If you’re a vinyl enthusiast, you know that a phono preamp is an essential component for getting the best sound out of your turntable.
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your existing setup or just starting out, finding the right phono preamp can be a daunting task.
With so many options available, it can be hard to know where to start. But fear not! In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about phono preamps and where to buy them.
From standalone analog devices to those with extensive control over parameters, we’ll help you find the perfect phono preamp for your needs.
So sit back, relax, and get ready to take your vinyl listening experience to the next level!
Where Can I Buy A Phono Preamp
Now that you know how important a phono preamp is for your turntable setup, the next question is where to buy one.
There are several options available, both online and in-store. Let’s take a look at some of the best places to buy a phono preamp.
What Is A Phono Preamp?
A phono preamp, also known as a phono stage, is a device that connects between your turntable and amplifier. It’s an essential component for any vinyl enthusiast because it amplifies the low-level signal produced by the turntable’s cartridge and applies the RIAA equalization curve to restore the original sound quality of the music. Without a phono preamp, your vinyl records will sound dull and lifeless.
Now that you understand what a phono preamp is and why it’s important, let’s explore some of the best places to buy one.
Why Do You Need A Phono Preamp?
Before we dive into where to buy a phono preamp, let’s discuss why you need one in the first place. A phono preamp, also known as a phono stage, is an essential component for any turntable setup. It serves the primary function of amplifying the signal from your turntable to a level that can be played properly through your sound system.
Without a phono preamp, the signal produced by a record cartridge is too weak to be played through standard AUX sockets. The nominal output level from a phono cartridge is 1 mV (0.001 V), while the AUX input on your stereo system requires a signal level of 100 mV (0.1V). A typical phono preamp will boost your signal by 40 – 50 dB to meet the required level.
Additionally, records are cut with the bass frequencies reduced and the high frequencies boosted. This equalization helps to permit longer recording times by keeping groove dimensions small, while also increasing sound quality and decreasing record wear. A phono preamp acts to equalize the signal in an attempt to bring it back — as close as possible — to the frequency response of the master recording.
Some turntables come with a built-in phono stage, but others require a separate preamp stage or an amplifier that includes its own. If your stereo has a phono input, then you’re already set. However, if you don’t have a phono preamp or need an upgrade, it’s important to choose one that is compatible with your turntable and sound system.
Types Of Phono Preamps
When it comes to phono preamps, there are a few different types to consider. The most common types are moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) phono preamps.
Moving magnet phono preamps are designed to work with turntables that have a moving magnet cartridge. These types of preamps are generally more affordable and easier to use than moving coil preamps. They also tend to be more forgiving of imperfect turntable setups and can work well with a wide range of cartridges.
Moving coil phono preamps, on the other hand, are designed to work with turntables that have a moving coil cartridge. These types of preamps are typically more expensive and require more precise setup and tuning than moving magnet preamps. However, they can offer superior sound quality and are often preferred by audiophiles who demand the best possible performance from their turntable setup.
Another type of phono preamp to consider is the integrated phono preamp. These are built into some turntables and amplifiers, eliminating the need for an external preamp altogether. While integrated preamps can be convenient and offer good performance, they may not offer the same level of customization and flexibility as standalone units.
Ultimately, the type of phono preamp you choose will depend on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you’re looking for a simple and affordable solution or a high-end unit with advanced features, there are plenty of options available on the market today. Just be sure to do your research and choose a reputable brand with a track record of producing quality products.
Factors To Consider When Choosing A Phono Preamp
When choosing a phono preamp, there are several factors to consider. The first consideration is the type of cartridge you have. Most phono preamps are compatible with moving magnet cartridges, but if you have a low-output moving coil cartridge, you’ll need a preamp with selectable or variable cartridge loading.
Another factor to consider is whether you prefer a solid state or tube preamp. Tube preamps generally provide a warmer, fuller sound quality, but may sacrifice neutrality. Solid state preamps, on the other hand, offer greater accuracy and precision.
The budget is also an important consideration when choosing a phono preamp. High-end models can be quite expensive, but there are also affordable options available that still offer good sound quality.
Additionally, it’s important to consider the features of the phono preamp. Some models offer multiple equalization curve choices aside from the standard RIAA curve, while others may have adjustable loading options for cartridges with unusual specifications.
When shopping for a phono preamp, it’s important to do your research and read reviews from other users. This can help you find a model that meets your specific needs and preferences.
Some recommended phono preamps include the Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 and the Jolida JD9 SE1 for tube preamps, and the Bryston BP-2 MM/MC Phono Preamp and Gold Note PH-10 for solid state preamps.
You can find phono preamps at many audio equipment retailers both online and in-store, including Amazon, Best Buy, and specialty audio stores like Audio Advice and Music Direct.
Conclusion: Finding The Right Phono Preamp For You
When it comes to finding the right phono preamp for you, there are a few things to consider. First, determine what type of cartridge you have or plan to purchase. If you have a moving magnet cartridge, most phono preamps will be compatible. However, if you have a low-output moving coil cartridge, you will need a preamp with selectable or variable cartridge loading.
Next, consider your budget. If you are just starting out and looking for an affordable option, the Pyle Phono Turntable Preamp PP444 is a great choice. It may not have all the warmth and grunt of higher-end models, but it will perform well compared to built-in phono stages on affordable turntables and amplifiers.
If you are serious about vinyl and looking for the best sound quality possible, investing in a higher-end phono preamp may be worth it. Graham Slee phono preamps are known for their quality and attention to detail, as each one is made to order by experienced craftsmen in England.
No matter what your needs or budget may be, there are plenty of options available both online and in-store. Do your research and find the right phono preamp for your turntable setup to truly enhance your listening experience.