Many of us love to listen to 80's and 90's music. What a classic era it was! In early times, we had cassettes, vinyl, turntables, bulky radios to listen to music. Now we have so many upgraded and modern devices like MP3 players, DVD players, CD players, Bluetooth speakers, Subwoofers, etc.
But to feel the vibe of that vintage era, some still prefer to have music gizmos like turntables and record players over modern devices. Many of these have good in-built sound systems too. But if you are into details and bass, then you need an external amplifier like Phono Preamps.
Phono preamps amplify low-level input signals into amplified line sound output and are mainly used with turntables to increase their output signal strength. There are stereo receivers for turntables with an inbuilt preamp that are compatible with modern gadgets like laptops, PC and iPad. Some turntables have in-built phono preamps, but if they don’t have one or you want to upgrade the sound quality, a phono preamp is a solid option.
However, you will get a wide range of models in the market, and sometimes it becomes tough to choose the best one. By going through this guide, you will get to know what you should look for while choosing the best phono preamp for you.
Table Of Contents
- BEST PHONO PREAMPS REVIEW
- 1. ART DJPRE II - BEST PHONO PREAMP FOR THE MONEY
- 2) PYLE PP555 - BEST BUDGET PHONO PREAMP
- 3) PRO-JECT FBA_13072 - BEST EXTERNAL PHONO PREAMP
- 4) SCHIIT MANI PHONO PREAMP(SCH-18-FA)
- 5) SUCA-AUDIO P4 - BEST TUBE PHONO PREAMP
- 6) PUFFIN PHONO DSP PHONO PREAMP
- 7) DYNASTY PRO AUDIO PHONO PREAMP
- 8) IFI PHONO PREAMP
- HOW TO CHOOSE THE IDEAL PHONO PREAMP FOR YOUR TURNTABLE?
BEST PHONO PREAMPS REVIEW
1. ART DJPRE II - BEST PHONO PREAMP FOR THE MONEY
With well-designed and amazing sound quality - Phono Preamp by ART DJ has always been loved by customers. This is a simple yet reliable and effective phono preamp with a bunch of features. It was designed and developed in the USA; this phono preamp acts as a perfect interface between your turntable and playback system.
You can optimize phono cartridge response by switching analog input capacitance from 100 pF to 200 pF. It offers rumble-free audio as its switchable low-cut filters that remove the turntable's rumbles to get resonance-free sound.
You can adjust the gain as per your requirement using its front gain trim control. And signal LED also fulfills multiple input source requirements. Plus, it has high accuracy circuits approved by RIAA standards.
You can use any sound card with its low impedance line output jacks. It amplifies EQ vinyl records by reproducing audio flawlessly, making it a perfect choice for workstations, home stereos, and even central monitor systems.
However, it might not be a good choice for orchestral music. You might feel unnatural while listening to something with multiple musical instruments because it takes time to send signals to the clipping zone. But you don’t have to pay attention to it once the setup is done. With an anodized aluminum case, this is the best phono preamp on budget.
2) PYLE PP555 - BEST BUDGET PHONO PREAMP
This turntable preamp by Pyle is the best phono preamp to bring studio level output of your equipment to a suitable line level. With 3mV input sensitivity at 50K Ohms, its circuits can accommodate magnetic pickups effectively. It would be best if you found the correct position to place the preamp close to the source. So you can get a maximum power output of 2 V at 10K Ohms without unwanted noise and interference.
Compatible with a wide variety of instruments, including turntable and microphones, the Pylo phono preamp gives you a flexible voltage gain arrangement with signal source assistance.
You can adjust the gain according to the equipment you are using. Pyle PP555 has used ultra-low noise audio conditioning circuit to boost the audio levels of your different types of musical equipment. You can easily adjust the volume and recording levels using external instruments like microphones.
Just connect the turntable to RCA input of preamp and ground. Then connect the RCA output to the amplifier receiver and be ready to rock your system with high-definition amplified sound. It also works equally fine with receivers like speakers, laptops, and computers.
This phono preamp passes the time test, amplifies the sound's strength, and makes it ready for further processing. Hence this is an excellent addition for musicians and audio producers to take their audio production skills to the next level.
