Phono Preamp
May 30, 2010 at 12:43 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 2


New Head-Fier
Oct 19, 2009
May 30, 2010 at 5:56 PM Post #2 of 2
First off - I haven't used any of those, so I can't speak to them specifically.  However, when considering a vinyl playback system and specifically a phono preamp, the cartridge being used is very important - probably more important than the turntable itself, because it is the signal from the cartridge that will be amplified.
Second, the phono preamp has a very tough job - taken small (if a LO moving coil, very small!) signals and amplifying them to line level while applying a complex equalization curve (the RIAA curve enables vinyl playback while reducing the noise inherent in the technology - it reverses the equalization applied in the mastering process for vinyl).  Expecting a very low cost phono stage to outperform a built in one is a leap of faith - it might, but it might not.  I'd be looking to have return privileges so you can figure that out for yourself.
I checked out a lot of lower cost alternatives when I had a vinyl front end, and the one I liked the best was the Monolithic Audio one - however, that retails for almost $400.  Given how tough the job of a phone preamp is, I wasn't really surprised that you had to spend some money to get a basic level of competence (or to put it another way, to get to the point where the improvements per additional $ spent start getting kind of small).  
All of this is the long way of saying there probably aren't that many people who have heard your receiver and one of these phono stages in the same system, so auditioning them yourself is the best way to go.  At the same time, , don't be too surprised if a low budget phono preamp doesn't outperform the built in one.

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