How to Connect an Amplifier to a Receiver Without Pre-Outs

Receivers are one of the most complicated devices one can purchase. If you had a look at the back of your AV receiver at some point, you must have got overwhelmed by so many connection ports available. One can get confused about which ports to use. However, when one gets to understand how the receiver works, it is very easy to connect it.

Receivers are designed with inbuilt amplifiers, which tend to be weak. Thus, one may need to connect an externally powered amplifier for a better performance experience.  Thus, pre-outs in receivers enable one to connect the external amplifier to increase your home sound system amplification power. Signals passed through the receiver are not amplified here but instead, get amplified by the external amplifier.

Reasons for pre-out connectionsReasons for pre-out connections

Pre-outs in most home theatre systems are commonly used in subwoofers. There are so many other scenarios that pre-outs can be used. Subwoofers have in-built amplifiers; hence pre-out connections can be applied to them. These internal amplifiers can also be referred to as active speakers.

Power limitations make the receivers less powerful, especially when your home sound setup is complex. External amplifiers are capable of realizing a powerful output that the receiver was unable to achieve. Using external amplifiers boosts the quality of your home theatre system sound. They also weaken the in-built amplifier load, hence operating excellently.

There are instances where one might need to listen to audios from different rooms. Large rooms will increase the power utilization of your system since the connection will cover a larger area. Zone 2 and Zone 3 outputs in your system will allow you to run this connection using the pre-outs.

Connecting receivers to the external amplifier ensure that the connected speakers are powered, producing quality audio. Sound flexibility of the speakers can be achieved by adding graphic equalizers between the preamp and the externally connected amplifier.

How pre-out receivers workHow pre-out receivers work

Pre-out receivers are designed with a pre-out external amplifier connection option. As previously mentioned, receivers have weak inbuilt amplifiers. Thus, connecting a more powerful amplifier will enhance a higher speaker output. This is made possible by the amplification function of the connected amplifier. It also provides power to the speakers.

Receivers do not interfere with the speaker’s audio recordings, volume, digital and source inputs. It thus functions as a preamp. On the other hand, the external amplifier ensures that speakers perform nicely since the amplifier powers them.

Setting up the pre-out receiverSetting up the pre-out receiver

It is effortless to set up a pre-out receiver. Below are the recommended steps that one can follow in setting up a receiver;

On the receiver, locate the pre-out socket. The sockets are the same as RCA jacks found at the receiver’s back, and each is labelled.

On locating the pre-outs, use the RCA cable to connect the receiver to the amplifier. All pre-outs are designed in a way that they can work appropriately with RCA cables.

It may be challenging to make the connection successful entirely. However, you will realize that it only took you to understand the ports keenly on completing the process.

How to connect an amplifier to a receiver without pre-outsconnecting an amplifier to a receiver without pre-outs

It is possible to have your amplifier work effectively while connected to a receiver that lacks pre-outs. Below are some ways to go about it;

a) By use of High Inputs Levels

Various amplifiers are designed with inbuilt high-level inputs instead of pre-outs. Additionally, a line-level converter can be used. It enhances the conversion of the receiver’s out channel signals to RCA output.

b) Use of tape out

It is available mainly in old receivers. RCA stereos with an imbalance offer signals that are directed to the amplifier through an input channel. Since outputs from the tape are line-level signals, it is necessary to ensure that the volume controls of your speaker are adequate. If they fail, it may blow up your speaker channels.

Remember that the tape output will play at the receiver’s entire volume. It is therefore essential to ensure that it has again or volume controls. However, it is hard for this to happen, but on its application, be sure that the system will perform nicely.

Advantages of using pre-outs on receiversAdvantages of using pre-outs on receivers

Having pre-outs in your receiver will have the following advantages;

  • Improves sonic character

The general sonic features of your sound system are improved when one makes use of pre-outs. This improvement also benefits passive and active speakers connected. Pre-outs are helpful when setting up more complex setups.

  • Improve your speaker system

Exceptional speaker channels can be connected in the pre-out section, including ‘Front Wide’ and other unique channels. Pre-outs can improve your system’s sound performance on a proper connection.

  • Pre-outs drain less power on your receiver.

Once you connect your receiver to an external source of power, less power is utilized. It is always vital to purchase the best receiver quality for better operation and power consumption. It prevents blowing off of the receiver, thus remaining effectively functional. An excellent example of a quality receiver is the Onkyo 4K Receiver.

Disadvantages of using pre-outs

  • Pre-outs can be costly- Purchasing a powerful receiver to serve your powerful home sound system will cost you much. You will be forced to spend a lot in buying a receiver with several connection options, though it may serve you effectively.
  • Consumes more power – Connecting an extra amplifier leads to increased power consumption. Its use, in the long run, will be expensive.
  • May result in sound-related problems and use of extra cables – An additional connection might result in various sound problems which may be irritative to the listener. An unorganized cable connection will indirectly affect the quality of your sound.


In conclusion, receivers can be a bit complicated. It is always good to have an idea of how to go about various connections to the receiver. Pre-outs enhance better sound quality. They help improve the receiver’s amplification power by allowing one to connect it to an externally powered amplifier.

The use of high input levels and tape out is one way to connect an amplifier to a receiver without pre-outs. You can also purchase a cheaper pre/pro type of amplifier. Ensure you use any of these ways to connect your amplifier to your receiver if it lacks the pre-outs.

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