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Thread: phono pre amp

  1. #1
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    phono pre amp

    I am looking for a preamp for a my fathers kenwood turntable. i'm not sure what model it is but we did have it on a marantz 4025 and it seemed to sound real good. i am planning on taking it to school with me and having it over the summer but want to use my newer Yamaha receiver that does not have phono input. things i have looked at include the pro-ject phono box II. i would like to spend less than $150 but get something decent. Any suggestions in my price range or even places to look?

    thanks!
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  2. #2
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    you could always try this one:
    http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/summar...&Title=Summary

    the phonobox II is a very good one for it's price, but you pay more because it also supports MC carts, which have a lower output than the regular MM carts. the cambridge audio is MM only, and of a similar quality as the phonobox, but only MM, so you pay less...

    Hope this helps.

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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Good suggestion basite. The Cambridge is available for $99 from AudioAdvisor. Here is a link. http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=CA540P
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  4. #4
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    Lessee...

    ...college dorm...I'm gonna' take a guess absolute audiophile quality may not be a parmount issue when filled with half-a-keg...plus $100+ seems a bit high for typical music enjoyed by college-aged listeners, so try here, 1st one on the left @ $29.50 looks about right:

    http://www.phonopreamps.com

    ...It does what it needs to...I have a similar unit that's alive and kickin' for over 35-yrs AND it works quite well...plus if it "grows legs" it's way easier on the wallet...

    jimHJJ(...it's the realist in me...)
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  5. #5
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    As long as you stay away from this:

    http://www.needledoctor.com/Bellari-VP-29-Phono-Preamp

    you will be okay, but not so sure about the TC400 from the site RL suggested.

    I would say go with what Basite mentioned. Assuming your cart produces more than 2.5mV of output.

    I would maybe look for used Phono pre on Agon. NAD PP-2 with upgraded Walwart power supply seem to pop up there couple of times a week.

    Best wishes

  6. #6
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    i somewhat resent the comments made by RL. but i guess i have to deal with that. though i do live in a rented house with my own room and component rack that is isolated from the floor. I have infinity primus 150s until i can take transducer theory as a class and build and design speakers to kick the socks off of anything i have ever heard, except for maybe the custom built set in the recording studio. anyway, i listen to everything but want to focus on jazz and folk/country in my TT setup because that is what most of the vinyl i have access too. I am sure drinking and spinning will happen, but who does not like to relax after a hard week with a beverage and some great jazz? I will also have a vinyl of our pep band when they come in from being stamped.

    thanks for the suggestions, i like the Cambridge one and will keep an eye on agon for a while. I would consider the cheaper one if i did not plan on using this stuff for a long time, i like to invest in good equipment from the start so i don't have to wast money buying it later.

    thanks.
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  7. #7
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by herm0016
    i somewhat resent the comments made by RL. but i guess i have to deal with that. though i do live in a rented house with my own room and component rack that is isolated from the floor. I have infinity primus 150s until i can take transducer theory as a class and build and design speakers to kick the socks off of anything i have ever heard, except for maybe the custom built set in the recording studio. anyway, i listen to everything but want to focus on jazz and folk/country in my TT setup because that is what most of the vinyl i have access too. I am sure drinking and spinning will happen, but who does not like to relax after a hard week with a beverage and some great jazz? I will also have a vinyl of our pep band when they come in from being stamped.

    thanks for the suggestions, i like the Cambridge one and will keep an eye on agon for a while. I would consider the cheaper one if i did not plan on using this stuff for a long time, i like to invest in good equipment from the start so i don't have to wast money buying it later.

    thanks.
    Sounds very familiar to me. I just graduated college 4-5 months ago, and was ina similar situation. Dont exactly know what RL said, but you will learn to ignore his cynism if you choose to stick around.

    <$150 phono stages mentioned will allow you to enjoy your music for a long long time, if not the final purchase.

    I would look for something with at least 40db gain on MM gain stage and 58db gain for MC stage..


    Best Wishes

  8. #8
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    If you are considering used add the Creek OBH-8 to your list. It is incredible for the money. A Class A circuit little gem. I had to shell out mucho clams to find a phono stage to give me a significan improvement over the OBH-8.

  9. #9
    Forum Regular royphil345's Avatar
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    The Cambridge 540 really isn't as good as the 640 often recommended. The RIAA deviation specs aren't great. Parts quality not great. There's more difference between the models than just MC capability. Haven't heard a 540...

    The TC-750 from http://www.phonopreamps.com ain't bad at all. May even better the Cambridge 540. I probably wouldn't go any cheaper than that though.

    I haven't heard the Pro-Ject Phono Box... Haven't heard any complaints for the money... http://www.needledoctor.com/Online-S...4Pa38Ta38Kc3z0

    The NAD PP-2 has an extremely smooth top-end when used with an upgraded power supply and sounds better than it has a right to for the money IMHO. I have one now and have tried it with the original power supply and one with a higher mA rating. It wouldn't have been a keeper with the original power supply (too "closed in"). With the upgraded one, it's the best I've heard for the money (touch more open sounding and SMOOTH, makes all the difference). There's a seller on Audiogon that sells them with an upgraded power supply included. Wouldn't buy it elsewhere with the original. http://cls.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls....hon&1179269002
    Last edited by royphil345; 04-10-2007 at 06:11 AM.

  10. #10
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    Well...

