Importance of Amplifier versus Preamp?

New in the field. I am wondering what is most important: a great amplifier with a good preamplifier, or a good amp, with a great preamplifier? Or should I look at a good amp with a great do certain brands make amplifier to go with preamplifier and receivers?
Thank you kindly.
Interesting how much emphasis you guys are putting on Preamps. I always thought that the Amp was more important, but at the same time my system didn't sound right until I got a Lightspeed Attenuator.

I like the idea of only shelling out $500 for a Preamp that in my opinion just let the signal through with no coloration and not really lacking anything either. For someone like me it also opens up more $ for other things, usually amp.

I figured good source, going into a good dac, into a lightspeed, a good amp matched correctly to speakers, room treatments and you're good to go. Adding a $3000 preamp would increase my total system cost by 33%...

I don't get why preamps have to have source selections on them either. Seems like a waste for someone who is just going to be switch sources on an external dac anyways.

Interesting and very informative thread. Even though I have heard all this before, for some reason it clicked for me this time.

Someone made the point that you can achieve better results matching different manufacturers amp and preamp because one company excels in pre's and the other in amps; I like this idea and believe it to be true also,

Next question for me is what is lost using a Lightspeed vs a $3000 pre amp, and, what are the most loved pre amps by you guys? Tube?
My angle on this is that any quality combination of preamp and amp can potentially sound good if the 'tweaking' is performed with patience and perseverance. I believe we are in the 'golden age' of tweaking with so many solid choices.
I will even go out on a limb by saying that a system with the right isolation devices, room correction treatment, electrical conditioning, etc. will almost always sound better than another system thrown together at twice or maybe even three times the price. I think that in a sense, this thread is missing the point on where the $$ should be spent.
They are equally important .Your sound will only be as good as your weakest link.IMHO Of course!
01-26-15: Wlutke
"Your amp can't sound any better than what the preamp gives it."

Almarg -
"This is true. But it is also true that the preamp can't sound any better than the amp allows it to. So the location of a given component in the chain is in itself of no significance, IMO."

-- Al


I agree. In the big picture, the weakest link is the weakest link, regardless.
However, signal error and noise in the preamp are facing downstream amplification. Better to rid the system of the error before it gets magnified in my experience.