The Best Phono Preamps 2020 For Every Budget


Phono Preamplifiers In The Test: Tips And The Best Devices At A Glance

Do you have an equalizer amplifier? If so, you will quickly notice that your new turntable, if you connect it to your amplifier, will produce nothing but a quiet hum.

Why? Because turntable cartridges work with an extremely low output voltage and this must be amplified accordingly.

If your amplifier does not have an input labeled with:

  • Phono
  • MM
  • MC

then there is a good chance that you will have to buy a phono preamplifier. This problem often occurs because the manufacturers of amplifiers didn’t count on a big turntables comeback. The only problem is that the low output voltage of the cartridge means that the signal that is sent to the amplifier is too weak. To get the right signal strength and unbridled music enjoyment, you need to put a preamp between the turntable and the amplifier.

 

Fortunately, phono preamplifiers don’t cost too much. You can get such a device from just $40 and luckily there are a lot of preamplifier tests and guides like this one. The whole thing is, of course, unnecessary if your turntable has an integrated preamplifier. If you ended up here then your amplifier doesn’t have a phono stage.

Note: Because these devices not only amplify but also equalize, they are also called equalizer preamplifiers.

Turntable amplifier, so-called phono, amplifies small signals, about 3mV for MM cartridges, and about 0.3mV or less for MC cartridges. Such a small signal should be amplified 100 times or more, and further amplification is frequency-dependent. It is amplified according to the RIAA curve, which is the standard for recording and playing from turntables.

MM or MC

This is the most important question that you should definitely answer before you start running and order a phono preamplifier. There are different cartridge systems for turntables. The most common is the MM (moving magnet) system followed by the MC system (moving coil). In addition, the phono preamplifiers that support both systems are often called equalization preamplifiers. In connection with an MM cartridge, the signal is amplified about 100 times, with an MC cartridge even 400 times. If you are unsure which system your turntable uses, then take a quick look at the operating instructions or the manufacturer’s website.

How Much Does A Phono Preamp Cost?

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You know the saying well and it also applies to hi-fi components. More precisely, it means that a cheap preamplifier can have a massive impact on the quality of the sound and can even reduce the quality of the rest of the system, including the speakers. Preamplifiers are available for very little money. The phono preamplifier that fits your system should cost about as much as your cartridge. If you don’t know exactly how expensive your cartridge is, no problem. You can also use your turntable as a guide. In this case, the turntable should have cost about 3 times as much as the preamplifier. This way you can count on a harmonious sound at a reasonable cost. If you plan to upgrade your hardware a little in the near future, then it is best to invest in a slightly better phono preamplifier.

Phono Preamp Test And Recommendations

We have had a lot of phono preamps in our hands over the years and have been able to test it. We can only present the results of personal tests and research. To keep it manageable, we have selected 3 recommended preamplifiers from different price ranges for you, among them are of course also a test winner.

Best Phono Preamp Under $ 50

Even the lowest price-range already offers preamplifiers that have nothing to be ashamed of and can produce good sound.

Pyle Phono Turntable Preamp

Pyle Phono Turntable Preamp - Mini Electronic Audio Stereo Phonograph Preamplifier with RCA Input, RCA Output & Low Noise Operation Powered by 12 Volt DC Adapter (PP444)
2,600 Reviews
Pyle Phono Turntable Preamp - Mini Electronic Audio Stereo Phonograph Preamplifier with RCA Input, RCA Output & Low Noise Operation Powered by 12 Volt DC Adapter (PP444)
  • CONVERTS PHONO SIGNALS: A turntable preamp that converts phono signals to...
  • LOW NOISE OPERATION: Offers outstanding performance with it’s Low-Noise...
  • CONNECTS TO TURNTABLES: Connect any turntable to modern sound equipment...
  • SIMPLE PLUG & PLAY: This mini preamp has stereo RCA inputs and stereo RCA...
  • 1 YEAR WARRANTY: We guarantee this electric phono preamplifier with both a...

