Are you a vinyl enthusiast looking to get the best sound from your turntable and integrated amp setup?
You may be wondering if you need a phono preamp to enhance your listening experience.
While some integrated amps have built-in phono preamps, they may not always provide the best quality output.
In this article, we’ll explore whether or not you need a phono preamp with an integrated amp, and how to get the most out of your vinyl setup.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of phono preamps and integrated amps.
Do I Need A Phono Preamp With An Integrated Amp
The short answer is, it depends. If your integrated amp has a built-in phono preamp and your turntable has a built-in preamp, then you may not need an external phono preamp. However, if either of these components does not have a preamp, then you will need to purchase an external phono preamp to ensure the best sound quality.
It’s important to note that even if your integrated amp has a built-in phono preamp, it may not provide the best quality output. External phono preamps are often of higher quality and can result in better sound overall.
Additionally, if you have a specific sound or EQ that you desire, a separate phono preamp may be necessary to achieve that desired sound.
It’s also worth considering the noise level when using an external phono preamp with an integrated amp. Adding a preamp can sometimes add noise to the system, so it’s important to choose a high-quality preamp and connect it properly to minimize any potential noise issues.
What Is A Phono Preamp?
A phono preamp, also known as a phono stage, is an essential component in any vinyl setup. Its primary function is to provide standard equalization, correcting any sonic imbalances that may have occurred during the manufacturing process. Additionally, it boosts the weak signal from your turntable’s cartridge to a level that allows you to connect it to your stereo via standard AUX sockets.
Without a phono preamp, the sound produced from your turntable would be very reedy, thin, and extremely quiet. Some turntables come with a built-in phono stage, while others do not. If your turntable does not have a built-in preamp, and your amp or receiver does not have an input labeled “phono,” then you will need to purchase an external phono preamp.
It’s worth noting that not all phono preamps are created equal. External phono preamps are often of higher quality than built-in ones, and can result in better sound overall. Additionally, if you have a specific sound or EQ that you desire, a separate phono preamp may be necessary to achieve that desired sound.
How Does An Integrated Amp Work?
An integrated amp is a combination of a preamp and a power amp in one unit. The preamp section takes the audio signal from the source, such as a turntable or CD player, and amplifies it to a level that can be further amplified by the power amp section. The power amp section then takes the amplified signal and sends it to the speakers.
Some integrated amps also have a built-in phono preamp, which allows you to connect a turntable directly to the unit without needing an external phono preamp. However, as mentioned earlier, the built-in phono preamp may not provide the best sound quality, and an external phono preamp may be necessary for optimal performance.
When using an external preamp with an integrated amp, it’s important to bypass the preamp section of the integrated amp to avoid distortion and noise issues. This can usually be done by using an insert switch or connecting the output of the external preamp to the main input of the integrated amp.
Pros And Cons Of Using A Built-In Phono Preamp
Built-in phono preamps have the advantage of convenience and cost-effectiveness. They are built into the turntable or record player, which means you don’t have to purchase an external preamp separately. This can save you money and space, as you won’t need to invest in additional equipment or a larger stand to accommodate it.
Another benefit of built-in preamps is that they provide immediate playability. You can start playing records right away, assuming you have a player with speakers. This is great for those who just want to enjoy their vinyl collection without any fuss.
However, built-in preamps tend to be of lower quality than external preamps. This is because they are made with smaller and cheaper components, which can result in reduced audio quality. If you have a keen ear for sound, you may notice the difference between a cheap and a higher-quality preamp.
Built-in preamps also have a tendency to pick up extra noise, which can be distracting when listening to music. This is because they are located close to other components within the turntable or record player, which can cause interference.
Benefits Of Using An External Phono Preamp
There are several benefits to using an external phono preamp with your turntable. First and foremost, an external preamp can provide better sound quality than the internal preamp in your turntable or integrated amp. This is because external preamps are built to do one thing: be a preamp. They are designed with high-quality electrical components and better shielding from interference, resulting in less noise and distortion and overall better sound quality.
Secondly, an external preamp can provide more power and boost the signal strength, resulting in a cleaner, louder sound. This is particularly useful for those with lower output cartridges or for those who want to play their music at higher volumes without sacrificing sound quality.
Thirdly, an external preamp can provide more flexibility and customization options than an internal preamp. With an external preamp, you have greater control over the sound quality of your music. You can adjust the gain, EQ settings, and even experiment with different cartridges to find the perfect sound for your preferences.
Finally, an external preamp can be used with any type of turntable, regardless of the make or model. This gives you more options when it comes to upgrading your system in the future. You can easily switch out your turntable without worrying about compatibility issues with your preamp.
How To Choose The Right Phono Preamp For Your Integrated Amp
When choosing a phono preamp for your integrated amp, there are several factors to consider.
First, consider the type of cartridge you have. Moving magnet cartridges have a high output voltage and require less gain than moving coil cartridges. If you have a moving magnet cartridge, look for a preamp with a lower gain setting, around 40 dB. For moving coil cartridges with lower output voltage, look for a preamp with a higher gain setting, around 60 dB or more.
Next, consider the sound quality you are looking for. Some phono preamps feature tubes, which can provide a warmer and fuller sound but may sacrifice neutrality. If you prefer this type of sound, look for a preamp with tubes. However, if you prioritize neutrality and precision in your sound, look for a solid-state phono preamp.
It’s also important to consider the level of control you need from your preamp. Some preamps may not allow you to adjust the output level or switch equalizations, so make sure to choose one that meets your needs.
Finally, consider your budget. More expensive preamps generally offer better sound quality, but there are also affordable options available. It’s important to choose a preamp that allows you to make the most of your turntable’s sound quality without breaking the bank.
Overall, when choosing a phono preamp for your integrated amp, consider the type of cartridge you have, the sound quality you desire, the level of control you need, and your budget. By taking these factors into account, you can choose a phono preamp that will enhance your listening experience and provide the best possible sound quality.