Finest phono preamps of 2022

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Up to date Oct 4, 2022 9:08 AM

For a lot of music connoisseurs, vinyl is the rule not the exception of their collections. And, in most critical hi-fi programs, there’s a phono preamp between a turntable and mixer. That’s as a result of most turntables, in contrast to CD gamers, ship an audio sign with out inherently elevating it to the proper stage to your receiver and audio system. Phono preamps resolve this drawback by boosting your turntable’s sign by between 40 dB to 50 dB. Moreover, phono preamps apply the standardized RIAA equalization curve, an industry-standard that counteracts the innate highpass that’s bodily reduce into most vinyl information produced after 1954.

Briefly, phono preamps are the bridge between your turntable and A/V receiver and a vital step in most audiophiles’ programs. The most effective phono preamps ship glorious EQs that uncover the nuance and depth of your file with out overtly coloring it, highly effective acquire that reinforces it with out bloating it, and provide management over output. Some even present USB outs and customizable equalizers. Listed below are our picks for phono preamps which might be price a spin. 

How we chosen the perfect phono preamps

As a lifelong musician and audio fanatic, I personal and have owned a revolving panoply of audio tools. For this text, I researched phono preamps in any respect worth factors. I examined quite a few fashions of preamps from many producers, utilizing my very own data of audio gear and my expertise as a tech reviewer to check and distinction these units, sifting them into a number of classes and rating them based mostly on just a few standards. Firstly, I seemed for phono preamps that do an incredible job at their essential perform of making use of a dependable acquire increase and strong RIAA curve. I prioritized phono preamps that ship particularly properly, whether or not offering nice transferring magnet and transferring coil functionality in only one package deal, providing particularly deep and strong sound phases, or together with particular premium options like analog-to-digital 24-bit USB out. 

Issues to contemplate earlier than shopping for a phono preamp

Phono preamps often don’t include a whole lot of choices and options, however that doesn’t imply they’re one measurement suits all. Fairly, with these technical units, it’s usually essential to make sure you recognize what your sound system wants earlier than you make investments. 

Do you want a phono preamp?

Some turntables and A/V receivers embody built-in preamps. Receivers that embody a grounding screw subsequent to their phono jack (this must be labeled) have a phono preamp. Some up to date turntables additionally increase sign multi functional and eschew the necessity for a phono preamp fully. Before you purchase a phono preamp, it’s price investigating whether or not your turntable, receiver, and even powered speaker (for instance, the Kanto YU6 or Klipsch The Sixes) may embody a preamp. Trial and error right here gained’t damage something. In case you plug your turntable into your receiver and fail to get a sign, even with the amount turned up, then you probably want a preamp. Generally programs with a built-in preamp can even profit from a phono preamp, as a discrete preamp will usually do a greater job than the included elements. 

Your phono cartridge

Turntables fall into one in every of two classes: transferring magnet (MM) cartridges or transferring coil (MC) cartridges. MM cartridges are usually heavier and yield a extra saturated response. Lighter MC cartridges lean extra towards an airier, detailed sound. The 2 cartridge sorts are each transducers that change kinetic power into electrical power. Nevertheless, they do that in reverse methods.

MM cartridges make use of a stylus hooked up to magnets, which vibrates between coiled wires because the needle tracks a file’s groove. As a result of the magnets connect to the stylus, the mass of the magnets places better stress on the stylus and makes it barely much less responsive. MC cartridges invert this method, by attaching the coils to the stylus, in order that they vibrate subsequent to mounted magnets. For the reason that coil has much less mass than the magnet, this creates a smaller and lighter cartridge with much less drag and extra responsiveness to the vinyl. 

Some phono preamps work for each MM and MC cartridges. Nevertheless, most lower-end phono preamps are higher with frequent MM cartridges—just like the one which comes on the Fluance RT85, a turntable our reviewer cherished. In case you’ve invested in an MC cartridge turntable, be certain you’ve chosen a phono preamp that has sufficient acquire to energy your sound.


Some of the essential elements of a phono preamp is its equalizer. That’s as a result of RIAA equalization is constructed proper into the best way that information have been bodily produced since the usual was carried out in 1954. RIAA equalization protocol bodily prints a highpass filter into the construction of your file, permitting information expanded playback time, and fewer stress in your system’s stylus. The standardized RIAA equalization curve fixes this by boosting low frequencies and lowering excessive frequencies.

