Just what kind of preamplifier section does an integrated amp have?

Is the preamplifier section of an integrated amp really good: active or passive? Or is it just a simple circuit to control the volume of the unit and then call it integrated so that it can be sold at a much higher price than a simple power amp? Any comments? 

Your questions are too generalized to give you any one answer.  So much depends on the integrated amp.

For example, there are integrateds with very good preamp sections that can better some separates.  And vise versa.  While most preamp sections are active, there are some with passive preamps too. The Creek 5350 comes to mind.  Finally there are a lot of power amps that cost way more than even a top class integrated.

So again, it all depends on the component being discussed.  It would help to know why your are asking.

Thanks for your response paraneer I was just wondering about the sonic quality of the preamp section of integrated amps.
I think as paraneer stated, you can not just lump all integrated amps together and judge the sonic quality of their preamp section. Some integrated amps have very good preamp sections, some integrated amps have not so good preamp sections. Just as you cannot judge the sonic quality of the DAC section for all CDP’s. Some CDP’s have good DAC’s, some CDP’s have not so good DAC’s.
You cannot judge the sonic qualities of a speaker based on whether it is a single driver, 2 way, 3 way, or 4 way design.

If you had a particular model in mind, perhaps you could get an opinion of the preamp section of that particular integrated amp.
Well, actually I compared the sound quality (the preamp section) of a Benchmark DAC1 USB driving directly a pair o Rotel 1091 monoblocks versus using a little Axiom passive atenuator. I do prefer by a wide margin the sound using the Axiom!

You may been "bit stripping" with the Benchmark digital domain VC if it wasn’t used at or above 75% of full output. It should have sounded better direct than the Axiom if it was used like this.

Many hi-end tube and more s/s integrated amps have passive preamps, just volume pot and input selector switch, then it’s straight to the poweramp input section.

As sources today have 2v or more output, which can clip most poweramps, which most  just need 1 -2v for full input sensitivity, so there’s no need for active preamp stages.

Cheers George

A Quote from the master Nelson Pass

Nelson Pass,

We’ve got lots of gain in our electronics. More gain than some of us need or want. At least 10 db more.

Think of it this way: If you are running your volume control down around 9 o’clock, you are actually throwing away signal level so that a subsequent gain stage can make it back up.

Routinely DIYers opt to make themselves a “passive preamp” - just an input selector and a volume control.

What could be better? Hardly any noise or distortion added by these simple passive parts. No feedback, no worrying about what type of capacitors – just musical perfection.

And yet there are guys out there who don’t care for the result. “It sucks the life out of the music”, is a commonly heard refrain (really - I’m being serious here!). Maybe they are reacting psychologically to the need to turn the volume control up compared to an active preamp.

I know that Creek integrated amps have passive preamp section. Most of them are very "British" and polite just like many polite drivers prefer to let everyone go and stay behind for reason or no reason. I like a-bit different attitude tho -- stepping when necessary and stopping when necessary.