Best Phono Preamps Under $500 in 2021

BEST
Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier - Black
BUDGET
Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges (Silver)
PREMIUM
Rega Fono MM MK III Moving Magnet Phono Pre-Amp - Black
Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier - Black
Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges (Silver)
Rega Fono MM MK III Moving Magnet Phono Pre-Amp - Black
BEST
Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier - Black
Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier - Black
BUDGET
Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges (Silver)
Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges (Silver)
PREMIUM
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 Moving Magnet Phono Pre-Amp

Rega Fono MK III is known as one of the best phono stages. Well, its successor Rega Fono is even better. Priced very affordably, this multi-award-winning, high-quality phono preamp is a must-see for all vinyl fans.

The Rega FONO is available in two versions. One that supports MM cartridges and one that supports MC. Their circuits are specially designed to adapt to the type of cartridge for which they are suitable. Both versions use a totally unobtrusive design where the channels are completely separated from each other for optimal performance.

The Rega engineering team specifically designed the Fono to perfectly match its impressive moving magnet cartridges that we see on many Rega turntables. While it doesn’t have many features as it specifically matches Rega’s moving magnets, it sounds warm and rich with lots of detail and separation. Plus, with such standardized moving magnet cartridges, it works great with any brand of moving magnet! It works so well that it has won numerous “Best of” phono preamp awards for moving magnetic cartridges. This is the third revision of the Fono MM that has won numerous European “best of” awards each year since 2014! Rega’s engineering team found that by dividing the amplifier section and the RIAA section into separate parts, they could optimize the components used for each section. They are wound using polyester capacitors in the signal path and polypropylene capacitors are used in RIAA equalization circuits. Very cool!

The preamp has a construction designed to be efficient and easy to use. Its RIAA equalization has been divided into two stages to minimize interactions, with signal paths with polyester capacitors for durability. It has a smooth and refined look that complements its fantastic performance.

Rega Fono offers dynamic and quality sound with an output impedance of 200Ω. Plus, you can keep that constant sound for as long as you want as it comes with a power button that helps you turn off the power more and more easily. While it might not be a reach to proclaim that this is one of the best phono preamps, Rega Fono still has a few weaknesses, namely its powerful power supply, which can hamper your enjoyment of music. However, all things considered, the Rega Fono is sure to always be a worthwhile purchase.

Pro-Ject Audio Phono Box DC MM/MC Phono preamp

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

If you are looking for a low budget phono preamp, Pro-Ject Audio Phono Box MM / MC is here for you. Besides being affordable, it offers many features. First of all, the workmanship and the quality of the design are excellent. The equipment is made of high quality materials that somehow make it robust. Although it is small in size, it is very dense and this density adds to its strength.

In terms of sound quality, it has very low noise, virtually no distortion, a flat RIAA EQ curve with 60dB of gain (MC) and 40dB of gain for high fidelity performance. You can already see what that can mean, right? Prepare to be carried away by the quality of the music! Not only is it affordable, well built, and sounds great, but the Pro-Ject Phono Box MM’s flexibility is also unmatched, meaning its compatibility with MM and MC cartridges. It is designed to fit all types of turntables, with its line out function designed for MM and MC cartridge types. In addition, it offers high fidelity performance for moving coil cartridges and moving magnet cartridges. This is made possible by its low noise, distortion, and flat RIAA equalizer curve. For more power, it is capable of 9.5V RMS / 1kHz maximum output.

This phono preamp generally complains that its output can be quite low, which can put users off. However, for the price and the many features that the phono stage can accommodate, this is a phono preamp still worth checking out. The Pro-Ject Audio Phono Box MM / MC is also easy to use. It comes with RCA cables and is easy to install. With the user manual, you can connect and pair your equipment with your other devices and enjoy near-flawless sound.

However, what we like the most is the fact that it works with almost any cartridge. This means less expense for you and more opportunities to take advantage of all the features of your phono preamplifier. This phono preamp improves sound quality. The latter is much clearer, fuller, and even sounds superior when the volumes are low.

When it comes to phono preamps, Pro-Ject is a name you can trust. And if your budget is tight, you can’t beat the Pro-Ject Phono Box MM. For something as cheap as this, the features you can get are absolutely phenomenal!

Cambridge Audio Alva Duo | Phono Preamp for Moving Magnet & Moving Coil Turntables

Cambridge Audio Alva Duo | Phono Preamp for Moving Magnet & Moving Coil Turntables
  • ✓ DESIGNED FOR VINYL – Cambridge Audio’s Alva Duo was designed to give you a superb sonic experience from your favorite record collection using...
  • ✓ ATTENTION TO DETAIL – The Alva Duo's switch mode power supply and surface mount technology delivers short signal paths and a faster response...
  • ✓ SUBSONIC FILTER & BALANCE CONTROL – The Alva Duo will even work if your vinyls are a little worse for wear. The subsonic filter and balance...