Pyle Phono Turntable Preamp Features

  • Converts Phono Signals to Line Level Signals
  • State-of-the-Art Circuitry Accommodates Magnetic Pickups
  • Ultra-Low Noise Operation Improves Sound Performance
  • Connects to Turntables and Other Studio Equipment
  • Input Sensitivity: 3mV at 50K Ohms (Phono)
  • Dedicated RCA and 1/4” Output Connectors
  • Output: 2V max (P-P) at 10K Ohms
  • DC 12-Volt Power Adapter Included
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz ~ 20 kHz ±2dB
  • S/N Ratio (A-WTD): 70 dB – Output Level: 2V
  • Input Sensitivity/Impedance/Phono 3 mV / 50K Ohms
  • Load Impedance: 10K Ohms – Reference Voltage: 1V d
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 3.54″ x 2.13″ x 1.02″

Behringer Microphono PP400 Ultra-Compact Phono Preamp

Behringer Microphono PP400 Ultra-Compact Phono Preamp,Silver
1,973 Reviews
Behringer Microphono PP400 Ultra-Compact Phono Preamp,Silver
  • Converts your phono signal to a line level signal
  • State-of-the-art phono preamp to accommodate all magnetic pickups
  • Dedicated RCA and1/4" TRS output connectors
  • DC 12 V adapter included
  • 3-Year Warranty Program*

Behringer Microphono PP400 Ultra-Compact Phono Preamp Features

  • Converts your phono signal to a line-level signal
  • State-of-the-art phono preamp to accommodate all magnetic pickups
  • Dedicated RCA and1/4″ TRS output connectors
  • DC 12 V adapter included
  • 3-Year Warranty Program

GOgroove Mini Phono Turntable Preamp

GOgroove Mini Phono Turntable Preamp Preamplifier with 12 Volt AC Adapter, RCA Input for Vinyl Record Player - Compatible with Audio Technica, Crosley, Jensen, Pioneer, 1byone and More Turntables
607 Reviews
GOgroove Mini Phono Turntable Preamp Preamplifier with 12 Volt AC Adapter, RCA Input for Vinyl Record Player - Compatible with Audio Technica, Crosley, Jensen, Pioneer, 1byone and More Turntables
  • COMPACT DESIGN fits on your bookshelf, desk, table so you can connect your...
  • CONVERTS TURNTABLES PHONO SOUND QUALITY to line level for better sounding...
  • NECESSARY FOR CONNECTING TURNTABLE to newer speakers and receivers that do...
  • EASY TO SET UP OUT OF THE BOX for a simple hook up the preamp to both...
  • RIAA EQUALIZATION boosts the volume signal for balanced, clear audio |...

GOgroove Mini Phono Turntable Preamp Features

  • COMPACT DESIGN fits on your bookshelf, desk, table so you can connect your turntable to your stereo receiver, speakers, or other audio devices in any spot| Powered with 12 Volt AC Adapter (included)
  • CONVERTS TURNTABLES PHONO SOUND QUALITY to line level for better sounding audio and volume | 1/4 HEADPHONE PORT lets you plug in and listen directly to music (no volume control)
  • NECESSARY FOR CONNECTING TURNTABLE to newer speakers and receivers that do not have a phono input
  • EASY TO SET UP OUT OF THE BOX for a simple hook up the preamp to both turntable and audio device so you can enjoy vinyl in no time | ULTRA-LOW NOISE OPERATION for better sound and less distortion
  • RIAA EQUALIZATION boosts the volume signal for balanced, clear audio | BACKED BY 3 YEAR MANUFACTURER’S WARRANTY

Best Phono Preamp Under $ 100

Pro-Ject Audio – Phono Box DC – MM/MC Phono Preamp

Pro-Ject Audio - Phono Box DC - MM/MC Phono preamp with line Output - Blk
140 Reviews
Pro-Ject Audio - Phono Box DC - MM/MC Phono preamp with line Output - Blk
  • Input Impedence MM: 47k ohms / 120pf, Input Pmpedence MC: 100 ohms / 120pF
  • Gain MM: 40dB / Gain MC: 60 dB
  • Noise MM: 86 dB/ Noise MC: 68 dB
  • THD: MM 0.01% / THD: MC 0.05%
  • RIAA EQ Curve Accuracy: 20 Hz - 20kHz / max 0.5 dB

Pro-Ject Audio – Phono Box DC – MM/MC Phono Preamp Features

  • Input Impedance MM: 47k ohms / 120pf, Input Impedance MC: 100 ohms / 120pF
  • Gain MM: 40dB / Gain MC: 60 dB
  • Noise MM: 86 dB/ Noise MC: 68 dB
  • THD: MM 0.01% / THD: MC 0.05%
  • RIAA EQ Curve Accuracy: 20 Hz – 20kHz / max 0.5 dB

Pro-Ject Phono Box MM DC Phonograph Preamplifier

Pro-Ject Phono Box MM DC Phonograph Preamplifier,Black
348 Reviews
Pro-Ject Phono Box MM DC Phonograph Preamplifier,Black
  • Compatible with moving Magnet phono cartridges
  • Dual-mono circuitry for optimized Channel separation
  • Low-noise integrated circuits
  • Gold-plated RCA inputs and outputs
  • Metal case protects unit from vibrations and electromagnetic interference

