5 Best Phono Preamps from $10 to $500

Almost every audiophile has a basic understanding of what a phono preamp does, but few understand it well enough to know the subtle differences between models. This article is for those who are inexperienced with phono preamps or are looking for suggestions on what to buy.

A phono preamp converts the low-level signal of an audio source into something that can be amplified by your stereo’s power amp. It boosts the signal so that it doesn’t get distorted by the amplifier.

The signal has less range and width due to its limited level, but this additional fidelity is great when trying to play a low-level recording (LP) (e.g. classical music) through a system with more powerful speakers.

What distinguishes phono preamps from other types of audio equipment? There are no transformers or capacitors in a phono preamp, and they aren’t part of the circuit when they do their magic.

Buying Guide

Turntables produce a sound that is then transferred into the audio file stills on your computer. A phono preamp is a device that converts this analog signal into a digital signal to be sent through your computer sound card.

Since audio equipment is very sensitive to factors such as room acoustics and placement, it’s important that you choose a preamp that has the best performance. So for this article, I will outline how to choose the best phono preamp in three stages: budget, components needed, and final considerations.

1. Budget

If your budget is below $10, you will have to get by with the best phono preamp you can find. These are usually external boxes attached to your hi-fi system. The higher the price of the external box, the better it will be overall. The only components in these preamps are RCA cables, so there are no worries about power supplies or other components that could cause problems down the road.

2. Components Needed

For the best sound quality, you will need to get a phono preamp that has a bunch of great components in its internal circuitry. While not essential, getting a phono preamp with good output coupling caps will help the sound. The high-end audiophile gear has its own special types of components to use when building their phono preamps, but for people with less money, it’s hard to go wrong when buying a regular phono preamplifier.

3. Power Supply

Since you will be plugging your phono preamp into a wall outlet, it must have a power supply so that you can enjoy music. This is one of the key features, which you will want to keep an eye out for when buying this type of equipment.

5 Best Phono Preamps from $10 to $500

Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges (Silver)
Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges (Silver)
Consistent sonic performance, super low-noise. 115VAC, USA Plug.; Four switchable gain modes: (30, 42, 47, and 59dB)
Pro-Ject Audio - Phono Box DC - MM/MC Phono preamp with line Output - Blk
Pro-Ject Audio - Phono Box DC - MM/MC Phono preamp with line Output - Blk
Compact phono preamplifier; Adjusts for MM or MC cartridge via switch on rear panel; Small size allows installation close to record player
Rega Fono MM MK III Moving Magnet Phono Pre-Amp - Black
Rega Fono MM MK III Moving Magnet Phono Pre-Amp - Black
Rega Fono MM MK3 Phono Stage (Black)

Last update on 2022-09-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1. 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)

Pyle Phono Turntable Preamp - Mini Electronic Audio Stereo Phonograph Preamplifier with RCA Input,...
  • CONVERTS PHONO SIGNALS: A turntable preamp that converts phono signals to Line Level Signals This state-of-the-art circuitry phono preamp can...
  • LOW NOISE OPERATION: Offers outstanding performance with it’s Low-Noise Audio Operational Amplifiers The output is 2V max (P-P) at 10K Ohms It’s...
  • CONNECTS TO TURNTABLES: Connect any turntable to modern sound equipment without specialized phono input for amplifying music For the receiver, this...
  • SIMPLE PLUG & PLAY: This mini preamp has stereo RCA inputs and stereo RCA outputs Connect the turntable to the RCA inputs and ground Then, connect the...
  • 1 YEAR WARRANTY: We guarantee this electric phono preamplifier with both a 30 day no hassle money back return policy and a 1 year manufacturer’s...

Last update on 2022-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

There is no denying that the way we use to listen to music has changed. The introduction of digital music files made it possible for people to store huge amounts of songs without having too much trouble with storage space or file management. It also meant that listening-in-shower radio became a thing of the past.

