Phono Preamp Reviews & Buying Guide 2019


Hello, I'm Gregor and I put this site together. At first, you'll find an overview of recommended phono preamps, followed by a public poll and a general buying guide on phono preamp. Further down on this page, we do link to other well-written articles and reviews about phono preamps. At last, you'll be able to weight in your own opinion in the comments section.

If you choose to buy an item that I've chosen indepenently and recommended it here, I may earn commissions to support my efforts. For you, the price of the product will not change, I'm just saying this to be completely open with you.

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The 10 Best Phono Preamps of Our Choice

Quick comparison in an overall view
Parks Audio
Cambridge Audio
U-Turn Audio
DJPREII Phono Preamplifier
Puffin Phono DSP phono preamp
DJ Pre II Turntable
by Simaudio 110LP V2
PA10 High Fidelity Phono
Phono Box MM DC
Alva Solo Moving
Mani Phono Preamp
Pluto Phono
Bellari VP549 Phono Preamplifier
ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier Image
ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier
Parks Audio Puffin Phono DSP phono preamp Image
Puffin Phono DSP phono preamp from Parks Audio for all vinyl systems
ART DJ Pre II Turntable Image
ART DJ Pre II Turntable Phono Preamplifier with RIAA EQ and a RCA Male to 2 RCA Male Audio Cable 3'
Moon by Simaudio 110LP V2 Image
MOON by Simaudio 110LP V2 Phono Preamplifier
Fluance PA10 High Fidelity Phono Image
Fluance PA10 High Fidelity Phono Preamp (Preamplifier) with RIAA Equalization for MM Turntables/Vinyl Record Players
Pro-Ject Phono Box MM DC Image
Pro-Ject Phono Box MM DC Phonograph Preamplifier,Black
Cambridge Audio Alva Solo Moving Image
Cambridge Audio Alva Solo Moving Magnet Phono Preamplifier - Silver
Schiit Mani Phono Preamp Image
Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges
U-Turn Audio Pluto Phono Image
U-Turn Audio - Pluto Phono Preamp (White)
rolls Bellari VP549 Phono Preamplifier Image
Rolls Bellari VP549 Phono Preamplifier
according to our criteria
97 %
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91 %
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89 %
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88 %
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87 %
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86 %
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86 %
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85 %
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85 %
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85 %
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  • Dual RCA-type inputs
  • Dual RCA-type outputs
  • Ground terminal
  • Tilt tone controls for fast easy sound adjustment
  • Twenty gain settings from -4dB (CDs) to 72dB (MCs)
  • 12 phono EQ settings w support for early LPs and 78s
  • Phono Preamp for Recording and Playback
  • Switchable Input Capacitance: 100pF/200pF
  • Low Cut Filter Switch
  • Compact rigid all-aluminum chassis with gold-plated rca connectors
  • Designed to be powered up at all times for optimal performance
  • Four layer pcb tracings using pure copper for low impedance charact...
  • Uncompromised phono amplification and equalization - Precisely conv...
  • Sophisticated circuit design engineered with premium components - H...
  • Vivid stereo soundstage - Utilizing individual left and right chann...
  • Compatible with moving Magnet phono cartridges
  • Dual-mono circuitry for optimized Channel separation
  • Low-noise integrated circuits
  • High-quality stereo phono stage
  • Dedicated moving magnet phono stage
  • State of the art switch mode power supply - fast response high prec...
  • Can be used with moving-magnet (mm) cartridges moving-coil (mc) car...
  • Consistent sonic performance super low-noise 115vac usa Plug
  • Four switchable gain modes: (30 42 47 and 59dB)
  • Low-noise phono preamp for all MM (moving magnet) cartridges
  • High quality components elegant circuit design subsonic filter remo...
  • Precision resistors and wima film capacitors deliver detailed disto...
  • The riaa equalization curve was intended to operate as the global i...
  • Reducing the low frequencies also limits the excursions the cutter ...
  • This also reduces physical stress on the stylus which might otherwi...
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Results of the Straw Poll: Popular Phono Preamps

Every month, we analyze which products our readers like the most:

Which Phono Preamp Would You Buy Online? (October 2019)

  • 0 % (0 votes) ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier
  • 0 % (0 votes) Puffin Phono DSP phono preamp from Parks Audio ...
  • 0 % (0 votes) ART DJ Pre II Turntable Phono Preamplifier with...
  • 0 % (0 votes) MOON by Simaudio 110LP V2 Phono Preamplifier
  • 0 % (0 votes) Fluance PA10 High Fidelity Phono Preamp (Preamp...
  • 0 % (0 votes) Pro-Ject Phono Box MM DC Phonograph Preamplifie...
  • 0 % (0 votes) Cambridge Audio Alva Solo Moving Magnet Phono P...
  • 0 % (0 votes) Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges

0 total votes.

