The Importance of a Phono Preamp and Why You Need One

Explanation article about phono preamps for record players

In the world of vinyl enthusiasts and audiophiles, the role of a phono preamplifier cannot be overstated. When first starting out, many people dont even know what it is.

What is a Phono Preamp?

A phono preamp, also known as a phono stage or phono amp, plays a vital role in vinyl record setups. It also is essential in almost all turntable setups. This guide will discuss phono preamps, explain its functions in vinyl playback, and highlight why you need one.

The Role of a Phono Preamp and Why They Are Needed

  • A phono preamp is an electronic device designed to amplify the delicate and low-level signal produced by a turntable's cartridge. It's primary purpose is to bring this signal up to line level. This makes record player output  signal compatible with other audio equipment, like receivers, power amps and speakers.

  • Correcting the RIAA Equalization Curve. A crucial function of a preamp is to apply the RIAA equalization curve. This corrects the frequency response of vinyl recordings, resulting in accurate and balanced sound.

  • Compatibility with Modern Audio Systems. Many modern audio systems lack a dedicated vinyl input, necessitating the use of an external phono preamp to connect a turntable. A phono preamp acts as a bridge, integrating your audio setup.

    Choosing the Right One

    • Consider Your Cartridge Type: Determine whether you have a moving magnet (MM) or moving coil (MC) cartridge to ensure compatibility with the phono preamp you select. 

    • Budget and Features: Assess your budget and pick things that align with your audio preferences, such as adjustable gain, quality components, and connectivity options.

      Preamp Options

      • The Budget Option - If you are a utilitarian type and want something that just works and comes in at a great price point, then the ART DJPREII fits perfectly.
      ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier Picture
      • Middle Ground - Pro-Ject is a respected name when it comes to Vinyl. The Phono Box S2 is a great upgrade and will elevate any setup.
      Pro-Ject Phono Box S2 Phono Preamplifier
      • Premium - For more of a premium option, check out the Cambridge Audio Alva Duo, at this price point you'll start to see more premium things like dedicated MM or MC modes to enhance the audio performance.  
      Cambridge Audio Alva Duo | Phono Preamp for Moving Magnet & Moving Coil Turntables


      A phono preamp is an key component for vinyl enthusiasts seeking an immersive and authentic audio experience. By amplifying and equalizing the delicate signals from your turntable's cartridge, a phono preamp ensures faithful reproduction of your vinyl records. Whether you're an audiophile or a new enthusiast, pciking a quality preamp will elevate your vinyl playback and bring out the nuances and richness of your favorite records. Embrace the magic of vinyl with a phono preamp and experience the timeless pleasure of analog sound.

      Looking for help setting up your system, check out our guide here for integrating the SwitchOne speakers with a turntable

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