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What Are the Components of a Whole Home Audio Chain?

What Are the Components of a Whole Home Audio Chain?

Make Sure Your System Sounds Great From Source to Speaker

Sometimes, when you hear a custom electronics professional talk about the whole home audio system in your Springfield, IL property, they’ll mention the chain. The concept is simple: each of the components in your audio distribution system represents a different link in the chain. And while some parts are obvious, like the speakers, others may be less so. In this blog, we’ll explore what it means to have a proper audio chain and therefore you’ll know some of the terminology surrounding yours. Read on to learn more.

See Also: A Beginner’s Guide to Whole Home Audio


The source is any device that generates the initial signal. Most commonly as part of your whole home audio system, this is a record player, CD player or tuner. However, there are plenty of occasions when that’s not the case. If you have an iPod dock, your iPod can be the source. If you want to stream music, you could very well use a computer or smartphone. The source isn’t limited to a single device, but the music quality can be effected if the source isn’t capable of handling certain formats, like lossless audio.


Modern AV receivers have largely replaced the need for the next two components, but many professional in the audio industry still swear by them because it allows them more versatility and customizability. The first component is the pre-amp. Essentially, the pre-amp prepares the signal from the source to go on to do bigger and better things. Think of it this way: the source produces a sound, but it’s not very powerful. However, the small sound that it produces can generate distortion and other imperfections that will just sound worse once the signal gets down the chain. A pre-amp helps minimize these distortions and makes the signal sound better as it moves into the power amplifier.

Power Amplifier

So you’ve probably guessed what this device does: it makes your signal louder. Like the pre-amp, this device has mostly been replaced by the single-unit AV receiver. But custom, professional-quality systems will still use multiple components. The power amp blasts the signal to the speakers, which are the last link in the chain. The power amp’s job is to make the signal stronger without favoring any harmonics over others, thereby creating an even sound for your ears.


While wireless systems are growing in popularity, hardwired systems are still your best bet for a clear, reliable signal. So if you’re investing in a hardwired system, you’ll want to make sure that they can handle all of the different signals you send through them. Cheap copper wire may handle analog and some digital signals with ease, like records and CDs, but may not do great with lossless audio files – especially over long distances. Both fiber optic cables and the copper-based HD Base T offer high bandwidth over large amounts of space.


Lastly, you have the speakers. While these are often the first part most new system owners look at, they are also the most subjective in terms of performance. Speaker sounds are often effected by the room, the placement and in large part the listener. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should just rely on any old cheap set of speakers. Rather, let your integrator guide you through real-world audio tests so you can get a sense of what performs best in your space.   Are you interested in learning more about how your whole home audio system works? Contact the experts at Liaison Homes for more information!