower powered amp and then have an upgrade path to a bigger amp in the future. Preamplifiers can range all the way from simple passive designs that may be nothing more than a simple potentiometer all the way to very complex designs that feature internal DAC's, Bluetooth, WiFi, video processing, video switching, etc. Some preamplifiers include digital file playback capability from PC's, MAC's, external hard drives or wirelessly over your home network. This product category is advancing at the speed of social media and you can rely on Secrets to help guide you to the ideal choice for your needs. To top it all off, our independent bench tests give you guidance in so far as which products deliver the goods and which should just be avoided.



Bryston BP17 Stereo Preamplifier

Bryston is the only high-end audio company I know of that offers a 20 year warranty on its products. They manufacture some very expensive preamps and power amps, but even the least expensive product carries that warranty. Why? Because they have massive build quality. The BP17 stereo preamplifier exemplifies that approach, and it is in the middle of their preamplifier line-up, which includes the BP6 and BP26.


Funk LAP-2.V3 Preamplifier

It is becoming increasingly popular for high end audio buffs to use pro studio gear in their home systems. This preamp from a German manufacturer that makes pro gear is in keeping with this trend. As a matter of fact...


Pass Labs XP-10 Stereo Preamplifier

 In the past, we reviewed the Pass Labs XP-20 and XP-30 stereo preamplifiers. Now, we come full circle with a review of the remaining member of their preamplifier trio, the XP-10, which is the least expensive model. It is fully balanced, and has a slightly different sound character compared to the other two, which also sound different from one another. All three are great products, so you can choose based on price and/or sound characteristics.



Classe CP-800 Stereo Preamplifier

Classe CP-800 Stereo Preamplifier

Classé's new CP-800 is a high performance ("High-End") stereo preamplifier, but it is not just yet another preamp with minor changes from previous models. This one has the option of switching in some DSP that adds several EQ bands and dedicated stereo subwoofer outputs. If you don't use the DSP, it's not in the signal path, and you can still call yourself a "purist" audiophile. Have no doubts; this is a very unique product, and the performance is stellar.

Pass Labs XP-20 Stereo Preamplifier

Pass Labs XP-20 Stereo Preamplifier

After having tested a Pass power amplifier and phono preamplifier, I could not wait to get my hands on a preamplifier, to complete the system analysis. The subject of this review is the venerable XP-20, which has been in the Pass inventory since 2009. It's a fully balanced design, with separate power supply chassis for low noise. The bench test results were quite surprising. Read on to see for yourselves.