It seems as though everyone wants to get back to vinyl these days and for good reason. Vinyl can offer a clear, beautiful sound that just does not come through the same way digitally. It can also give you a new hobby collecting different records. Whatever your reason is for purchasing a turntable, it is important to be informed. Many people new to the world of vinyl see the brightly colored portable turntables in the mall and think that is all they need to start listening to vinyl. Unfortunately, it is much more than those players adorned in trendy patterns. If you are really looking for an amazing sound, you’ll need to invest in a quality turntable and something called a phono preamp.
A phono preamp is a tool that amplifies the signal put out by the turntable’s cartridge without adding any distortion to the sound. Many starters turntables come with a built-in phono preamp which is a great way to begin but if you’re ready to take it a step further, you’ll need to buy the preamp separately. Fortunately, there are several wonderful options for phono preamps under $100. So, put down your earbuds and take a look at these different options for optimum sound on a budget.
ART USB Phono PlusPro: Makes transferring your vinyl records to your laptop easy
Con: Does not come with USB cord
This phono preamp allows customers to transfer all of their vinyl records to their laptop. Many love this feature because they are looking to create CD’s with the music they have on vinyl. If you are looking to do the same, this may be the right phono preamp for you. The ART USB Phono Plus is built well and can be quite versatile. For example, not only can you use it to transfer music from your vinyl to your laptop, this phono preamp allows you to listen with headphones with its easy to control output knob. Amidst rave reviews, there is one complaint – no USB cable. This, however, is a quick fix and an inexpensive purchase. Most people even have a spare USB cable lying around the house. Overall, the ART USB Phono Plus is a great buy for anyone looking to get started.
Pro-Ject Audio Phono Box MMPro: Low noise and distortion and great for beginners
Con: May not last long
The biggest difference in this phono preamp is you cannot transfer you vinyl to your laptop because it does not connect with USB. If you’re not interested in doing so and you’re a novice in the world of vinyl, the Pro-Ject Audio Phono Box could be the best choice. Some customers claim that this accessory breaks easily and shortly after receiving it. Most, however, think this particular phono preamp is simple to use, has a great build, and produces a sound with little distortion. This preamp is fully enclosed in metal casing to protect the electrical components and minimize vibration.
TCC TC-754 RIAA SILVER Phono PreampPro: Great sound for beginners and veteran audiophiles
Con: Power adapter may need replacing
This preamp has built in volume control and four total inputs. Those inputs include one phono and three AUX. The sound produced has little static and noise. As an added plus, this model comes in both silver and black. Though it is convenient for most to have volume control on the preamp, this one has a very small knob that can make it difficult to fine tune when dealing with high outputs. Aside from that and a mere handful of customers complaining the power adapter isn’t strong enough, this is an excellent deal.
Turntable Lab: Rolls VP 29. TTL Phono PreampPro: Stereo output for headphones
Con: Loses sound quality at higher volume
This small unit is a bestseller thanks to its simplicity and high quality sound at a low price. The majority of customers using the Rolls VP 29 unit absolutely love the sound that it produces and are quite surprised by the quality. A complaint from some is that when first using this preamp, the sound quality lessens when the volume is turned up. It is a wonderful preamp for listening to live recordings and of course, for the beginner.
Turntable Phono Preamp With Aux Input and Volume ControlPro: Additional AUX inputs for CD or mp3 players
Con: Needs an amp to go along with it for best sound
Most people agree that this preamp is great for adjusting the output control and volume. It is also perfect for turntables that have a fairly powerful amp. If yours does not, this preamp may produce a hissing noise instead of the authentic, rich vinyl sound you were probably hoping for. Without an amp, this phono preamp won’t amplify the volume at all. Don’t get discouraged because many do love the quality of this accessory when it is paired with a strong amp.
Behringer Microphono PP400Pro: Virtually no noise
Con: Potentially bad power supply
Compared to other, more expensive preamps, this one has a relatively low power supply that to some, very experienced audiophiles, can cause a hum. Vocals may also seem a bit hushed to some. On a positive note, this preamp is sturdily built and is encased in a strong metal box that allows listeners to place it closer to other equipment without causing any distortion in sound. To most, the Behringer Microphono PP400 is a great deal and works perfectly, producing a quality sound for their turntable.
PYLE-PRO PP444 Ultra Compact Phono Turntable PreampPro: Low price for good sound
Con: May not last a long time
At this price it may seem as though it is impossible to find a solid piece of equipment for your turntable but this preamp has been a solution for a lot of people. Most love the sound and claim there is very little noise that comes along with. They also love just how compact this preamp really is. Others say it stopped working shortly after purchasing and that the sound quality reflects the price. This product sounds like it may be a hit or miss. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try it out for the awesome low price.