If you also want to vote on the best phono preamp, click here to view the poll.

Phono Preamp Buying Guide

Phono Preamp Image
Picture: DJPREII Phono Preamplifier from ART

Whether integrated or external, a phono preamp is an important component for any audio system that features a turntable. This is a topic that confounds even intermediate enthusiasts, and many novices considering a turntable encounter this term without having been previously aware. Our goal with this guide is to answer basic questions, such as what is it and do you need one, but also to streamline the research and selection process should you determine that you need or want a phono preamp.

What Is a Phono Preamp?

Your turntable produces sound at a certain sound level. A phono preamp is an electronic circuit that amplifies the sound from the cartridge to a suitable level for the input, which could be an amplifier or a receiver. Another way to phrase this is that turntables create phono output signals and most stereo equipment and computers require a line level input signal, which is also known as an AUX signal, and so the phono preamp converts from phono to line level.

Phono preamps can either be integrated or external. Many turntables have integrated preamplifiers in order to output line level. Some receivers and other audio equipment that feature phono inputs can also have built-in preamplifiers. External preamplifiers are standalone devices that are situated between the output of the turntable and the input of the receiver, amplifier or other audio equipment. Phono preamps also go by a number of different names depending on the context, the brand or to whom you are speaking. These include:

• Phono stage • RIAA preamp • Turntable preamp • Phono preamplifier

Do I Need a Phono Preamp?

Yes, but since this depends on a number of different factors, there’s some points to consider:

• A DJ mixer can serve as a preamp. • Your turntable may have a built-in preamp. • If your turntable has a USB output, it has an integrated preamp. • Your receiver or amplifier may have an integrated preamp.

So, the answer is you absolutely do need a phono preamp in order to deliver sound from a turntable to most other audio and computer components. That said, your system may have an integrated preamp either at the input or output, or you may have another component that can fill the role.

If you connect a turntable to a receiver or other component with any kind of preamplification, then you may not hear anything at all, and if you do, it will be so feint as to be practically inaudible. In addition, anything you do hear will lack bass and perhaps other characteristics as well.

Are There Benefits to External Phono Preamps?

This comes down to a matter of preference. The integrated phono preamps that are made today are quite good even if they are relatively inexpensive. So, if your turntable has one, you’ll be all right using it. Of course, some audiophiles would scoff at this. Their ears can discern the difference. You have to determine the quality for which you’re striving. If every component that you have purchased is very high-end, then it probably behooves you to invest in a high-end external preamp as well.

Does Brand Matter in Terms of Pairing?

No. Brand only matters in terms of your preferences. Are you buying a brand known for making quality audio equipment at that price level? In all facets of audio and home theater equipment, brand does not matter in terms of mating one component to another. In almost all cases, these inputs and outputs are standardized, and as long as a connection is supported both ways, any pairing will work.

Choose According to Your Cartridge

Once you’ve decided to purchase a phono preamp, it’s imperative that you select it based on your turntable’s phono cartridge. If, for instance, your turntable features a moving magnet or MM cartridge, then you need to select a phono preamp compatible with that technology. Most preamps are compatible with MM. If, on the other hand, you have a turntable with a moving coil or MC cartridge, then you need a phono preamp compatible with low-output cartridges. Many manufacturers do make MM/MC preamps—meaning that the component is compatible with either type—but it’s important to be aware of the distinction so that you know exactly what you are buying and why.

Consider Technical Characteristics

Note the technical characteristics of any preamp you’re considering. Preamps will often indicate gain, such as 40 dB; resistive load, such as 47,000 ohms; and capacitive load, such as 100 pF. Capacitive load is often adjustable and may range from as low as 0 pF to as high as 500 pF. If the preamp has any compatibility thresholds or recommendations, then identify those and adhere to them.

Be mindful that the purpose of a phono preamp is not just to elevate the gain but to correct the RIAA curve. Generally, the quality of a preamp—and thus how much it is going to cost you—reflect how precisely the amp is able to correct the RIAA curve of the provided phono signal.

