A power amplifier is an electronic amplifier designed to increase the magnitude of power of a given input signal. The power of the input signal is increased to a level high enough to drive loads of output devices like speakers, headphones, RF transmitters etc.
An integrated amplifier (pre/main amp) is an electronic device containing an audio preamplifier and power amplifier in one unit, as opposed to separating the two. Most modern audio amplifiers are integrated and have several inputs for devices such as CD players, DVD players, and auxiliary sources.
A preamplifier, also known as a preamp, is an electronic amplifier that converts a weak electrical signal into an output signal strong enough to be noise-tolerant and strong enough for further processing, or for sending to a power amplifier and a loudspeaker. Without this, the final signal would be noisy or distorted. They are typically used to amplify signals from analog sensors such as microphones and pickups. Because of this, the preamplifier is often placed close to the sensor to reduce the effects of noise and interference.
A phono stage (also known as a phono pre-amp) provides the connection between the record player and an amplifier. When vinyl was the defacto standard for audio recording, the phono stage was built-in to receivers and amps, allowing direct connection of a turntable.
A DACs simply converts a digital audio signal into an analog one so that your headphones can then create sound. Much like headphone amplifiers, standalone DACs came about as a response to poor audio quality at the consumer level.
By music streamer, we mean a device that has the ability to play audio stored in another location. This location can be over the Internet, in the form of a streaming service like Spotify or Tidal, or an external hard drive. And to complete your system, check out our list of the best DACs and best bookshelf speakers.
Like the CD, DVD, SACD was a dual-layer format, but instead of one or two high-density layers, the SACD could have a high-density layer and a CD-compatible layer, so the compatible layer of dual-layer SACDs could be played in any standards-compliant DVD or CD player.