Power Supply

Some of the newer design preamplifiers, power amplifiers, and CD players have both "unbalanced" and "balanced" jacks (sockets) to connect them together. An unbalanced jack is the standard two connection jack. Typically, it is an RCA type found on just about every home electronic component made. The balanced jack has three connections - one for the positive, one for the negative, and a third for the ground (in the unbalanced connector, the ground is combined with the negative conductor). Balanced connections can eliminate electrical interference that gets into the cable which links the components together, especially if the cable has to be long (10 - 15 feet).

Fully balanced products are balanced throughout the circuitry in the chassis. This means balanced from input to output. Quasi-balanced products may have balanced inputs and/or outputs, but are not balanced throughout the circuit. Fully balanced products will always have less noise than unbalanced or quasi-balanced products. Quasi-balanced products may or may not have improved noise characteristics. What is important here is to know that if the product brochure or advertisement says it has balanced inputs and outputs, that does not mean it is fully balanced.

You will find that many of the high end preamplifiers don't have any tone controls (treble/bass), and practically none of them have DSP. What you will also discover is that with such high quality equipment, tone controls are not really necessary because the signal is not altered significantly as it passes through the system, and, thus, sounds quite natural. However, tone controls, and DSP, may be something you prefer to have. Equalizers are tone controls that allow the user to adjust not only the treble and bass, but many frequencies in between. If used in a surround sound system, they have to be placed after the surround sound decoding in the signal path. They are condemned by some audio purists, but they can be useful to fine tune the sound of a system so that it is just right for you. Therefore, listen to as wide a variety of setups as possible. Then you will be able to truly evaluate what it is you are trying to achieve in your home theater/home audio environment before you make the investment.