Choose According to Your Vinyl Turntable and Other Equipment

If your current equipment has any integrated preamps, determine if those components can be stepped over. In other words, can you disable them or otherwise avoid them? If you cannot, then this may mean that a preamp doesn’t make sense with your current configuration, or it may mean that you should only invest in an external preamp of a certain quality. Note that preamp built into a turntable generally isn’t a concern even if it can’t be stepped over. A good preamplifier can still correct the RIAA curve. A preamp in an amplifier or a receiver that cannot be stepped over is a much bigger concern because it can negatively affect the corrected curve.

Choose According to Budget and System Value

A good phono preamp can be had for as little as $150, but the best of the best can run you as much as $1,000 or more. You really need to establish a budget not just for the preamp but the entire system. Another way to look at this is that you need to determine a target sound quality. Enthusiasts will often use terms like low-end Hi-Fi, mid-range Hi-Fi and high-end Hi-Fi. If your entire system is mid-range, then you should target a mid-range preamp. Your sound quality is only as good as your weakest component, and if you overspend, then you’re just throwing money away. The exception here is when you decide to upgrade overall, but at that point, you need to determine which next upgrade makes the most sense.

Phono Preamp Inputs and Outputs

You also need to ensure that the inputs and outputs supported by your chosen preamp are appropriate to your system. The most basic configurations will have a phono input and an aux output. That may be good enough for you, but there are many options available as well, including headphone jacks, RCA connectors, USB ports and much more. Determine what you want to use before choosing.

Digitizing Your Vinyl Records

If you’d like to convert your vinyl records to a digital format, you need an RIAA phono preamp. Many newer turntables have an integrated RIAA phono preamp. Most modern external phono preamps are a suitable solution as well. If your sole purpose for purchasing a preamp is to digitize your collection, then you may want to consider a basic USB phono preamplifier, which can be a more economical option.

Final Thoughts

Our hope is that this guide answered your questions as well as provided the resources necessary to choose the best phono preamp for you. Set your targets both in terms of sound quality and budget, and do this across the board rather than just for your phono preamp or certain components. This will help ensure that you get the sound experience that you want but also at the best possible price.

Your Opinion Matters!


Phono Preamp Reviews & Additional Articles

New: Our editorial list of additional articles. We decided to gather informartion all around the internet and present you a list of helpful, external links to interesting reads about the best phono preamps and their reviews and guides.

Best Phono Preamp Reviews. Audio Alchemy's High Performance PPA-1 MM/MC Phono Preamplifier. The Even More Amazing ifi Micro iPhono 2 MM/MC Phono Preamplifier. Pro-Ject's MM/MC Phono Box RS Is A Chronic Overachiever. pure audio "vinyl" Phono Preamplifier From New Zealand. Luminous Audio Technology's Remarkable Arion Phono ...
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Buying Guide Get a phono preamp and make sure you can actually hear something from your speakers. Here is a fast and easy buyer's guide for you. ...
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Buying Guide This Guide To Turntable Setups will explain: the key components, the different setup configurations, and the most commonly Buy 4orMore Records, Get 10% Off. No Code Needed info . A phono preamp converts PHONO to LINE LEVEL. ...
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Best Sutherland Engineering Duo phono preamplifier . the dynamic that keeps vinyl at the top: a confluence of marketing psychology and genuine sonic goodness. ...
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Reviews It's an inconvenient fact of the vinyl enthusiast's life that most turntables do not have a built in phono preamp or stage and equally that few integrated amplifiers  ...
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Buying Guide The phono preamplifier is essential for using your vinyl turntable. Read our advice on how to choose the right phono preamp for you. Shopping Guides. ...
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The Phono Preamps of Our Choice At a Glance

You're not convinced by the previous writings about phono preamps? Of course you can just choose by visual impression, that's why we present you all our chosen products at a single glance. A click on any image is enough to open an external link to the best offer we could find.

Tips from YouTube about Phono Preamp

Today - BEST 5: Phono Preamps 2018

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Conclusion for this Phono Preamp Buying Guide in October 2019

Finally, we want to present you our rating criteria for our phono preamp comparison, so you can better understand and comprehend our recommendations and the rating process itself. Furthermore, we still ask you to keep your eyes open for short term deals in order to make some great bargains with phono preamp in 2019.

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