Pros:

  • Low noise operation
  • Powered by 12 volt dc adapter
  • Mini Electronic Audio Stereo Phonograph Preamplifier with RCA input, RCA output and low noise operation

Cons:

  • Too many wires on the back of the device
  • Does not come with a power adapter
  • Controls on back of device are difficult to understand and fairly close together

2. Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges (Silver)

Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges (Silver)
  • Can be used with moving-magnet (MM) cartridges, moving-coil (MC) cartridges, or high-output cartridges
  • Consistent sonic performance, super low-noise. 115VAC, USA Plug.
  • Four switchable gain modes: (30, 42, 47, and 59dB)
  • Accurate, quiet, passive RIAA Network
  • Designed and assembled in the USA from high quality components

Last update on 2022-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Schiit Mani phono preamp is one of the brightest shining stars in Schiit’s product line. The company is known for making high-quality sound equipment at an affordable price point, and the Mani does not disappoint. The unit features fantastic build quality with a very distinct industrial design that will make you stand out on the shelf.

Pros:

  • Five-year warranty
  • Grille and chassis made out of aluminum, for better heat dissipation
  • Highly specialized components and construction

Cons:

  • The Schiit Mani phono preamp is made out of metal, so as such it can be quite noisy.
  • It might not sound as good as some other similar models with a cheaper price tag.

3. 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)

Pyle Phono Turntable Preamp - Mini Electronic Audio Stereo Phonograph Preamplifier with RCA Input,...
  • CONVERTS PHONO SIGNALS: A turntable preamp that converts phono signals to Line Level Signals This state-of-the-art circuitry phono preamp can...
  • LOW NOISE OPERATION: Offers outstanding performance with it’s Low-Noise Audio Operational Amplifiers The output is 2V max (P-P) at 10K Ohms It’s...
  • CONNECTS TO TURNTABLES: Connect any turntable to modern sound equipment without specialized phono input for amplifying music For the receiver, this...
  • SIMPLE PLUG & PLAY: This mini preamp has stereo RCA inputs and stereo RCA outputs Connect the turntable to the RCA inputs and ground Then, connect the...
  • 1 YEAR WARRANTY: We guarantee this electric phono preamplifier with both a 30 day no hassle money back return policy and a 1 year manufacturer’s...

Last update on 2022-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Pyle Phono Turntable Preamp is an incredible device that will help you turn your old vinyl into digital format for playback on your iPod or another MP3 player. For those of us nostalgic for the days of records, this comes as a welcome relief.

Pros:

  • The preamp is designed and manufactured with a heavy-duty and durable aluminum steel chassis
  • The preamp supports both stereo and mono systems by automatically detecting the type of cartridge while providing a variable output level for optimum performance

Cons:

  • This product only has two outputs (RCA) which can be limiting for many customers, especially those who want to connect their turntable to their amplifier.
  • The preamp does not provide any type of EQ settings which means that customers don’t have the option to alter or optimize sound quality.

4. Pro-Ject Audio – Phono Box DC – MM/MC Phono preamp with line Output – Blk

Pro-Ject Audio - Phono Box DC - MM/MC Phono preamp with line Output - Blk
  • Compact phono preamplifier
  • Adjusts for MM or MC cartridge via switch on rear panel
  • Small size allows installation close to record player
  • Ultra-low impedance output stage

Last update on 2022-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Pro-Ject Audio – Phono Box DC – MM/MC Phono preamp with line Output – Blk is an MC and MM front end to amplify the vibrations from your records and convert them into electrical signals.

Pros:

  • Pros
  • Wobbly heads or a faulty tube? No problem! The Pro-Ject Audio MM/MC Phono preamp with line output has a low noise performance and phono input on the front, so you can connect your vinyl player to this unit.

Cons:

  • The Phono Box DC is not equipped with a built-in phono preamp.
  • It does come with a manual ground-lift switch built into the RCA inputs which will cut the ground loop hum, but it’s not as effective as having an internal preamp.

5. Rega Fono MM MK III Moving Magnet Phono Pre-Amp – Black

Last update on 2022-09-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A lot of people use their turntable as a source, but finding the right device to turn it into an audio system can be challenging. For some, the solution is upgrading their turntable for increased sound quality. For others, the solution is adding a phono pre-amp to increase sound quality.

Pros:

  • Adjustable gain and low noise floor
  • Black anodized finish is durable and attractive
  • Accepts MM and MC cartridges
  • Low output impedance

Cons:

  • The Rega Fono MM MK III is much pricier than other models
  • Customers report that the Rega Fono MM MK III does not sound as good as their previous model, the P3-24

Conclusion

There are several companies that produce an array of phono preamps, and each one has its own specification and focus. We hope this blog post helps you find the right preamp for your needs.