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Most passive pre-amp no need to worry of dirty power, power cord etc..but some might lack in bottom end, most does not have remote, need good quality and short IC cables, small and look funny when stand next to the big amp (if you don't mind).
Active pre-amp cover well in most areas such as remote, bottom end (some), may run with longher IC cables, look well with amp on the rack etc...Draw back is: might need good power cord, or worry of dirty power interfere to signal etc...
Both passive and active also need to worry one thing that is system match up, this is up to your taste. These are also not include on the performance, sonic or quality....
One passive I really like and have a chance to audition is FT audio LW1 (Litte Wonder-1) cost about $500.00. Check its review at www.soundstage.com/revequip/ftaudio_1w1.htm.
If you are only going to listen to one sound source, such as CD's, the Electronic Visionary Systems Ultimate Attenuators from tweakaudio.com attach right onto the input RCA jacks of your amplifier for $350, new. For this ridiculous low price you can have superb sound, as permitted by rest of your system. This eliminates need for IC between the eliminated pre-amp and your amp. This functions as a volume control and is recommended for single source listening. Will leave a lot of your money unspent, and yet your ears will be impressed.
i agree with all the previous comments regarding passive's advantages and the system issues required for passive to perform properly. for passive to work correctly in your system you do need sufficiently high input impedence amps, short interconnects from the passive to the amps, sources with adaquate output voltage, and speakers that are efficient enough to have enough gain with your passive. this is an oversimplification of the issues but it gives you an idea of what is involved.
to me the biggest advantage of passive is that it gets out of the way of the musical message.....and especially for your budget of $2k.....will outperform by a very wide margin any active gain stage in that price range. in my system it has outperformed ALL active gain stages regardless of price.
my top choice among passives is the Placette RVC or Line Stage......depending on whether you need input switching.
sometimes an active gain stage pre can 'fix' things in your system by adding ease, weight or body. if it sounds better then it is better.
good luck with your decision.
If you have a high input impedence amp say above 10-20Kohms(not considerd high) try the FT Audio LW-1 for $500. some say it's not till you get into $3500 Active Pre-Amp's that you will get enoungh quality to be adequate.
Get a Low Capacitance Cable. You can use a Canare LV77 cable to get buy untill you find something better. They are something like $20.
I think the clarity and Transparency are the things I like most about using a Passive. I was using a Rotel Pre intil getting the LW-1 and it outshone the Rotel in every department!
amplifier consists of input circuit, driving circuit and output circuit.
a part of amplifier that consists of input circuit, a number of inputs and output is called preamplifier.
many amplifiers are basically built as whole i.e. preamp is included and only having one set of input at a time and one set of output. these amps realy need no preamplification and need only a volume controll and input selector wich is called passive preamplifier that has unity maximum gain or 0dB.
along with passive preamps there are also electronic volume controlls that have buffered voltage regulators with stable output impedance and also unity gain that do have advantages over less sophisticated resistive circuit.
most of line sources especially CD players have enough output voltage to drive even low sencitivity amplifier to clipping but for the analogue setups even after phono preamplification or for the tape decks and tuners the sencitivity of amplifier might not suffice and positive gain might be neccessary.