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Due to the innate low increase in RIAA equalization, information are susceptible to low-end flutters and drive rumble, which is boosted alongside along with your album’s bassline. Many phono preamps characteristic equalization settings which might be designed to assist with this and different points. Resultantly a low-cut filter (subsonic or in any other case) is a standard characteristic on phono preamps, in addition to variable acquire settings, and numerous different filter patterns that may deliver out explicit nuances.

Finest phono preamps: Evaluations & Suggestions

Finest total: Moon by Simaudio

Why it made the reduce: This phono preamp from Simaudio affords a customizable and innately musical soundstage that pairs properly with MM and most MC cartridge turntables.


  • MM or MC: Each
  • Achieve Management and Filters: Sure
  • Weight: 1.05
  • Measurement: 9.2 x 7.1 x 2.2 inches


  • Achieve, impedance, and resistance controls make this system suitable with most MM or MC cartridges
  • Attractive clear audio
  • Nice aesthetics


  • No particular options
  • Dear

In case you’re an audiophile in search of a gateway piece of equipment to usher your vinyl system into true hi-fi audio, look no additional than Moon by Simaudio. A celebrated producer of collector audio tools, Simaudio creates sonic phases that ship crisp readability, resonant depth, and bass response with sufficient drive that you may actually hear the mallets in that first timpani roll in Finlandia (or Bernard Edwards “chuck” in “All people Dance”). 

The Moon phono preamp delivers dialable acquire, impedance, and resistance settings within the type of switches on the underside plate, guaranteeing that your Moon can adapt to your turntable, even after you’ve modified out the turntable’s cartridges. For a phono preamp at its worth level, it affords first rate MC cartridge capabilities that far exceed a lot of the competitors, nevertheless, it nonetheless sounds thinner and fewer punchy with an MC cartridge than it should with an MM. That stated, that is nonetheless among the finest MC-capable preamps with a price ticket that doesn’t encroach on the $1,000 worth level. 

The Moon is a Canadian-made phono preamp that delivers a wonderful, detailed sound and options sufficient versatility to pair properly with almost the entire spectrum of cartridges, even when its supply falls off considerably with the quietest finish of the MC spectrum.

Finest entry-level: iFi Audio Zen Phono Preamp

iFi Audio Zen Phono Preamp is the best entry-level phono preamp.

Why it made the reduce: With a wider than regular characteristic set for an entry-level phono preamp, the Zen delivers MM and MC capabilities with selectable acquire, a wise subsonic filter, and even a further 4.4mm balanced out, all whereas sounding remarkably good.


  • MM or MC: Each
  • Achieve Management and Filters: Sure
  • Weight: 1.79 kilos
  • Measurement: 10.87 x 6.14 x 2.32 inches


  • Glorious sound high quality with nice depth
  • Subsonic sensible roll off filter
  • Adjustable acquire with MC capabilities


  • Not as loud and bassy as some rivals
  • Might not give excellent efficiency with MC cartridges

The iFi Audio Zen Phono Preamp is a kind of uncommon items of audio gear that appears completely too good for its worth level. It’s an entry-level preamp that prices a little bit greater than a few of its rivals, but boasts a characteristic set that goes properly past what most of that competitors delivers.

Based mostly in Southport, United Kingdom, iFi has been creating high-end audio gear since 2012 (for those who’re extra into digital-first listening, the iFi xDSD Gryphon is one in every of our favourite DACs). The corporate is thought for glorious sound, and its Zen phono preamp very a lot lives as much as the corporate’s repute. In comparison with the Schitt Mani 2 (maybe probably the most well-known entry-grade phono preamp on the market), the Zen affords a sound stage with a hair much less acquire and fewer emphasis on the bass register. Nevertheless, in comparison at equal volumes, this considerably extra open sonic profile ends in a sound stage with better depth and extra nuance. In comparison with the Professional-Ject Audio – Phono Field DC, the Zen delivers extra strong mids.

If its innate musicality isn’t sufficient to make the Zen price it, the Zen’s characteristic set seals the deal. Maybe most putting is the sensible bass roll-off swap, which purportedly makes use of AI to dictate bass roll-off and, in observe, eliminates low flutter and drive rumble with out reducing out the juicy low finish of your observe. The Zen handles MC capabilities with 4 switchable acquire ranges on the rear. It delivers a decrease than common noise ground, although in observe this will likely be vastly affected by your placement of the system round different electronics (as with every preamp). Its supplemental 4.4mm balanced out is one other boon, permitting you to wire the Zen right into a digitizing system, or no matter else you would like (ought to you will have a 4.4mm balanced cable in your arsenal).

