If you’re new to the world of turntables, you may be wondering what a preamp is and whether or not your turntable has one.
The answer can be a bit confusing, as some turntables come with a built-in preamp while others do not. But fear not, we’re here to help you figure it out!
In this article, we’ll explain what a preamp is, how to tell if your turntable has one, and what to do if it doesn’t.
So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of turntable preamps!
How Do I Know If My Turntable Has A Preamp
The easiest way to tell if your turntable has a preamp is to look for a PHONO/LINE switch on the back of the turntable. If your turntable has this switch, it means that it has a built-in preamp. To activate the preamp, you need to set the switch to LINE. If the switch is set to PHONO, then the built-in preamp is bypassed.
Another way to tell if your turntable has a preamp is to check the specifications of the turntable. If it says “phono input,” then the turntable has a built-in preamp.
If your turntable does not have a built-in preamp, you can still use it with your audio system by purchasing an external preamp. To do this, you will need a set of cables (usually RCA cables) to connect the preamp to your audio system.
It’s important to note that some older amplifiers and stereo systems also have preamps built-in. Look for inputs marked PHONO on these systems.
What Is A Preamp?
A preamp, short for “preamplifier,” is a device that amplifies a low-level signal from a source, such as a turntable, to a level that can be processed by an amplifier or receiver. Preamps are designed to boost the signal from a turntable’s cartridge, which produces a very low-level signal known as a PHONO signal. Without a preamp, the music from a turntable would sound strange and have no bass.
Preamps come in a wide range of build and sound quality. The cheapest preamp can cost less than $50, while the most expensive can cost over $500. Some turntables have preamps built-in, while others require an external preamp. DJ mixers also function as preamps. If your turntable has a USB output, it likely has a built-in preamp.
It’s important to note that not all amplifiers and receivers have built-in phono preamps. If your audio system does not have a phono input, you will need to purchase an external preamp to use with your turntable.
Turntables With Built-in Preamps
Turntables with built-in preamps are becoming more common in the market. These turntables are designed to output a LINE LEVEL signal, which is the same as other music sources like CD players, DVD players, and analog outputs on computers and digital streamers. This means that you can connect these turntables directly to your audio system without the need for an external preamp.
To determine if your turntable has a built-in preamp, look for a PHONO/LINE switch on the back of the turntable. If your turntable has this switch, it means that it has a built-in preamp. To activate the preamp, you need to set the switch to LINE. If the switch is set to PHONO, then the built-in preamp is bypassed.
Another way to tell if your turntable has a built-in preamp is to check the specifications of the turntable. If it says “phono input,” then the turntable has a built-in preamp.
It’s important to note that turntables with built-in preamps may not have the same quality as external preamps. However, they are convenient and can provide a better listening experience than some entry-level options.
If you already have an integrated amp or receiver with a phono preamp, you can try out both options as many record players will allow you to bypass the internal preamp.
Turntables Without Built-in Preamps
If your turntable does not have a built-in preamp, it will output a signal that has a very low signal level, reduced bass, and enhanced treble. This is known as a PHONO signal. If you connect a turntable without a preamp to a regular analog input on a stereo receiver or Hi-Fi system, the music will sound strange with no bass and very low music volume. So low that you almost can’t hear the music.
In this case, you will need to purchase an external preamp for your turntable, also known as a phono preamp. The preamp will boost the PHONO signal to a LINE LEVEL signal, which is the same as other music sources like CD players, DVD players, and analog outputs on computers and digital streamers.
When choosing an external preamp, it’s important to note that there is a wide range when it comes to build and sound quality. The cheapest preamp costs less than $50, while the most expensive can cost over $500. It’s also important to make sure that the preamp you choose is compatible with your turntable and audio system.
To connect the external preamp to your turntable and audio system, you will need a set of cables (usually RCA cables). Make sure to connect the output of the preamp to an input labeled LINE on your audio system. Never connect a phono preamp output to jacks labeled OUTPUT, SUBWOOFER, ZONE 2, MULT-CHANNEL INPUT, or PREOUT.
What To Do If Your Turntable Doesn’t Have A Preamp
If your turntable doesn’t have a built-in preamp, don’t worry! You can still enjoy your vinyl records by using an external preamp. One popular option is the ifi Audio Zen Phono, which is a standalone preamp that connects between your turntable and your amplifier or powered speakers.
Another option is to use a receiver with a preamp built-in. This can be a more cost-effective solution if you already have a receiver or amplifier with PHONO inputs. Simply connect your turntable to the PHONO input on the receiver and you’re good to go.
If you’re unsure about which preamp to choose or how to set it up, don’t hesitate to seek advice from experts in the field. You can reach out to audio equipment retailers or online forums for recommendations and guidance.
Remember, a preamp is essential for playing vinyl records, so make sure you have one in your setup. With the right preamp, you can enjoy the warm, rich sound of vinyl records on your audio system.