Turntable Phono Preamps: Explained – Do You Need One?

David Gick
David
Chief Content Editor at - searchturntables

Sarah, a Philadelphia-based product review writer, boasts 7.5 years of experience in musical equipment, specifically turntables. She has contributed to various online publications, offering expertise on the latest gear. Outside of writing and attending concerts, Sarah enjoys family time and her pets.

David Gick
David
Chief Content Editor at - searchturntables

Sarah, a Philadelphia-based product review writer, boasts 7.5 years of experience in musical equipment, specifically turntables. She has contributed to various online publications, offering expertise on the latest gear. Outside of writing and attending concerts, Sarah enjoys family time and her pets.

Turntable phono preamps are essential components in many vinyl playback systems, which amplify and equalize the weak electrical signals a phono cartridge produces. This article will explain phono preamps, why they are necessary, the differences between built-in and external preamps, and a table comparing various phono preamps. Additionally, we will present some statistics related to vinyl records and turntable sales.

  1. What is a Phono Preamp?
  2. Why Do You Need a Phono Preamp?
  3. Built-in vs. External Phono Preamps
  4. Comparison Table: Types of Phono Preamps
  5. Vinyl Record and Turntable Sales Statistics

What is a Phono Preamp? 

A phono preamp, also known as a phono stage or RIAA preamp, is an electronic device that amplifies and equalizes the weak electrical signals generated by a phono cartridge when it reads the grooves of a vinyl record. The phono preamp applies the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) equalization curve, compensating for the reduced bass and boosted treble frequencies used during the record-cutting process.

Why Do You Need a Phono Preamp? 

The signals produced by a phono cartridge are much weaker than those of other audio sources, such as CD players or digital audio players. A phono preamp is necessary to amplify the cartridge’s output to a level suitable for amplification by a stereo system or powered speakers. Additionally, the RIAA equalization applied by the preamp restores the original frequency balance of the recording, ensuring accurate playback.

Built-in vs. External Phono Preamps

Some turntables include a built-in phono preamp, simplifying setup and reducing the need for additional components. However, audiophiles often prefer external phono preamps due to their potential for better sound quality and the ability to upgrade or customize the preamp independently of the turntable.

Comparison Table: Types of Phono Preamps

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Built-in Preamp Simplified setup, lower cost Potential for lower sound quality, limited upgrade options
External Preamp Improved sound quality, upgrade flexibility Additional component, potentially higher cost

Vinyl Record and Turntable Sales Statistics

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), vinyl record sales in the United States increased by 28.7% from 2019 to 2020, reaching $619.6 million in revenue. This growth in the vinyl market has contributed to increased demand for turntables and related components, including phono preamps. Although there is limited statistical data on phono preamp sales, the rising interest in vinyl records suggests a growing market for these devices.

Summary

Turntable phono preamps are essential components in many vinyl playback systems, which amplify and equalize the weak electrical signals a phono cartridge produces. They are necessary to achieve accurate playback and the correct output level for amplification by a stereo system or powered speakers. While some turntables include built-in preamps, external phono preamps can offer better sound quality and upgrade flexibility. The growing vinyl market has increased demand for turntables and related components, including phono preamps.

David Gick
DavidChief Content Editor at - searchturntables

Sarah, a Philadelphia-based product review writer, boasts 7.5 years of experience in musical equipment, specifically turntables. She has contributed to various online publications, offering expertise on the latest gear. Outside of writing and attending concerts, Sarah enjoys family time and her pets.

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