The Cambridge Audio Alva Duo is called Duo because it is designed to accommodate both moving coil cartridges and moving magnet cartridges. It also has other unique properties, but the MC or MM switchable option is a nice touch that you won’t see in many preamps in this price range.

There are stereo RCA inputs for your moving coil turntable, as well as a pair of outputs for connecting to an amplifier or (slightly less probable) a pair of powered speakers, around the back. A grounding post prevents turntable hum, as well as a modest balance control and a mains power output. They have a subsonic filter and an auto power-down mode that puts the Duo in standby if it has been idle for more than 20 minutes.

It could also be called a Duo, as it works as a headphone amp. It performs 2 tasks amplifying the incoming recording signal at the same time, sending power and sound to your headphones… how convenient! The box itself is stylishly designed with a large button on the front, the MC / MM switch next to it, and the power button right next to the switch. It has some useful features, some of which are notably in this price range.

Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier

Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier - Black
  • Suitable for MM and MC cartridges
  • Fully discreet circuit design without OpAmps
  • Ultra low noise circuitry with FET input stage


Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier is a simple preamp
: just a box with RCA connectors on the rear and a power button and indicator light on the front. Big things are believed to come in small packages. This is also true of this incredible tiny phono preamp. At a low price, the black aluminium phono preamp has the ability to boost sound for both MM and MC cartridges. This amplifier includes a tube output and a discrete circuit design that produces a fuller, noise-free sound.

The Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 is capable of reproducing a fantastic sound that can confidently compete with other large amplifiers. It also has a number of gain controls on the front panel. There are also five impedance settings to choose from. This preamp is quite simple to operate. In addition, the structure is protected from vibrations by a metal case.

If you’re looking for a phono preamp that can grow with you, the Phono Box DS2 has a tonne of choices for customising it to work with a wide range of phono cartridges. It can handle both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges, and it even allows you to fine-tune the capacitance settings for moving magnets. The movable coil part has about every setting you could possibly require. The best feature is that the settings are accessible from the front panel, allowing you to make changes on the fly while listening to hear the differences for yourself. With moving coils, we’ve discovered that going up or down one level makes a noticeable difference in the sound most people can hear. Going up tends to make things leaner, but going down tends to make things warmer.

The Phono Box DS2’s dual mono construction ensures excellent separation, and we like that Pro-Ject took effort developing the chassis to be resonance-resistant.
Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier is the Best Phono Preamps Under $500.

Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges

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)

The Schiit Mani Phono Preamp is the best amplifying gadget to buy if you want to bring your music to life. The device is little, yet it has a lot of power. It produces fantastic sound effects with a lot of intricacies for a very low price. You’ll hear music that is both quiet and vibrant, with the instrumental sound clearly distinguishable.

The Schiit Mani Phono Preamp can be used with both MM and MC cartridges. It’s built in the United States to the highest quality standards, which are reflected in the sound it amplifies. The preamp produces outstanding sound with clarity and detail that no other device in this price range could match. With an aluminium shell and gold-plated connectors, the device is built to last.

The Schiit Mani Phono Preamp for MC and MM Cartridges is a simple, low-cost preamp that works with both moving coil and moving magnet cartridges. Although this is a simple design with no large knobs to turn, it is not without alternatives. Do not be fooled by the amusing name. For the price, it’s actually a pretty good amp.

Vincent PHO 300 Phono Preamplifier MM/MC with Separate-Chassis Power Supply Black

Vincent PHO 300 Phono Preamplifier MM/MC with Separate-Chassis Power Supply Black
  • MM and MC phono preamplifier, front panel MM/MC switch
  • Separate chassis for power supply and phono stage
  • Inputs: 1 x Stereo RCA, 1 x 5-pin DIN (DC IN PHO-300)

If you’re searching for a powerful amplifier that can handle both MC and MM cartridges, this beauty with a separate power supply and preamp chassis is the way to go. The construction and quality of the components are commendable, and the sound produced is quiet or non-existent. Vincent PHO 300 is one of the manufacturer’s most clever designs. Vincent is known for producing smart and high-quality audio gear.

The Vincent PHO 300 is a cost-effective and simple-to-use device. Furthermore, the preamp’s front panel allows you to choose between the MM and MC modes. To improve sound quality, the manufacturer uses higher-grade components. The fantastic gadget is housed in a sleek and durable metal housing that has stood the test of time.

Parasound Zphono MM/MC Phono Preamplifier with USB

Parasound Zphono MM/MC Phono Preamplifier with USB
  • Dual transformers and analog power supplies - AC polarity switch to help eliminate hum
  • RIAA defeat switch allows for post recording digital RIAA equalization - Settings for MM-47 kΩ, MC-47 kΩ or MC-100 Ω cartridges

Parasound Zphono MM/MC Phono Preamplifier with USB is a MM and MC cartridge that will breathe fresh life into your vinyl collection. This phono preamplifier uses high-quality components to ensure that low-level signals have the least amount of distortion and noise.

