In last month’s article, we had a bird’s eye view of the components that deliver an audio signal and power to speakers. We discussed a “chain” of equipment, starting with sources like Blu-ray or CD players that connect to a preamp where the signal is processed, then to an amp that boosts the signal that finally goes to the speakers.

Also mentioned was the fact that equipment selection has a significant impact on the quality of the audio reproduced by your speakers.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the components that can go into making an audio system that will give you a listening experience a cut above the rest.

At CEDIA’s 2014 expo, Classé, manufacturers of high-performance music and theater components, unveiled new entry-level preamps and amps, their Sigma line of products.

First up, let’s look at the Sigma SSP. Not only an affordable audiophile quality preamp, the SSP is also unique in several aspects. Capable of handling video and 7.1 surround sound, it is, in addition, optimized for two-channel stereo, allowing flexibility in configuration without sacrificing audio quality.

Included are HDMI switching, multi-channel processing, bass management, and a wide variety of inputs such as USB, Ethernet, coax, and optical.

Performance-oriented elements feature a digital domain tone/tilt control, but perhaps one of this preamp’s most unique features is the nine-band per channel parametric equalizer which greatly improves listening by countering the negative acoustic effects of hard surfaces like wood, stone and glass.

And what amp could better compliment the Classé Sigma SSP than a Classé Sigma AMP2 or AMP5?

The Sigma AMP2 is two-channel, 200 watts per channel amplifier that delivers clean and stable power while being both compact and efficient, demonstrating low heat dissipation and a relatively small size.

Providing wide dynamic range, smooth and extended frequency response and rich harmonic detail, the AMP2 easily exceeds performance levels of other amps in a similar price range.

The Sigma AMP5 is very much like the AMP2, but with the necessary part and layout changes to accommodate its five-channel architecture.

As mentioned in last month’s article, the number of speakers being fed power by the amp determines the number of amp outputs (or channels) you will require in your system.

For example, in a two-speaker stereo system, a two-channel amp such as the AMP2 will do the job. In a 5.1 surround sound system, something like the AMP5 will be needed to send power to the five speakers. More than five speakers, and these can be combined; a 7.1 surround sound could be powered by an AMP2 and AMP5 working in tandem.

The options and varying configurations available in amp and preamp setups can be dizzying, so how do you choose?

I recommend you stop in at your local A/V showroom and discuss your ideal solution with an expert.

This can make the difference between an arduous and an enjoyable decision-making process.

Carlos Ramos is the sales and marketing manager with Custom Audio Video in Bluffton.