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All in all, the iFi Audio Zen is a remarkably succesful entry-level preamp that impresses with each its innate sound and its characteristic set.

Finest options: Rega – Fono Mini A2D

Rega Fono Mini A2D is the phono preamp with the best features.

Why it made the reduce: With nice sound, and a built-in USB connection, this phono preamp makes positive your analog audio is prepared for the digital age.


  • MM or MC: MM solely
  • Achieve Management and Filters: Sure
  • Weight: .22 kilos
  • Measurement: 10 x 7 x 2.5 inches



For many phono preamps, it’s sufficient to sound good and provide some breadth of connectivity—possibly they add an EQ into the combination—not so with the Rega – Fono Mini A2D, which doubles as an analog-to-digital converter with the assistance of its USB connection. The Fono Mini is especially tiny by preamp requirements, it weighs simply .22 kilos. The housing includes a easy acquire knob on the entrance, subsequent to a centrally situated USB output. The again homes the customary ins and outs.

The Rega’s equalization tends towards shiny highs however nonetheless produces first rate bass. Its acquire, which is adjusted with the knob on the entrance, delivers highly effective boosting. The dearth of EQ customization isn’t an excessive amount of of a draw back, as many receivers provide a point of customizable EQ for those who ought to need it, and the Rega inherently sounds good.

It’s the Rega’s USB connection that makes this system actually shine. It’s a characteristic that isn’t frequent in phono preamps except you’re searching for units 5 occasions the value of the Rega, and it critically expands what the phono preamp can do—and even be. The Rega – Fono Mini A2D is a preamp that questions the bounds of what a phono preamp will be.

Highest quality: McIntosh MP100

McIntosh MP100 is the best quality phono preamp.

Why it made the reduce: With immaculate sound, discrete MM and MC load dials, and a mechanical switch-off digitizer, the MP100 is a stacked preamp.


  • MM or MC: MM and MC with discrete circuits
  • Achieve Management and Filters: Sure
  • Weight: 8.6 kilos
  • Measurement: 11.5 x 3.3 x 13.75 inches


  • Attractive sound
  • Glorious 24-bit USB digitizer included
  • Coaxial and optical output
  • Handcrafted in NY, US


Based mostly in Binghamton, NY, McIntosh is legendary for handcrafted, exactly engineered audio tools. The McIntosh MP100 phono preamp is a real high-end phono preamp with among the finest characteristic units in the marketplace. With a glass entrance that includes the long-lasting McIntosh brand illuminated in inexperienced LEDs and a stainless-steel housing, the MP100 exhibits off its high quality at first look. Those self same additional long-lasting LEDs are used for a clipping indicator, in addition to sort above the varied knobs and buttons alongside the entrance show. Entrance controls embody separate tiered MM and MC load knobs, an MC / MM enter button, a mono button, a digital output stage button, and a standby button. 

Maybe probably the most thrilling characteristic of the MP100 is its 24-bit analog-to-digital converter. With a USB-B, coaxial, and optical output, the MP100 is prepared for vinyl digitization at 24 bits with a 96khz pattern price (a lot increased than CD’s 16 bits, and commensurate with Blu-ray). It’s a reasonably futuristic characteristic and one which ensures you’ll be capable of rip vinyl information to digital with world-class lossless high quality. Nevertheless, these digital outs aren’t only for ripping FLAC recordsdata; the digital outs additionally assist you to use your MP100 to attach a turntable straight into a house theater system with out a full-sized phono receiver. Moreover, in a nod to pure analog lovers, these digital options will be totally disabled and powered down for individuals who want to cut back potential noise.

The digitizer isn’t the one thrilling characteristic of the McIntosh, nevertheless. It’s a preamp that’s been constructed with love and it exhibits. The MP100 accommodates two discrete phono circuits, one for MM and one for MC, designed with an ultra-low noise ground and flat response in thoughts, that are controllable by way of two loading dials on the entrance of the system. To solidify that low noise ground, the system incorporates a multi-regulated energy provide. 

If it weren’t for the digitizer, the McIntosh would stay aggressive with different high-end handcrafted phono phases in its class just like the Stellar Phono Preamplifier, which additionally contains twin controllable inputs for MM and MC cartridges, much like the MP100s twin circuits. Nevertheless, we expect most audiophiles can recognize native analog-to-digital conversion at 24 bits. Subsequently with its feature-rich supply, distinctive sound dealing with, and completely attractive construct, we expect the McIntosh MP100 is the perfect high-end phono preamp in the marketplace.