To achieve noiseless performance, Zphono employs discrete RIAA equalisation circuitry. This device is a music specialist, and it was created to effectively magnify music.It works with both MM and MC cartridges and features powerful dual transformers for optimum results. The input gain may be readily altered between MC and MM using the back control panel.

The item is well-built and has a stunning appearance thanks to its black metallic body. It isn’t as sleek or as sophisticated as the other tiny gadgets, but it delivers great performance.

Parks Audio Puffin Phono DSP Phono preamp

Puffin Phono DSP Phono preamp from Parks Audio for All Vinyl Systems
  • MAGIC lessens records pops and clicks making your LPs sound better than ever
  • Grade your records with the grading function. Sort dupes or determine candidates for replacement
  • Latest Firmware V1.30 **** Twenty gain settings from -4dB (CDs) to 72dB (MCs)

The Puffin is by far the greatest phono preamp in this price range, with supposedly super-powerful versatility that allows you to simply alter gain, volume, bass, treble, and tilt tone. You can experiment with identifying and boosting just what your particular ear enjoys when it comes to music thanks to the option to modify the sound.

This preamp is easy to use. It includes twenty gain levels ranging from -4 to 72 dB, as well as transfer options like tube and tape. This preamp is highly recommended if you want crystal clear sound that you can modify to your desire.

The adjustability system is also very user-friendly. This preamp, unlike many others, has a digital display and an easy-to-use toggle switch. This makes determining the gain level required by your system to achieve the desired sound quality quick and simple. Thanks to the clearly labelled ports on the front of the device, this preamp is also quite easy to set up correctly.

Musical Fidelity Phono Preamplifier V90-LPS

Sale
Musical Fidelity, Phono preamplifier V90-LPS, Black
  • Input impedance: 47k ohm (MM), 100 ohm (MC) Input sensitivity: 3.0mV (MM), 200mV (MC) - for 300µV out
  • Frequency Response: +0, -0.1dB, 20Hz to 20 kHz Signal / Noise ratio (A weighted): >80dB (MM), >80dB (MC)
  • Extremely accurate RIAA extending out to at least 60kHz Switchable MM / MC input with RCA inputs for each

The asynchronous USB interface is a fundamental component of the V90 Amp. This USB interface leverages the V90’s high-quality 24-bit DAC (Digital to Analogue Convertor) to bypass your computer’s built-in soundcard. The amp can deliver audio to its full potential by properly managing the output from your computer. A shared optical digital/analogue 3.5mm input is also included, which is perfect for attaching an iPod/MP3 player or employing as part of a multi-room system.

This Phono preamp is a fraction of the size of a standard amplifier, it’s suitable for usage on a crowded desktop, a shallow shelf, or as part of a discrete multi-room setup. With a robust 20W per channel, the V90-Amp can drive all but the most difficult speaker loads to tolerable volume levels, while Musical Fidelity’s hi-fi knowledge ensures that the music is designed to sound detailed yet dynamic, with a superb sense of realism.

The V90-Amp is made entirely of aluminium and has a beautiful, basic look. Metal casings are suitable because they shield the sensitive internal electronics from mechanical and electrical interference, lowering the risk of acoustic distortion. There is also less possibility of mains interference damaging the delicate DAC circuitry because the power source is positioned outside of the main unit.

The Musical Fidelity V90-Amp is the ideal companion for your computer or as part of a high-quality multi-room system, proving that good things do indeed come in small packages.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a phono preamp?

It is critical to understand the operation and utility of a phono preamp before purchasing one. A phono preamp, also known as a phono stage, is an audio device that can enhance the signals from your vinyl turntable to the point that they can be connected to your sound system effortlessly. As a result, you will be able to experience the improved sound quality that you were before unable to enjoy.

Internal phono preamps and exterior phono preamps are the two most common types of phono preamps. External phono preamps are dedicated devices specialised in amplifying the sound of your record player or turntable. Internal or built-in preamps are available in many expensive systems, whereas external phono preamps are dedicated devices specialised in amplifying the sound of your record player or turntable. They’re compact and portable, and they can handle a wide range of musical genres.

Is a Preamp necessary?

Yes, a preamp is required to amplify the turntable signals to the same level as your sound system’s operational level. It can be integrated into your sound system or purchased independently for use when needed. However, before purchasing a preamp, you must determine the quality of the source and purchase the equipment accordingly to avoid wasting your money.

What cables and accessories do I need to connect a phono preamp to my turntable?

You’ll need multiple cords to connect your turntable to your sound system if it requires an external preamp. The power adaptor should be included with the preamp, so that’s taken care of right away.

Two sets of RCA cables are also required. The first pair will connect your turntable to your preamp, while the second set will connect your preamp to your sound system. Because they are color-coded as red and white, this is quite simple. You should also get a cable that is less than five feet long. If you go beyond this time limit, the sound will become distorted or interrupted.
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