What is Pre-Out on AV Receiver and When to Use it?-The Ultimate Guide

You might have heard about a Pre-out receiver. But, you may not know what a pre-out on an AV receiver is and when to use it.

In this article, I will explain everything about this feature of the AC receiver. A pre-out on a receiver passes the signals to another power source without amplifying.

It does not use the amplifier built into the receiver itself. However, some people do not look for this feature while buying a receiver.

Because they do not understand the function of pre-out. However, it can benefit you a lot and add more fun to your home theater.

hat is Pre-Out on AV Receiver and When to Use it?

Therefore, I decided to explain everything about the pre-out on the AV receiver. Kindly read this article till the end to get all the knowledge and to understand things deeply.

What is an AV receiver?

As you know, an AV receiver is a media switching device commonly used in a home theater. However, there is much more to know about this device.

AVR stands for ‘Audio/Video’ receiver. It’s a combination of an audio amplifier and an audio/video switching device.

It is equipped with multiple input ports to connect all the devices. It controls the inputs and outputs of these devices.

What is an AV receiver?

For example, you can connect cable TV boxes, CD players, streaming devices, soundbars, speakers, subwoofers, and other media devices.

An HDMI cable is used to connect the AV receiver to the TV. So, in simple words, an AV receiver is the hub and junction of all devices in your home theater.

How does an AV Receiver Function?

The AV receiver has two major functions. Its first duty is to amplify the sound to send to the speakers in an appropriate format.

Its second job is to let you choose the audio and video you wish to listen to or watch. You can link various devices to each other using an AV receiver as the middle man.

It sends audio/video signals to the relevant devices. It powers up your whole home theater setup and works as the brain behind it.

So, it receives, interprets, and then sends signals to the devices. Generally, an AV receiver contains 5 or more amplifiers.

What is A Pre-Out?

What is A Pre-Out?

In fact, Pre-out is a connection port on your AV receiver. It allows you to connect an external amp to your home theater system instead of using the amp built-in in the AVR.

It means you can add extra power to your home theater. The audio signals come un-amplified from your AV receiver to the external amp which then amplifies it.

So, your AV receiver’s duty is performed by an external amp. The speakers are connected to the external amp instead of your AVR.

Benefits of Pre-Out

A pre-out allows you to add an external amp to your home theater setup. It reduces the strain on your receiver.

Moreover, external power amps perform better than the built-in amp of the AVR. An external amp is more powerful. Hence, you get an improved audio quality.

If you want to upgrade your audio system, you should opt for an AV receiver having pre-out. There can be multiple pre-out ports on an AV receiver.

This is especially useful for large home theater setups. However, AVR with pre-outs is expensive as compared to normal receivers.

When to Use Pre-Out?

Now, you have to understand what a pre-out on an AV receiver is. The next question is when and why to use pre-out? The simple answer is:

  • When your AV receiver alone cannot handle the home theater system.
  • You are not getting the quality sound or you feel something is missing.
  • Your AV receiver is not powerful enough.
  • You have a complex home theater system.
  • When you have Zone 2 or Zone 3 outputs to play audio in other rooms.
  • When your media room is too large and requires extra power.
  • Use a pre-out if you want to upgrade your home theater system.

In all these cases, your AV receiver is unable to amplify audio signals properly. Hence, it needs a helping hand that can be provided by connecting an external amp with it.

In fact, the built-in amp of an AVR is weak due to its compact design. The modern AV receivers feature a smart design but serve a dual purpose.

Therefore, they compromise on amp power and you need to add an external amp that is bigger and more powerful.

Common External Amps

subwoofer

Modern sound systems contain a soundbar and a subwoofer. The subwoofer is a common external amp. It processes the sound coming from soundbar, speaker, or TV.

It amplifies the audio through its built-in amp. So, you can attach a subwoofer directly to the pre-out port on your AVR.

The speakers and soundbars are then linked to the subwoofer. Further, some audio systems come with their own amplifier called ‘Active Speakers’.

These speakers need to attach to the pre-out. They share the load of your AVR. Hence, your speakers give their best.

Also read: Review of the Best 17 Subwoofers for Home Theater (2022)

Benefits of Pre-Out on AV Receiver

What is pre-out on AV receiver and when to use it? This question can be fully answered when you comprehend the benefits and drawbacks of pre-outs.

Even if your AVR is expensive, it may be lacking the necessary power to handle the complex home theater system. Because the heavy systems affect the efficiency of your receiver.

So, adding an external amp will increase the overall audio quality and performance. Let’s understand the benefits in more detail.

Reduces Strain on AV Receiver

One obvious benefit of using a pre-out is that it reduces strain on your AV receiver. So, it will have to use less power. The load will be shared with the external amp.

