Are you confused about the difference between aux and phono inputs?
You’re not alone. With so many different audio inputs available, it can be difficult to know which one to use for your specific needs.
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between aux and phono inputs, and help you understand which one is right for your audio setup.
Whether you’re a seasoned audiophile or just starting out, this guide will provide you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions about your audio equipment.
So, let’s dive in and explore the world of audio inputs!
Are Aux Inputs The Same As Phono Inputs
The short answer is no, aux inputs are not the same as phono inputs.
While both types of inputs are used to connect audio devices to a receiver or amplifier, they serve different purposes.
Aux inputs are designed to receive high-level audio signals, such as those from a CD player or a smartphone. They do not have built-in amplification or equalization, and the signal they receive is already at line level.
On the other hand, phono inputs are specifically designed to receive weak signals from a turntable’s phono cartridge. These signals need more amplification and equalization to be brought up to line level, and that’s what the phono stage does.
In fact, turntables need a special preamp in order to work properly. The phono input has this preamp built-in, which is why you can only plug a record player into a phono input.
If you don’t have a phono input on your receiver or amplifier, you can get an outboard “phono preamp” to plug between the turntable and the receiver.
It’s important to note that you cannot use a phono input as an aux input. Phono inputs have internal equalization while aux inputs are clean inputs. Additionally, the output of a phono input is 2.5mV while an aux input is only 1V.
Understanding Aux Inputs
Aux inputs, also known as auxiliary inputs, are additional audio inputs on a receiver or amplifier that allow you to connect external devices such as CD players, smartphones, or MP3 players. The term “auxiliary” simply means an additional audio input method.
Unlike phono inputs, aux inputs are designed to receive high-level audio signals that are already at line level. This means that they do not require built-in amplification or equalization.
The most common type of aux input is the 3.5mm jack, which is the same type of connector that you see on headphones. When you see “aux input” listed as a feature on a receiver or amplifier, it means it is a jack that you can hook directly into the headphone jack on your phone or any other audio source with a male-to-male 3.5mm TRRS cable.
It’s important to note that the term “AUX” does not clarify exactly which cable to use. It merely describes the purpose of this connection, not whether it is a jack or RCA connection. The most common AUX cable is the RCA connector – one red and one either white or black for the two stereo channels. To connect your iPod to it, you need a simple 3.5 mm jack to stereo RCA cable.
One of the main benefits of using an aux input is that it can be used with basically any audio device. Regardless of whether you have an iPhone, an Android phone, or even a decades-old Walkman, you will be able to use it with the aux input so long as the device supports it.
The main disadvantage of using an auxiliary input is that it may not provide the best sound quality when compared to other types of inputs such as phono inputs. This is because when you use an auxiliary cable with a portable music player like an iPhone, the phone hardware has to do all the heavy lifting. The iPhone processes the digital music files that you have stored on it and transmits the resulting audio signal via the headphone jack to the aux input in the receiver or amplifier.
What Are Phono Inputs?
Phono inputs are audio inputs that are specifically designed to receive the low-level signal output from a turntable’s phono cartridge. These signals are far weaker than those from other audio sources, such as CD players or smartphones.
Phono inputs come with built-in amplification and equalization, which is necessary to boost and balance the signal from a turntable’s phono cartridge. This is because the phono cartridge has a much lower output level and a different frequency response compared to other audio sources.
During recording, vinyl records are created with higher frequencies increased and lower frequencies reduced. However, during playback, the frequency response is reversed to reduce audible background noise. A phono input accepts these signals and applies the necessary equalization to recreate the original sound.
Phono inputs can be found on preamplifiers, amplifiers, or stereo receivers. Most A/V receivers also have this type of input to increase the number of sound options available.
If your turntable is switchable to a line output, it has a built-in phono preamp and you have the option to go straight to an input labeled “line” or “aux” on your amplifier or receiver. However, if your receiver or amplifier does not have a phono input, you will need an outboard “phono preamp” to plug between the turntable and the receiver.
The Differences Between Aux And Phono Inputs
There are several key differences between aux and phono inputs.
Firstly, aux inputs are designed to receive high-level audio signals, while phono inputs are specifically designed to receive weak signals from a turntable’s phono cartridge. This means that aux inputs do not have built-in amplification or equalization, and the signal they receive is already at line level. In contrast, phono inputs come with built-in amplification and EQ for boosting and coloring these weak signals.
Secondly, turntables need a special preamp in order to work properly. The phono input has this preamp built-in, which is why you can only plug a record player into a phono input. If you try to plug a turntable into an aux input, the sound will be very trebly and distorted.
Thirdly, it’s important to note that you cannot use a phono input as an aux input. Phono inputs have internal equalization while aux inputs are clean inputs. Additionally, the output of a phono input is 2.5mV while an aux input is only 1V.
When To Use Aux Inputs
Aux inputs are best used for connecting high-level audio sources, such as CD players, smartphones, and MP3 players. They are ideal for devices that already have a built-in amplifier and do not require any additional amplification.
If you want to quickly and easily connect your computer or any other device that has a headphone jack, it’s also best to use the AUX input. The most common type of aux input is the 3.5mm jack, which is the same type of connector used on headphones.
Another benefit of using aux inputs is that they can be used with basically any audio device, regardless of whether you have an iPhone, Android phone, or even a decades-old Walkman. This makes them a versatile option for connecting different types of audio equipment.
However, it’s important to note that aux inputs are not suitable for connecting turntables or other devices that require phono inputs. As mentioned earlier, phono inputs have built-in equalization and amplification specifically designed for turntables’ weak signals.
When To Use Phono Inputs
Phono inputs should only be used when connecting a turntable to a receiver or amplifier. This is because the signal from a turntable’s phono cartridge is much weaker than other audio sources, such as CD players or smartphones.
The phono stage in the receiver or amplifier amplifies and equalizes the signal so that it can be played back at line level. Using an aux input for a turntable will result in a weak and distorted sound, as the signal will not be properly amplified or equalized.
If you have a turntable with a built-in preamp, you can use an aux input instead of a phono input. However, this will not provide the same level of amplification and equalization as a phono input.
Compatibility Issues To Consider
When it comes to using turntables and connecting them to receivers or amplifiers, there are some compatibility issues to consider. The first thing to check is whether your electronics have phono inputs. If they do, you can simply plug your turntable into these inputs and you won’t need a separate phono preamp. However, if your electronics don’t have phono inputs, you will need to purchase a phono preamp to connect between the turntable and the receiver.
Another compatibility issue to consider is the type of phono cartridge that is mounted in the tone arm of your turntable. If you find that the volume control is raised and the music is playing very loud with just a small turn, or if you need to turn the volume knob almost all the way up to hear any music, there may be a compatibility problem between the cartridge and the phono inputs on your amp. In this case, check if there is a switch on the back of your amp that has two positions – mm or mc. This refers to the type of phono cartridge, and trying both positions can help you select the one that gives you the best results with proper volume range control.
It’s also important to note that some lower cost turntables come with built-in phono preamps and may have a USB output jack as well. While these turntables can connect directly to aux input jacks on your amplifier, they generally offer low sonic performance and may not be gentle on your valuable record collection.
In summary, if you want to use a turntable with your receiver or amplifier, make sure to check for compatibility issues such as whether your electronics have phono inputs or if you need a separate phono preamp. Additionally, pay attention to the type of phono cartridge in your turntable and any switches on your amp that can help with compatibility issues. By doing so, you can ensure that you get the best sound quality from your turntable setup.