If your CD source has no volume control of its own, you'll need one--but it could be just a volume control, along with connectors for cables in and out of it. This is called a passive preamp, and debates rage--well, simmer, at least--over whether passives provide better sound than active preamps. My opinion, based on experience with highly regarded actives, is that if your CD output is up to it, as it will be in a good (but probably not in a mass market) CD player, you'll be better off with a passive. And you'll be able to save a lot of money--which, as a good audiophile, neophyte or not, you'll promptly spend on some other part of your system. If you want details on a DIY passive better than almost any nonDIY one, please contact me through Member Lookup. Or look at the DIY section of www.goldpt.com for the hardware and a schematic for a more complex passive than you're likely to need. Or both. Good luck!