Finest finances: ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier

ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier is the best budget phono preamp.

Why it made the reduce: With a low-cut filter, adjustable capacitance, acquire, and a clipping indicator, this preamp places you in management.

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  • MM or MC: MM (MC restricted)
  • Achieve Management and Filters: Sure
  • Weight: 1.1 kilos
  • Measurement: 1.75 x 4.2 x 3.5 inches


  • Extremely versatile
  • Considerably extra options than you’d anticipate on an amp of this worth
  • Inexpensive


Typically, if you consider finances objects, you don’t anticipate them to return loaded with a large characteristic set. The ART DJPREII, nevertheless, is a finances choice that’s an exception. At an inexpensive worth level, the ART affords a superb sound that will not ship a number of the element and depth of higher-end preamps, however will nonetheless create an in depth soundstage with good low finish and nice musical highs.

The ART does good sound, however what makes this preamp stand out is the whole lot it throws into the package deal past that strong sound supply. Maybe its most fun characteristic is a low-end roll-off swap that cuts a number of the boominess from older distorted vinyl, or a turntable’s drive rumble, with out reducing a lot out of the combination. On the entrance of the system, there’s a centrally situated acquire knob (as much as +10 dB), with a handy clip indicator, in addition to the low-cut swap and enter cap button. It’s a whole lot of options for such a superb worth.

Whereas the ART might be able to obtain some outcomes with an MC system, it isn’t almost as optimized for that as it’s for MM. However that’s okay as a result of this product is already loaded for the value. All in all, it’s a finances preamp that ought to do greater than most individuals anticipate out of their phono preamp.


Q: What’s RIAA equalization?

As bassier frequencies require bigger groove widths that take up more room, put extra stress on a file participant’s stylus, and require extra from cutters when reducing a file, RIAA equalization was carried out in 1954 to provoke a typical bodily low-frequency discount and high-frequency increase on the recording finish of all file manufacturing, which is then counteracted with a standardized inverse lowpass EQ on playback, permitting for better file size and longer-lasting needles. Resultantly, RIAA equalization is likely one of the most essential features of a phono preamp, because it normalizes the inherent bodily lowpass reduce into your vinyl.

Q: Does a turntable want a preamp?

Most turntables require a preamp; nevertheless, some include their very own preamps. In case you plug your turntable into your sound system and it begins enjoying at a good quantity, you’re golden. However for those who discover there’s little to no sound produced, then you definitely want one of many phono preamps listed above.

Q: Does a superb phono preamp make a distinction?

Completely. Good phono preamps increase the general stage between your turntable and receiver, whereas additionally delivering advantages like heightened element and a broadened or deeper sound stage. Some phono preamps even provide particular options like analog-to-digital converters. Whereas it’d sound counterintuitive, you may have to supply a good quantity of add-ins to get the purest sign.

Q: Is phono or line higher?

Line is a extra highly effective sign than phono. Since phono sign is a lot decrease than line, a preamp is required to spice up your phono sign earlier than it’s despatched to your receiver.

Q: Is it higher to have a separate phono preamp?

Most discrete phono preamps do a greater job than preamps integrated into turntables or receivers. The most effective phono preamps do an particularly glorious job.

Q: Is RCA the identical as phono?

RCA plugs are used for phono connections.

Q: Is phono the identical as aux?

Aux denotes an auxiliary port. Usually these are used with a 3.5mm jack, which isn’t the identical measurement as a phono cable. Aux ports are often used to attach headphones or digital gamers.

Remaining ideas on choosing the perfect phono preamps

With a lot constructive output contained in such a little bit field, choosing a phono preamp will be an thrilling step in constructing a top-tier audio system. The most effective phono preamps ship strong sonic boosting and a balanced sound stage equalized for the RIAA customary. Generally they ship particular options like an analog-to-digital converter. Increased-end fashions can characteristic twin circuits with tweakable loading settings for transferring magnet and transferring coil cartridges. For many customers, the Moon by Simaudio does the perfect job at offering the whole lot you want in all the fitting measures. The iFi Audio Zen, then again, is an entry-level contender that’s price a search for its balanced output and subsonic filter. Nevertheless, for those who’re in search of the really high-end (and top-dollar) choice, the McIntosh MP100 dishes out inarguable high quality that’s future-proofed with a local 24-bit analog-to-digital converter. No matter you decide, some heavenly hi-fi audio awaits.