Specifications for Home Audio Controllers and Preamplifiers

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Understanding the Specifications for Home Audio Controllers and Preamplifiers

In the audio world, there is no shortage of ways to store and listen to music. However, with so many choices comes the challenge of controlling and utilising them all. This is where home audio controllers and preamplifiers can be useful. A home audio controller connects multiple devices, including home theatre systems; DVD, CD, and MP3 players; and satellite radio receivers.

The home audio controller and preamplifier that is the right choice for a buyer is determined by reviewing the available specifications to make sure that they correspond to the audio devices that the controller and preamplifier are to be used with. To accomplish this, buyers need to understand what the home audio controller and preamplifier are and the meaning of their specifications. There are some technical terms that are explained easily, which help the buyer to make an informed purchase. Home audio controllers and preamplifiers can be found at home entertainment shops, audio retailers, and online at eBay..

Home Audio Terminology

Understanding the specifications for home audio controllers and preamplifiers requires the buyer to known some terminology. Firstly, it is helpful to understand zones and what they mean for the number and type of devices that a home audio controller can work with. This, in turn, helps to define the purpose of a preamplifier. The main terminology relating to specifications, includes wattage, ohms, and Bluetooth.

Zones for Home Audio Systems

The master control unit for a home audio controller is located in one room. This does not mean that control of the audio devices is limited to the same room. Each room requiring audio control is classed as an individual zone. One controller is required for each zone. Once the number of zones is established, buyers know how many smaller control panels are required. The specification of the home audio controller should state how many zones it can accommodate. The majority of models can operate four, six, or eight individual zones, although some can be extended, or come already equipped, to handle up to 16 zones. The more zones, the more likely a preamplifier will be required.

Preamplifiers for Home Audio Systems

A preamplifier is used to enhance the signal of the controller and transfer it from the audio source to a standard power amplifier. A preamplifier has an individual set of controls that include volume, balance, and tone configurations. If each zone is controlled individually, which means that the choice of audio device and volume are chosen independently of the master control unit, then a preamplifier may be required to assist this process. A preamplifier is most commonly required when there are many zones or in areas where there is a poor signal. A preamplifier is either built into the home audio controller or the controller and preamplifier are bought as individual parts of one package. Preamplifiers can also be bought separately, if necessary. If this happens, then the buyer needs to know how many ohms it can handle. If the capacity is too small, the preamplifier will not function correctly and there is a risk of damage to the speakers of the audio devices.

Ohms for Home Audio Systems

An ohm is a unit of electrical measurement. It is used to describe the electrical resistance, or impedance, in an electrical device. It is important to know the maximum number of ohms, or the amount of impedance, that a home audio controller and preamplifier can handle, as every audio device attached to it also has an impedance measurement. The number of ohms from any device connected to the home audio controller must not exceed the maximum number of ohms that the controller can manage safely. If the number of ohms is lower than or equal to the maximum, then that is fine, but if it is greater than the maximum, then that overloads the impedance to the home audio controller, which can damage it or lead to inferior audio performance.

Wattage for Home Audio Systems

Wattage, or watts, is a measurement of power. In the context of home audio systems, watts are used to measure the output of a preamplifier. If the maximum continuous output of a preamplifier is 40 watts, then any element connected it, including speakers, the stereo system, or the home audio controller, should also not exceed 40 watts at continuous flow. If any one device is more powerful, then there is a risk of damage to any or all of the devices in the circuit.

Bluetooth for Home Audio Systems

Bluetooth is a form of wireless technology and some home audio controllers have Bluetooth features. Home audio controllers with Bluetooth can be paired easily with other Bluetooth enabled audio devices, for example iPods, MP3 players, iPads,, Android tablets, or notebooks. The music or other audio files can be streamed directly from the device using Bluetooth technology.

Easy Specifications for Home Audio Controllers and Preamplifiers

There are many technical aspects to a home audio controller and preamplifier that can make knowing which one to purchase a difficult decision. The best way to start the process is to understand the easier elements of the specifications. The first specification that should be looked at for a home audio controller is how many source devices it can work with. Then the buyer needs to decide whether it should be wireless or hardwired.

Media Device Specifications

After determining the number of zones and if a preamplifier is required, buyers then need to take note of how many and what type of devices need to be controlled. These are commonly referred to as sources. Home audio controllers can control a range of sources, including home theatre systems, stereo systems, and CD and MP3 players. While most home audio systems can manage four or eight audio sources, not all home audio controllers and preamplifiers will work with every type of source device. Every home audio controller should state clearly which devices it can be paired with successfully.

Wireless or Hardwired Home Audio Controller

Another aspect of the specifications of home audio controllers and preamplifiers is whether they should be wireless or hardwired. Wireless home audio controllers are more expensive, but are considerably less complicated to install as there is no need to accommodate trailing cables. However, wireless home audio controllers may experience poor performance when compared to wired models, because of other wireless devices in the home, such as microwaves, that can cause interference. The use of a preamplifier helps to reduce the negative effects of interference.

Using a wired home audio controller is initially less expensive, but the costs can increase as installation begins. Buyers incur the additional cost of cables, which need to be secured and maintained. The main disadvantage of hardwired home audio controllers is indeed the length of cable that must run from room to room and the cost of installation. However, hardwired home audio controllers are not subject to interference or noise, as long as the cables are of good quality.

How to Buy a Home Audio Controller and Preamplifier on eBay

Buyers can search for home audio controllers and preamplifiers from the eBay homepage by entering a phrase such as "home audio controllers and preamplifiers&" in the search box. They can choose the appropriate categories or narrow down their search results using the filters that eBay offers. These filters allow the buyer to find the home audio controllers and preamplifiers that are best suited for their requirements. These filters include the price range and condition of the item.

Buyers should ensure that they read the item description and look at the photograph carefully before purchasing the home audio controller and preamplifier. If the buyer has any concerns about the items they can contact the seller directly to ask any questions. When purchasing a second hand home audio controller or preamplifier, buyers should look for signs of damage.

Seller Feedback

When purchasing an item on eBay, the buyer should look at the feedback of the seller carefully. Feedback is based on criteria including the accuracy of the item description, speed of delivery, and the reasonableness of the postage charges. Feedback can be positive, neutral, or negative. Choosing a seller who has a high percentage of positive feedback helps to ensure that the transaction is smooth and straightforward.


Understanding the specifications of a home audio controller and preamplifier allows buyers to purchase the correct model for their home audio requirements. Many of the specifications and much of the terminology used to describe home audio controllers and preamplifiers is confusing to novices, so some knowledge avoids the risk of buying inappropriate devices.

Buyers need to know how many zones they wish to control so that they can select a home audio controller that supports the same number of zones. Understanding the purpose of the preamplifier and the meaning of terms such as ohms and watts means that the buyer can match the devices correct and avoid any damage to the system. In many cases, buyers can purchase everything that they need to establish a home audio control system as a package, including the home audio controller, preamplifier, power amplifier, and speakers, which ensure that all of the elements are compatible. All of these items are available on eBay.

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