3) PRO-JECT FBA_13072 - BEST EXTERNAL PHONO PREAMP
Do you have a turntable with a built-in phono preamp that sounds flat and lifeless? Then it is time for you to grab this amazing piece from Pro-Ject and get a next-level experience listening to your vinyl record music.
Pro-Ject audio phono preamp with matte finish design is a straightforward and simple phono preamp. If the clean sound is your priority and treble, bass, tube warmth doesn’t matter to you a lot, and then this is the best phono preamp you can find in the market. You get fuller, more precise, and superior sound quality, especially at lower volume levels.
One of the best phono preamps if you are into soothing music. It eliminates annoying hums, pops, and clicks effectively. It works well even with expensive receivers. It looks small and compact but feels quite dense and strong to hold. Due to its small size, you can install it close to your record player to get the best out of this preamp.
As they have used high-quality materials and components, you can expect good durability from this phono preamp. The significant part is, it is compatible with most of the high-end phono cartridges. You get a rear panel with a switch to adjust MM and MC. It can boost turntable output to CD and AUX levels.
Also, you get a 2-year warranty that covers parts of this preamp. So if you are looking for an excellent performance piece at a reasonable price, you should try this preamp.
4) SCHIIT MANI PHONO PREAMP(SCH-18-FA)
Schiit phono preamp is designed for all types of cartridges. Some preamps only work with some particular moving magnet cartridges. When it comes to high output moving magnet cartridges or high output moving coil cartridges, they can’t perform well as they have high gain requirements.
Schiit Mani gives you four switchable modes, including 30 dB, 42 dB, 47 dB and 59 dB, to adjust the gain that makes it the best phono preamp for any cartridge. With 115 VAC and the USA plug, you get accurate and low noise performance. It has a passive RIAA network.
You get consistent sonic performance as there are no poles in the feedback loop. It has premium quality components like film capacitors with 2% precision, 0.5% thin-film resistors, and low noise gain stages to deliver output with rich details.
The majority of its components are made and assembled in the USA, including chassis, boards, transformers, PCBs, etc. With two years of warranty on parts and labor, this silver phono preamp is a perfect all-rounder.
5) SUCA-AUDIO P4 - BEST TUBE PHONO PREAMP
The SUCA-Audio phono preamp is specially designed for an MM phono preamp and has a 3.5 mm AUX input tube preamp. You can connect turntables as well as devices with a 3.5 mm jack to this phono preamp. Its front aux input can be used for mobile, PC, CD, tablets, and back MM input is for turntables.
The best feature of this turntable is its replaceable vacuum tubes. They are designed using warm eye-catchy colors to get high-fidelity and soft, dynamic sound. You can replace these tubes with 6K4 / 6J1 / 6J4 / GE5654 / 6AK5 / 6*1n lines to get a different sound feeling and customize the stereo system as much as you want with other tubes.
It offers switchable gains to get better control to customize and match different audio signals and enjoy multiple music genres. You can switch amongst 39dB, 42dB, and 45 dB.
Its optimal low-noise integrated circuit and high-quality power adapter ensure clear sound with no humming or buzzing. Also, its grounding post design protects the turntable from any damage caused due to rough usage.
6) PUFFIN PHONO DSP PHONO PREAMP
Puffin phono preamp by Parks Audio is specially designed for vinyl systems. It has twenty gain settings(from -4dB to 72 dB) that easily match all the carts and vinyl systems. It reduces the unnecessary pops and clicks to improve the sound quality of your LP.
You get a wide variety of tilt tone controls to adjust the sound easily and quickly. You can also adjust the bass, treble, air, and 4th order HPFs and LPF using this phono preamp. This wide tune control allows you to tweak your sound to perfection. You can listen to music through different headphones.
With impedance ranging from 32 to 300 Ohms and varying sensitivities, you don’t need to open your headphone to adjust the gain or optimize the volume. You can sort out dupes and grade the records using the grading function. It offers features like Derumble, RoomEQ, and clip detection.
You get a resonance-free crystal clear sound with this preamp. You can transfer tube (2H) and tape (3H) functions too. This is one of the best phono preamps to play your vinyl with easy usability and flexible customization.