Pro-Ject Phono Box MM DC Phonograph Preamplifier Features

  • Compatible with moving Magnet phono cartridges
  • Dual-mono circuitry for optimized channel separation
  • Low-noise integrated circuits
  • Gold-plated RCA inputs and outputs
  • The metal case protects the unit from vibrations and electromagnetic interference

Music Hall Mini MM Phono Pre-Amplifier

Music Hall Mini MM Phono Pre-Amplifier
32 Reviews
Music Hall Mini MM Phono Pre-Amplifier
  • 3.5" mini-jack
  • Standard RCA jacks
  • Indicator: 1 power LED
  • w3.25 x h1.5 x d2 in
  • 1.5 lbs.

Music Hall Mini MM Phono Pre-Amplifier Features

The Mini includes a 3.5″ mini-jack output as well as standard RCA jacks. The 3.5″ mini-jack allows you to connect the Mini’s output directly to an analog input of powered speakers or to wherever else it might work best in your system.

  • RIAA equalization +/- 1.5 dB, 20Hz to 20kHz steel chassis
  • I/O connectors: RCA, 3.5mm TRS stereo
  • Input sensitivity: 35 dB gain @1kHz, 47k Ohms Input Z
  • Input capacitance: 5pf + cable capacitance
  • Input impedance: 50k Ohms
  • Output impedance: 1 K Ohms
  • Max output level: >10dB @ 1kHz at .1% dist.
  • S/N ratio: >80 dB unweighted thd .02% @ 1KHz
  • Pwr: 9 – 15 VDC
  • Indicator: 1 power LED w3.25 x h1.5 x d2 in.
  • 1.5 lbs. pkg.

Best Phono Preamp Under $ 500

Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier

Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier - Black
  • Suitable for MM and MC cartridges
  • Precise RIAA equalisation in two parts passive/active
  • Fully discreet circuit design without OpAmps
  • 2x ECC83 tubes (replaceable)
  • Front-sided Subsonic filter button

Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier Features

Innovative miniature-sized phono preamplifier with tube output and high-end sound!

Tube Box S2 is our very first product to feature a fully discreet circuit design without using any operational amplifiers (OpAmps). It also is the first product to come with replaceable tubes for tube rolling and sound-shaping. This gives the customer many options to pick from and alter the sound signature to his preference. Tube Box S2 will give a full and relaxed laid back sound with lush mids, just like you would expect it from a much bigger high-end tube phono pre-amplifier. It offers support for both MM and MC cartridges and comes with many gain settings to be switched on the front panel. Five variable input impedance settings are available to adjust to any MM cartridge, the 47k ohm input impedance setting is fixed and suited for high output MC cartridges. The aluminum/metal casing is adapted to our DS2 line in looks and protects against vibrations and electromagnetic interferences for superior sound.

A true high-end solution in a much smaller package!

Features

  • Suitable for MM and MC cartridges
  • Precise RIAA equalization in two parts, passive/active
  • Fully discreet circuit design without OpAmps
  • 2x ECC83 tubes (replaceable)
  • Front-sided Subsonic filter button
  • Front-sided Gain control
  • Ultra low noise circuitry with FET input stage
  • Dual mono circuitry for optimized channel separation
  • Gold-plated RCA in- and outputs
  • Sandwich alu/metal casing protects from vibrations and electromagnetic interference

Cambridge Audio Alva Duo | Phono MM/MC Preamp

Cambridge Audio Alva Duo | Phono Preamp for Moving Magnet & Moving Coil Turntables
16 Reviews
Cambridge Audio Alva Duo | Phono Preamp for Moving Magnet & Moving Coil Turntables
  • ✓ DESIGNED FOR VINYL – Cambridge Audio’s Alva Duo was designed to...
  • ✓ ATTENTION TO DETAIL – The Alva Duo's switch mode power supply and...
  • ✓ SUBSONIC FILTER & BALANCE CONTROL – The Alva Duo will even work if...
  • ✓ HEADPHONE AMPLIFIER – Cambridge added a unique 6.35mm headphone jack...
  • ✓ TECH SPECS - MAX POWER CONSUMPTION 10W, CARTRIDGE SUPPORT Moving Magnet...

Cambridge Audio Alva Duo | Phono MM/MC Preamp Features

Squeeze every inch of detail from your record collection with our highest quality moving magnet and moving coil phono stage, with integrated headphone amp; the Duo Phono Preamplifier.