In this way, you can get maximum output both from your AVR and the sound system. Because the built-in amplifier of an AVR is not powerful enough.

It cannot supply power to multiple channels. If it does so, the amount of power reduces. In turn, the sound is not amplified properly.

Advanced AVRs also feature Bluetooth connectivity. So, it becomes more convenient to add external devices.

Improves Sound Quality

Pre-outs on an AV receiver allow you to add multiple sound channels. Hence, you can increase the efficiency of your home theater.

It can be used to make complex audio systems. You can add advanced audio channels like Dolby Atmos. The sound quality is improved significantly.

You can get the best surround sound experience. The addition of front-firing speakers and height channels adds more fun.

Furthermore, pre-out also improves the Sonic character. The passive speakers can be connected to the AV receiver. While the Active Speakers use their own amplifier.

This distributes the power equally and allows the system to work efficiently. In simple words, pre-out helps in the division of labor.

Drawbacks of Pre-Out on AV Receiver

AV Receiver

No doubt, a pre-out on AV receiver is a beneficial feature. However, it also has some drawbacks that you must know before opting for it.

Financial Burden

AV receives with pre-outs are expensive. If you do not need them, choose a simple receiver instead. However, you can buy an AV receiver with fewer pre-outs.

But still, it will cost you high. If you own a large home theater system then you must buy an expensive and powerful AV receiver.

However, it may not be possible for you to spend too much. In this case, an AV receiver with pre-out puts a financial burden on you.

Extra Power Consumption

Another drawback of using an AV receiver with pre-out is extra power consumption. A powerful AVR will use extra energy.

While the external amp also needs to connect to a power outlet. This will increase your electricity expense. Moreover, you may not have enough power outlets around your room.

Hence, you need to add more outlets or use an extension. But, it can be a problematic situation as extensions are prone to malfunctioning. Similarly, adding extra electrical outlets is a headache.

System Conflicts

Another major drawback of connecting external amps to pre-outs is that it leads to system conflicts. A lot of cables and wires run between your systems.

They can interfere with each other. This leads to sound irregularities. Moreover, a network of cables is vulnerable to tripping over and short circuits.

There is also a danger that kids or pets may entangle in the wires. It also gives an untidy look to your room unless you organize the cables properly.

How to Use Pre-out on AV Receiver

It is very simple and quick to connect an external amp to a pre-out. First, you need to check out the type of ports your devices support.

In this example, I take a subwoofer as an external amp. There are different connection options. If the subwoofer has only one port, you can use a single tip RCA cable.

An RCA cable and Y-splitter are needed if the subwoofer has multiple inputs. It is best to use the dedicated subwoofer cable if it is provided with your sub.

Follow these steps to make this connection;

  1. First of all, you need to locate the pre-out port on your AVR. They are present at the back of your AV receiver.
  2. A pre-out port is just like an RCA jack with one or two subwoofer outputs. You can identify them from the labels such as ‘FR, FL, C, SR, SL, SBR, SBL’.
  3. Now, connect the one end of the RCA cable to the subwoofer.
  4. Plug the other end of the cable into the pre-out port on the AV receiver.
  5. Make sure every connection is plugged in firmly. Turn ON all of your devices and check whether they are functioning or not.

Recommendations to Purchase an AV Receiver

If you are planning to purchase a new AV receiver, choose one with multiple pre-outs. You may not need a pre-out currently. But, it will be very beneficial for you in the future.

For example, if you will have to upgrade your home theater setup, pre-out will be helpful. You should prefer an AV receiver with multiple pre-outs.

It will be advantageous if you get a bigger and more massive home theater. Consider the requirements and compatibility of your system before purchasing an AV receiver.

Furthermore, read online reviews before deciding on a particular AV receiver. Because the market is full of a lot of brands. You cannot recognize which brand is best for you.

Some brands are too expensive, you can buy a good receiver within a limited budget. However, cost also affects the performance and power of your device.

Also read: The Method to Connect Subwoofer to A Reciever Lacking an Output

Pre-Out Function in AV Receiver

Final Words

If you are planning to add an AV receiver with pre-outs to your home theater system, this article is the best guide for you.

I tried to explain every concept in simple words and in full detail. Now, you have a better idea of an AV receiver and pre-out.

I also told you the advantages and disadvantages of pre-outs. Moreover, you can also consult this guide if you want honest suggestions while buying an AV receiver with pre-outs.

This article has also told you the method to use pre-outs. In short, I provided you with a complete and comprehensive guide. Hopefully, nothing is left unexplained.

Surely, now you have understood well what is a pre-out on an AV receiver and when to use it. Feel free to ask us further questions.