Used Audio Controllers and Preamplifiers: Features and Vintages

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Used Audio Controllers and Preamplifiers: Features and Vintages

Audio controllers, such as power amplifiers, combined with the use of preamplifiers can turn an average sound source, such as a CD or DVD, into a full, well-rounded source of audio with no interference. However, buying separate pieces of top quality audio equipment can be costly. For this reason, many individuals choose to buy used audio controllers and preamplifiers. When looking at used components, there are a few features to consider, such as power outputs, sound controls, as well as input and output options. Shoppers in the market for used audio controllers or preamplifiers have a number of options to choose from. One may consider a vintage model that uses tube technology to create a unique sound and effect. On the other hand, a buyer may prefer a modern unit that offers a different audio effect. For many buyers, this comes down to a matter of personal preference.

Audio equipment such as used audio controllers and preamplifiers may be found at audio stores or second-hand stores. However, one can access a more extensive collection of used audio equipment at competitive prices online at the auction site eBay.

Used Audio Controllers

When talking about home theatre and sound systems, an audio controller often refers to a power amplifier. Power amplifiers are used with various other audio components, such as AV receivers, preamplifiers, crossovers, equalisers, and mixers, to deliver superior sound quality. A power amplifier is an expensive piece of audio equipment, as is the case with a number of other high end components used with the power amp. For this reason, many individuals choose to buy used power amplifiers..

A used power amp acts as an audio controller. It sits between a preamp and the loudspeakers of an audio system. The preamp selects the particular sound to transmit, and the power amp takes this signal and makes it louder, sending it out through the speakers as high quality sound.

Popular Features in Audio Controllers

When looking for a used power amp audio controller, there is a wide range of features to consider. Some of the more common features include the controller’s power output and the ohm rating. Each of these features can directly affect the type and quality of sound produced through the entire system.

Power Output

An audio amplifier’s power output is described in watts. When a power output rating is used, this figure describes the unit’s maximum power output ability. For example, a 250-watt power amplifier is able to run anywhere between 1 watt and 250 watts. If it should exceed this, it can damage the system. A power amplifier’s power output can range significantly upwards to 100 watts and above.

About Audio Controller Ohms

A power amplifier is designed to work with a certain level of electrical resistance, measured in ohms. Amplifiers commonly are available with 4, 8, or 16 ohms. This rating is important because, in order to get superior sound quality, one needs to match this rating with the speakers. Incorrectly matching speakers to an audio controller can end up damaging the speakers. Before purchasing a used audio controller, buyers should be aware of the resistance level of their speakers.

Used Audio Controller Vintages

There are two main audio controller vintage types. Vacuum tube amplifiers have been around for many decades. Solid state amplifiers are a modern version of the original tube amplifiers.

Vacuum Tube Audio Controllers

Prior to the 1960s, vacuum tube controllers were the norm. Tube amplifiers are described as high voltage, low current units. They tend to run less efficiently and create more heat than their modern counterparts. With a tube controller, one usually needs to use an additional component, an audio output transformer. This transformer controls the output levels that drive the speakers, protecting them from being damaged. Vacuum tube power amplifiers are still used predominantly by professional musicians and sound engineers. They are rarely used by DJs.

Solid State Audio Controllers

Solid state power amplifiers became popular during the 1960s and 1970s. A solid state controller processes a signal that is opposite to a tube controller and is a low voltage, high current device. These types of audio controllers use transistors as opposed to vacuum tubes. Transistor power amplifiers offer several advantages over tube amplifiers. They run more efficiently, are lighter and smaller, and there is no need for the use of an audio output transformer. Solid state controllers also tend to last longer with less maintenance.

Used Preamplifiers

A preamplifier is an electronic audio device that prepares an audio signal for it to be processed and amplified. A preamplifier is more commonly used as part of a home entertainment system, for optimum sound quality when listening to music, watching television and movies, and when playing video games. With home audio systems, a preamp is often used to switch between different components, such as CD players, DVD players, and other equipment. A preamp in this type of set-up usually has a volume control. A power amplifier is required to drive the speakers.

