Do I Need a Preamp for My Turntable?

Whether you’re an audiophile or just playing for fun, you’ll need a preamp to improve the quality of your vinyl. But what makes a good preamp? And how do they work? With this article, we break down everything from how it improves sound quality, to what material is used in its construction, and more. So read on and learn about your next step in becoming a better disc jockey!

Table of Contents

What is Preamp?

A preamp is short for “pre-amplifier,” and it helps your audio source produce a clear and powerful sound with greater dynamic range. A preamp takes the signal from the record player and boosts it so that it can be amplified with a speaker system or plugged into another audio device. This device is popular among DJ’s, musicians, and audiophiles who want to listen to vinyl records with great clarity.

The best turntable preamps also have features such as RIAA phono inputs that will help adjust signal levels before going into the amp for superior sound quality.

What is RIAA?

The RIAA was the organization that created the standard for vinyl playback in 1956. It says that audio should be equalized at 7,500 cycles per second (CPS) in hertz (Hz). If you have a signal that is not amplified by the RIAA curve, your sound will be tinny or thin.

When using a phono preamp, you typically need to place the cartridge on the tone arm. Then set the cartridge weight to apply a 4 g downward force on the stylus.

The History of Preamps in Vinyl Records:

Turntable preamps aren’t a new concept, in fact they have been around since 1930’s when they were used to amplify radio signals. They were also used in record players when they first came out in 1950’s.

The modern vinyl records were introduced in the 1970’s and turntables became more popular. Most turntables were equipped with a “phono” output jack to connect to the receiver, and the preamp was built right into it.

Later as vinyl records started to become obsolete, turntables didn’t come standard with phono jacks again. The only way you could connect your turntable to a receiver was by purchasing a separate preamp. Nowadays, turntables are back in style which is why they are being included in new stereo systems.

A Preamp’s Job:

Most turntable feature expensive preamps that allow you to adjust sound levels (such as tracking force, which affects the speed at which your stylus cuts the groove in the vinyl), and to adjust RIAA equalization (which corrects an issue called “vibrations” where certain sounds aren’t played at the same volume level on different stereo channels).

This type of adjustment is helpful for any piece of electronic equipment that has digital components that can be affected by it. You can usually control these adjustments through a simple dial or switch on your turntable.

Other preamps also have a built-in amplifier that enables you to use your turntable with a pair of powered speakers or a different sound system. This is especially attractive for DJs, who want the best possible sound when they’re mixing vinyl at a gig.

Is It Necessary?

A turntable preamp isn’t required for any turntable, but it is recommended if you want the best possible sound quality out of your records. This is especially true if your setup includes a pair of powered or amplified speakers or even just an ordinary stereo system with an integrated amplifier.

The reason for this is that many turntable cartridges and styli do not have the built-in technology to deliver a consistent and high-quality signal to your amp. With a preamp, you can maximize the signal and increase the playback volume without overflowing your amplifier.

As an added benefit, you can also use it with multiple turntables with different tracks on the same album. This allows you to run up to 6 speakers off of one 4 channel amp instead of having to install extra equipment such as an equalizer.

What Type of Material should be used?

The material used in a turntable preamp affects its overall performance, especially the durability. Most manufacturers use either aluminum or pure copper for maximum strength and electrical conductivity. Other components that are important for a good connection include gold-plated connectors and rhodium-plated contacts.

Aluminum is a great material because it has high thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity. These properties allow it to move heat away from the circuit board quickly, making it a great conductor for heat away from sensitive components such as the amplifier chips.

It’s also strong enough to withstand strong vibrations produced by high-output speakers without causing any mechanical distortion of its electrical signal properties.


As you can see, turntable preamps aren’t just for turntables. If you want to improve the quality of your vinyl records and music playing experience, then you should look into a turntable preamp.

They are especially helpful when you want to connect your turntable to powered speakers. They also help expose the true sound quality of your records by getting rid of distortion and creating a more balanced playback volume.

And even if you’re just using it to improve the quality of your records, it’s worth considering. Not only will it improve sound quality, but because it also has a built-in amp, you could be saving money during your music library upgrades!


Q: How do you hook up preamp to turntable?

A: The turntable itself A preamp (it can be external or internal) An amplifier or receiver Speakers.

Q: Is preamp needed to improve sound of a turntable?

A: The signal that a turntable produces is too weak to be compatible with standard amplifiers. This is why you need a phono preamp to boost the record player’s output before connecting it to whatever’s driving your speakers.

Q: Do all turntables need a pre-amp?

A: It must have a pre-amp in it to provide proper line-out signals. What you do need somewhere for a turntable is an equalizer that compensates/undoes the intentional skew of the signals pressed into vinyl records. That means you need a pre-amp with input channels specifically equipped to put the signals back to normal.

Q: How do I know if I need a preamp?

A: – Look for RCA outputs somewhere on your turntable (usually the back or side) – Check for a USB output (sometimes used to connect to an external amplifier) – Look for an input labeled “Phono”