  • Max Power Consumption: 10W
  • Cartridge Support: Moving Magnet | Moving Coil
  • Gain @ 1kHz: MM: 39dB | MC: 60dB
  • Nominal Output: 300mV
  • Sensitivity For Nominal Output: MM: 3.35mV | MC: 305uV
  • Equivalent Input Noise (A-Weighted): MM: ~0.09uV | MC: ~0.08uV
  • RIAA Curve Accuracy: +/- 0.3dB 30Hz-50Hz
  • Signal To Noise Ratio Gorunded Inputs Ref. 1V Output (20HZ-20KHZ BW): MM: >90dB | MC: >70dB
  • THD+N 1KHZ (20-20KHZ BW): MM: <0.0025% | MC: <0.20%
  • Input Impedance: MM: 47k Ohms | MC: 100 Ohms
  • Input Capacitance: 100pF
  • Overload Margin: >30dB
  • Crosstalk @ 10kHz: MM: >85dB | MC: 75dB
  • Dimensions (H X W X D): 48 x 215 x 159 mm (1.9 x 8.5 x 6.2″)
  • Weight: 0.95kg (2.1lbs)

Pro-Ject – Phono Box S2

Pro-Ject - Phono Box S2 (Black)
36 Reviews
Pro-Ject - Phono Box S2 (Black)
  • Audiophile Performance
  • Dual mono configuration
  • Audiophile-grade amplification modules
  • Audiophile-grade polypropylene WIMA capacitors
  • Precise RIAA equalization

Pro-Ject – Phono Box S2 Features

Entry-Level High-End Analog Sound and Top-Notch Circuitry for an Unbeatable Low Cost: Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 MM/MC Phono Preamplifier Gets All the Basics Right, Mates with Nearly Any Cartridge. Low cost, high performance, no extraneous extras, only what you need for entry-level audiophile analog sound – that’s the Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 MM/MC phono preamplifier in a nutshell. Loaded with high-end amplification modules and polypropylene WIMA capacitors to ensure you hear the detail, dynamics, and transient responsiveness you deserve from vinyl LPs, the dual-mono Phono Box S2 comes housed in an aluminum/metal box to guard against unwanted electromagnetic interference and resonance. Precise RIAA equalization, a switchable subsonic filter, and switchable input impedance/capacitance abet four adjustable gain levels to give you customizable control and outstanding compatibility with practically any cartridge you choose. At this price, you cannot steer wrong – 100% Music Direct Guaranteed.

How to Connect a Phono Preamplifier

Because we are always asked how to connect the equalization preamplifier or phono preamplifier, we would like to write a little guide.

A weak electrical signal is generated in the pickup by the grooves in the record. This signal is output through the turntable. If you now pass this weak signal on to an amplifier that has no phono input, there is nothing to hear except for a quiet hum. This is where the preamplifier comes in.

The order of the devices should look like this.

  • Record player
  • Phono preamplifier
  • Amplifier (AUX, line, tape or similar, please not with a preamplifier to a phono input)
  • Speakers

Amplifiers and speakers can of course also be replaced by active speakers. Here again, the note, make sure whether your turntable is operated with an MM or MC cartridge. Depending on the system, you may need different cables. If you are unsure, first wire everything for an MM system and then test the signal. If it is still too weak, you have to use an MC device or choose the appropriate connector for MC. Please make sure that you start testing with the MM system. If you first wire an MM system via the MC connections, it can happen that the inputs are overloaded and destroyed. In the beginning, turn up your amplifier only slightly and gradually find the right volume. If everything went smoothly and the cables are in place, then you can finally enjoy your records. By the way, if all else fails, you will find a circuit diagram on most preamplifiers or in the appropriate instructions.

Record Player With Integrated Preamplifier

Yes, there is also this possibility. You can buy a turntable with an integrated preamp. However, this decision only makes sense in a few cases. For example, if you only want to listen to a record occasionally or digitize old records, a turntable with a preamplifier can be a good idea. After all, this can then be easily connected to an amplifier and used directly, this also applies to the PC or the sound card. If you want to listen to a turntable for music and also the appropriate quality, then a turntable without an integrated preamplifier is the better choice. In this way, you have significantly more control over the individual components of your system and can easily retrofit or replace as required.

Information About The Test And The Product Recommendations

World Of Turntables is a private website and if this article talks about the test, then it is a matter of personal tests in a private environment with some of the products. In addition to this, the product recommendations also include products that have been researched in test reports from other publications.

If you have any questions about this or the individual products, you can send us an email at any time.

If you liked this article, please rate below.

Sharing is caring!

(Visited 636 times, 2 visits today)