Discrete PHONO PreAmps vs integrated PHONO PreAmps in Audio Receivers
May 24, 2010 at 3:31 PM Post #4 of 10
A couple of less obvious points in addition to the two already mentioned:
-  a receiver is built to a price point;  any phono stage is likely to be an afterthought much like the headphone jack.  Having said that, I was surprised by how good the phono stage of a budget Marantz integrated was when I had in my system for a while  (it was a PM7200) - and I was comparing it with a Monolithic PS1 and a MF Nuvista pre (ok, the Nuvista's phono stage was a disappointment - still it cost a couple of thousand, and otherwise was a good preamp).  So it is possible to build in decent phonostages, even at relatively affordable price points.
-  a phone stage deals with very low voltages, even compared with a line stage preamp.  The hefty power supply, etc. required by a receiver to drive speakers may create the potential for distortion that doesn't matter to the amplifier section but could make a big difference in a phonostage (whose input as well as any distortion is amplified many times over before you hear it).  Doesn't mean it can't be done, but it will likely take some careful design work that you'd normally not expect to see in a budget component.
So, a built in phono stage faces a couple of potential issues that could impact it's sound, but I wouldn't hesitate to build a budget vinyl system around that Marantz integrated, so there are products out there that have overcome those issues.
May 24, 2010 at 8:47 PM Post #5 of 10
yea id like to check out the marantz integrated map/preamps.   personally i think built in phono stages suck really really bad in an integrated amp, but maybe their are pre amps with nicer phono stages,  i am curious about that,, because i am looking for one,, should i not waste my time and  just stick with a dedicated phono stage to preamp to amp?   thanks
May 25, 2010 at 12:39 AM Post #6 of 10
Think about going used!  For a preamp, I wouldn't hesitate to pick up a classic design from the early 90's or even 80's - there's just not much that goes wrong over time with these things.  For example, there's a Threshold Fet9 over on Audiogon right now for well under $1k that is probably at least as good as anything anywhere near that price new.  And no, I'm not the one selling it.  If you don't like it and didn't overpay by a ludicrous amount, you should be able to recoup your cost by selling it.  The early 90's still had lots of designers creating preamps with a vinyl system in mind - so the phono stage was NOT a throw-in! 
May 13, 2012 at 10:19 AM Post #8 of 10
Sure, if you want to, although the built in phono stages of integrated amps and receivers from the 70's and 80's can often be quite good. So listen first, and when upgrading, don't think a $80 phono preamp if going to be a step up.
May 13, 2012 at 4:12 PM Post #9 of 10
The phono preamp in the amplifiers from the 70's and 80's were the main reason for the product to have been designed and sold in the first place. A poorly sounding phono input could be the death knell for an amp. Stand alone preamps only really started to feature in the sales records after many manufacturers had abandoned including a phono input on their amp.
So my opinion is that an inbuilt phono preamp is more often than not a far better sounding solution than the majority of stand alone preamps. Most of the latter are really poor design. 
May 14, 2012 at 8:52 AM Post #10 of 10
The reason I asked is I've decide I'm going to start building a Parasound Z series stack, and they have a phono stage with USB that would be handy for vinyl ripping.

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