Do I need a Preamplifier


I am a novice in Home Audio setting up. I recently purchased a HK3480 Stereo Receiver, and Two Klipsch SB2 speakers to rig up my home audio setup. My CD Player is a cheap cyberhome entry level DVD player. I, like most of us have lots of digital music. It is stored on my computer, as well as on my MP3 Player (Creative Zen 30GB). I use a headphone Jack to RCA cable to hook up my MP3 player to my receiver. It sounds pretty good except for the fact that I need to crank up the colume to -25db to get good output. Also when playing from CD (Whose gain is set to max) I need to set the volume levels to -35db.

I would like to know whether I need to buy a preamp for this kind of setup.

Receiver=amp, preamp, tuner
Integrated Amp=amp and preamp only
Preamp=audio switching with either active or passive volume control
Phono Preamp=increases very weak signal from phono cartridge to usable voltage for a preamp to further amplify

Check the volume setting on your MP3 player. When You are dealing wiht multiple gain stages (volume on MP3 player, volume on receiver) you can get teh two out of whack easily. The numbers displayed on the receiver mean little. This is a number relative to unity gain in some gear and a number relative to nothing in others. The slope of the volume control is different from component to component.

Good luck!
Your receiver already has a preamp (preamp, amp and tuner make up a receiver).
First - check the volume on your MP3 player - my kids have to max theirs out to get decent gain to play through an audio system. If the MP3 won't go louder, either resign youself to using a louder volume level, or get another one with more output.
The MP3 player probably has a low output. Try plugging the MP3 player into the MM phono inputs on your reciever/ or better yet "tape-HEAD" inputs on your receiver, if available. The standard "tape" input is a "high level input" so that choice would probably result in the same outcome you are already experiencing. Plugging into the MM phono stage or another low level input (such as tape HEAD) would probably give you the gain you want.

Very informative inputs. I do get good results by increasing the volume. I have a bad feeling of setting the output volume to max on the MP3 player. Neverthless I am doing that. Music quality is excellent i n my standards.

I tried with Phono inputs. That seems to put the preamplification to a different gear alltogether. However, my ears feels that the bass is a too high when I am routing the music through Phono. I need to do some more listening to see whether it is just an illusion. If you all, my learnt friends know of anything in this direction please let me know.

Also, I see some devices which can amplify a headphone jack output to line level. Do they work ?

Bonigv - Bring the output on your MP3 volume up until you hear distortion (if you do). You're better off amplifying that output than getting all the excess noise by trying hard to amplify a smaller signal (volume turned down).
DO NOT use the phono input for two reasons.
First the gain in that input will be absurd, and you'll overload the amp input, distorting quickly.
Second, the phono input uses the RIAA equalization curve for vinyl, so your input to the amp section will really be screwed up with all kinds of EQ you don't want.

By amplifying you mean using a preamp before I feed into Receiver ?

Any comments on Boostaroo Portable Headphone Amplifier.

No - see the first two posts - you already have a preamp in your receiver. Bignerd did a good job of describing the combinations and permutations of receivers, amps, etc.
The preamp is where the signal goes in on your receiver, and the manipulation of the signal happens - tone controls, balance etc. That output is then fed to the amplifier.
What I'm trying to say is to turn up the signal from the MP3 player to the point just before distorting (if it does distort - it may not). Use the loudest signal from the MP3 to feed through the preamp and into the amp.
The reason for this is that you then have the loudest signal possible going into the preamp which means that you amplify the maximum amount of signal, and minimum amount of noise.
Good luck.
I understood what you are telling. That exactly is what my setup is currently. What I need to know is whether there is a device which can adjust the output of the headphone jack to a Line level input. That way, my receiver will not know the difference between input from headphone jack and any other line inputs.

If you max out the volume on your MP3 player, and the maximum output voltage is 2.0 volts you are safe as long as you are not getting distortion. Read the manual for the player and the receiver. If the max output voltage of the MP3 plaer is 2V and the max input voltage for the receiver is 2V you are safe. The input and output impedances are an issue as well but with an MP3 player connected to solid state receiver I would not worry.

Perhaps moving away from MP3's and towards uncompressed music is a more important concern. With huge hard drives comming down in price and software getting better you can start saving music uncompressed and simply add a new hard drive every couple of years. Music servers are still not quite there yet though Cambridge Audio has one that appears to kick ass for $$$.

Good luck!
The output from your MP3 headphone player is a line level out. As far as adjusting to match other levels, don't bother. Even high end stuff comes out in all differet levels - Maybe your receiver has a level matching feature? It would be in the setup menu, and would allow you to match the levels from all of your components (when you get them).
However, as Bignerd indicates, why bother - just use it as is for now.
I do not have a level matching functionality on my HK3840. So to summarize, I will reisgn to jacking up the volume, when I have to connect my MP3 player to the receiver.

Thank you for all the help.