Popular Features in Preamplifiers

Because a preamplifier sits in order between the audio source, such as the CD or DVD player, and the power amplifier, a preamp needs to possess several features in order for a user to get the most out of the component. The following table provides a list of some common features available in older and newer preamplifiers.

Preamplifier Feature


Program Source Selector

User can easily switch between different components, such as CD or DVD player, turntable, or tuner

Sound Controls

User can control right and left balance and tone, including bass, treble, and, sometimes, mid-range tone

Headphone Jack

Allows the user to listen with headphones

AC Outlets

AC outlets on the rear panel are useful for connecting power amp up for convenience and simplification of running both components. AC outlets also allow users to connect various other components

Centre Channel Speaker Connection

Allows user to connect up a centre speaker directly into the component. Some preamps also allow for active bi-amping

Phono Grounding Screw

Allows amplification for magnetic phono cartridges

Remote Control

Convenient, some preamps enable remote control to run both preamp and power amp

When buying a used preamplifier,, shoppers are well advised to consider the features that are available with a particular model. Older models tend to have fewer features, while newer models can have many high-tech features.

Used Preamplifier Vintages

Preamplifiers have been around for many decades. Many audiophiles believe that the older models, which tended to be uniquely handcrafted, offer better sound quality than what newer models may offer. For this reason, audio buffs like to buy preamps manufactured in earlier decades. There are two main types of vintage preamplifiers. The quality of sound produced by either type is debatable, and it tends to come down to a matter of personal preference as to which type offers greater sound quality.

Tube Circuit Preamps

Tube preamps use thermionic valves to operate. Known to create deep bass, a mid-range presence, and upper frequencies that are considered to be very musical in sound and tone, tube preamps are appreciated for the character they can add to the audio. A tube preamp is often described as being warm, fat, beefy, or colourful. This description refers to the type of sound produced. Tube amps have been around for decades, prior to the introduction of solid state preamps.

Solid State Preamps

Where tube preamps use valves, a solid state preamp uses transistors to operate. Solid state preamps can create little distortion throughout their amplitude range. Believed to create a more accurate sound with little distortion, solid state amps can come across as sounding more sterile and thin when compared to tube circuit preamps. However, their ability to create accurate sound without distorting it can be an advantage, especially for those who like sound to be pure. One of the more popular solid state vintage amplifiers is the Neve 1073 preamplifier. This type of amplifier is a highly sought-after type of used preamp by buyers who are looking for a superior solid state preamp.

Buying Audio Controllers and Preamplifiers on eBay

To find used audio controllers and preamplifiers on eBay, you simply need to enter a search term in the search bar on the homepage. For example, you may type "used audio controllers" or "used preamplifiers&" into the search bar. Typing a general phrase into the search bar allows you to see an overview of what is available for sale on the website. To further refine a search, you may use the search category options available. These include searching by condition, price range, seller, or buying format.

Whatever you may decide to purchase on eBay, it is a good idea to get to know the sellers of the items before you place purchase orders. eBay awards reputable sellers with top-rated seller status. In order to achieve this status, buyers are required to consistently earn 4 or 5 star buyer ratings, deliver top quality service, receive excellent feedback, and ship items quickly. By choosing to work only with eBay’s reputable sellers, buyers add another layer of confidence in the purchasing process on eBay.


In order to create a high quality audio system that is ideal for listening to music or watching movies in the home, one has a number of audio components to choose from. For audiophiles and home audio enthusiasts, an audio controller and preamplifier can make a significant difference to a current sound system.

When it comes to audio controllers, buyers should look at the power rating and the ohm rating of the unit, as well as considering the choice between a vacuum tube amplifier and a more modern solid state amplifier. With preamplifiers, buyers ought to take into account features such as program source selectors, sound control, AC outlets, and remote control. Preamplifiers are also available in tube or solid state versions.

Naturally, high end audio system components from top brands are expensive. If one has a limited budget, then purchasing a used audio controller and preamplifier online at eBay is a great option. eBay provides buyers with simple search methods, reputable sellers, and useful tools that facilitate the process of looking for and purchasing the desired audio controller or preamplifier with confidence.

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