What is it?
An Integrated Amplifier?
A Stereo Receiver?
A Stereo Tuner Amplifier?
Is there a difference? Is it all the same? Yes. Honestly the terms are all used interchangeably quite often, but they truly aren’t interchangeable. Here is a basic rundown.
Stereo – Stereo is really just a term that means you are hearing from two channels instead of one. Mono vs Stereo. Stereo is commonly used to mean any device that amplifies sound waves though. This probably comes from people saying “I like you Stereo system.” What this means is that you like a two channel audio system, but it now has come to mean that you like any audio system, whether one channel, two channel, surround sound, thx, 5.1, 7.1 or any other blend. Stereophonic is what Stereo is short for, just like mono is short for monophonic.
Amplifier – An Amplifier is simply a device that amplifies an audio signal. An amp or amplifier would not have any equalizer, volume, bass, treble, or other controls. An amplifier also has a set input and output, with no options to change between Phono, Aux, CD, Tape, Tuner or other inputs. If you plugged in your Turntable to an amplifier it would be very quiet most likely, and if you plugged in a CD player it would probably be blaringly loud since there is no volume control just amplification.
Integrated Amplifier – An integrated amplifier is an amp (see above) that also has the controls for input devices, along with typically equalizer controls and a volume control. This is one of the most common types of audio devices in our systems. You can plug in multiple devices to this, switch between them, adjust the sound output, use loudness controls, and mono vs stereo choices, etc.
Receiver – A receiver is technically something that receives something. You can be a wide-receiver (as in football), or a Stereo Receiver (you receive two channels of audio input) or a Radio Receiver (you receive the radio waves of AM and/or FM band). The term Receiver though is one of the most common used terms in audio equipment. People call amps receivers, integrated amps receivers, tuners receivers, pre-amps receivers, and more.
Tuner- A tuner is one of the simplest to remember terms, it means a radio tuner. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone refer to an amplifier as a tuner. A tuner will only recieve radio signals and then output them via (typically) RCA jacks which you would connect to your integrated amplifier. Often an integrated amplifier will have a tuner built in, this is what often is called a receiver, or even a tuner integrated amplifier.
Pre-Amplifier – A pre-amp is the device you would plug into your amplifier that controls it. This will tell it the volume of amplification to apply, it also will switch between the signal inputs you have running into the pre-amp. A pre-amp has also come to describe a device that preamplifies your turntable for going into a standard AUX (auxiliary input). A turntable will only output sound at a very very low volume and decibals. This needs amplification before the main amplication. Older receivers, integrated amps, stereos, etc. usually have a PHONO input which is meant for your record player (AKA phonograph). Newer devices often lack a PHONO input so you need a phono preamp that can then allow you to run the turntable into your Aux/CD/TAPE input.
Phonograph – Same as Record Player or Turntable. Rarely used, yet for some reason most integrated amplifiers list PHONO as the input type for your record player.
Turntable – A device that spins a platter around, typically via a direct motor or belt attached to a motor, that has a tonearm and cartridge that translate grooves in a record (vinyl) into soundwaves.
Record Player – See Turntable or Phonograph
Any other terms you are confused about? Just ask, or swing by our Seattle store and we will be more than glad to help you out!