7) DYNASTY PRO AUDIO PHONO PREAMP
DYNASTY PRO audio preamp is designed to offer a wide range of connectivity. You can connect different record players or turntables with moving magnetic cartridges as well as line audio devices like tape recorders.
You can easily transfer tracks from vinyl to your computers and laptops without any hassle of installing any additional driver. Its premium circuit, high-quality components and USB integrated audio interface amplify low noise phono preamp and line audio signal as per RIAA standards.
Just connect this preamp to the USB port of your PC and record original songs without quality loss. Features like latency-free operation, 1 kHz of sampling rate, shielded housing make it one of the best phono preamps.
8) IFI PHONO PREAMP
IFI phono preamp uses trickle-down technology to serve refreshing music to you. Its eye-pleasing aesthetics, classy build and subtle color, make it an attractive decorative phono preamp. It operates on both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges from <0.25mV to >2mV so that you get high-end performance and flexibility to use your vinyl collection.
You get a super quiet noise floor and a customizable set-up where you can adjust the gain from 36 dB to 72 dB. Its intelligent subsonic analog filter recognizes the difference between warp of vinyl record and original bass note effectively, and you get smooth low and mid-range frequency output.
If you are looking for a hassle-free music experience without unwanted background noises, then IFI is one of the best record player amps you can count on.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE IDEAL PHONO PREAMP FOR YOUR TURNTABLE?
Type of cartridge:
You must choose your phono preamp based on your vinyl turntable's cartridge. If you have a moving magnet(MM) cartridge, then make sure your preamp supports the same. Some preamps are made to be compatible with both types of cartridges, Moving coil and moving magnet cartridge in a single device. So if you want to upgrade from MC to MM cartridge, you don't need to change your preamp.
An MM phono preamp features 40dB gain, 47,000 Ohms resistive load, and 100pF capacitive load. You can adjust your capacitive load on more advanced versions.
An MC phono preamp features 58 dB of minimum gain and the possibility of adjusting a resistive load between 50 and 1000 ohms.
Naturally, the phono preamp not only helps in adding gain but also points out the correction of the RIAA curve. Also, the precision and quality of this correction justify the price of the phono preamplifier. If you want to have a much warmer and more pleasant sound character than regular solid-state amp, then we recommend you to get a phono tube pre-amplifier for your turntable.
Phono preamplifiers are available at different budget prices. You can choose one in accordance with your needs and budget. But it is necessary to define your budget before you pick the best preamp. If you have a low-end Hi-Fi cartridge, then I suggest you pick a phono amp priced between 150$ and 500$. If you want mid-range cartridges, then set a budget of $500 and $1,000, and if you have high-end phono cartridge, then setting budget over 1500$ is suggested.
Going for an external phono preamp is completely a matter of choice. However, adding one to your audio won’t make you feel regret. Some turntable already has a good built-in preamp but adding an external phono preamp definitely changes the whole vibe of listening to music.
In addition to its basic function of amplifying signals, you need to pay attention to its other features, including the gain settings, power switch availability, different input-output modes, low-noise performance, strong build, compatibility with different headphones, portability etc. Go through this guide. It will help you to pick the best phono preamp for you.
A phono preamp is also called a phono stage that helps in boosting the weak audio signal that is generated by your turntable and also works on equalizing the signal.
Usually, Vinyl records cut bass frequencies and boost high frequencies when they are made. So to restore bass and reduce the treble, a phono preamp is used.
Most of the turntables come with an inbuilt preamp, and some don't. Whether your turntables have a phono preamp or not, you can buy separate phono preamp for the following reasons:
- If there is an inbuilt preamp present in your turntable or your integrated amp, receiver, or powered speakers.
- If the phono cartridge isn't compatible with your receiver's built-in phono preamp.
- If your turntable doesn't have a built-in USB output that helps in recording your albums to your computer.
- If you want your receiver or amp's phono preamp to sound better.
To check whether your turntable has an inbuilt preamp, check your turntable for a LINE output. Turntables with LINE outputs always have an in-built preamp. If your turntable has a phono output only, then it means that the inbuilt preamp is missing.