    Quote Originally Posted by herm0016
    i somewhat resent the comments made by RL. but i guess i have to deal with that. though i do live in a rented house with my own room and component rack that is isolated from the floor. I have infinity primus 150s until i can take transducer theory as a class and build and design speakers to kick the socks off of anything i have ever heard, except for maybe the custom built set in the recording studio. anyway, i listen to everything but want to focus on jazz and folk/country in my TT setup because that is what most of the vinyl i have access too. I am sure drinking and spinning will happen, but who does not like to relax after a hard week with a beverage and some great jazz? I will also have a vinyl of our pep band when they come in from being stamped.

    thanks for the suggestions, i like the Cambridge one and will keep an eye on agon for a while. I would consider the cheaper one if i did not plan on using this stuff for a long time, i like to invest in good equipment from the start so i don't have to wast money buying it later.

    thanks.
    ...I suppose apologies are in order...we have it on your word that what we hear and see in the various media re: problem/binge drinking on college campuses (or would that be campii? My Latin's rusty) is blown out of proportion...I stand corrected...however, back to the topic at hand...

    Consider the source...by that I mean your TT/cart combo...Now don't get me wrong, I consider myself a champion of vintage, mid-priced gear, but your Kenwood isn't a cherry Micro-Sieki equipped with an SME arm and a hand-built Koetsu cart...

    Consider the listening environment...It's not a media room...it's not insulated from it's surroundings a la a recording studio...it's basically a room in a house that you will be sharing with a few more folks, whose POV re: drinking and program material may diverge widely from yours...ultimately volume wars may ensue...

    Consider your electronics...Yamaha...It's not a Manley Steelhead feeding a Krell or Musical Fidelity...

    What you require is a good, serviceable pre-amp...one that has separation specs equal to or better than that of your cartridge, that applies accurate RIAA equalization, that will not adversly affect the signal path due to in/out loading problems and will provide a sufficient gain to the Yammies line level inputs...

    Caveat emptor...price can be misleading and chances are the specs between A and Z vary very little after a certain price-point and in all honesty, given the operating environment, I can see no reason to spend significantly more than the $30 quoted...and chances are, X years down the road you will be looking to upgrade anyway and today's $150 expense may or may not provide what you want at that point in time...but that's just me...

    Alternatively, you can even DIY it, particularly since you plan on building speakers at some point in time...if you Google it, I'm fairly certain you will find sufficient sources for schematics and parts...

    And BTW, while there are exceptions to the rule, most mainstream studios use commercially available monitor-type loudspeakers and not custom units...it's more about how the acousticians integrate them into the listening environment.

    jimHJJ(...again, it's the realist in me...)
    Last edited by Resident Loser; 04-10-2007 at 09:01 AM.
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  11. #11
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    we have a set of custom built 3 way stacks that weigh in at a few hundred lbs each. all built out of High density fiber board. we use these when mixing and for most of our work. we also usually play the recording on the big d&b loudspeaker system in our performance hall and on the more modest speakers in the video editing room/conference room before we bounce it. I do understand what you are saying about the equipment i am using, i just picked up an old kenwood tuner today, (i love analog tuning) I will think about a DIY one, i guess that may be the best way to go seeing as i know enough about the amps and other components to build it. thanks.
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  12. #12
    Forum Regular royphil345's Avatar
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    I've found the phono stage to be almost as important as the cartridge for getting good sound out of vinyl.

    I found my Rotel unlistenable after awhile. No way I could have lived with the NAD and the original power supply. The NAD with a power supply upgrade puts out smooth, balanced sound and creates a reasonably stabile soundstage. Certainly lacking in detail and dynamics compared to pricier stuff... but definitely worth every penny IMHO.

    That $30.00 phono stage has a S/N rating of 50 and no specs posted for RIAA deviation. Not really good enough for a decent mid-fi system. Phonopreamps.com has become famous for offering the much better TC-750 at a very reasonable price.

    As non-offensive as the NAD sounds for the money... I don't think I'm gonna' be able to resist this deal for too long... http://store.tivocommunity.com/merch...Category_Code= It's supposed to sound reasonably sweet and very dynamic right out of the box. Very upgradeable. Gobs of gain available, might come in handy for my vinyl to CD transfers. JRA will never respect me until I buy something with some tubes in it, although this is a hybrid unit...
    Last edited by royphil345; 04-10-2007 at 05:26 PM.

  13. #13
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    I tried a NAD phono stage,not sure the model, but I've heard better receiver preamps. NAD should have used a good power supply in the first place because the one I tried was pretty bad.

    Depending on what line that Kenwood tuner was out of it could be a real keeper. No matter what one thinks of Kenwood they made some fine tuners. The better ones keeping pace with very expensive higher end units.

  14. #14
    Forum Regular royphil345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Peabody
    I tried a NAD phono stage,not sure the model, but I've heard better receiver preamps. NAD should have used a good power supply in the first place because the one I tried was pretty bad.
    I completely agree. The design and parts inside the thing are pretty decent. There's no way the designer intended it to be powered by that crappy, little 100mA unregulated power supply. They probably ordered a truckload of them before they realized their mistake or something... Had a price target in mind and made a bad move trying to meet it...

    It sounds completely unacceptable with the stock power supply. Something like the TC-750 from Phonopreamps.com would beat it. You can actually hear it starving for power. Frequency extremes just disappear and any attempt at dynamics sounds like a thud.

    I got a 750mA Hewlett Packard power supply off eBay. It's not regulated, but voltge drop becomes much less of a factor when the power supply doesn't have to work to anywhere near it's capacity. The NAD still sounds on the warm side, but the detals and frequency extremes aren't missing. No "thud" during dynamic passages. Very nice, balanced, stabile, "round" soundstage that you can tell someone went through some trouble to create at that price. Best entry-level phono stage I've heard. It's really too bad they decided to sell it with that crappy power supply, when for about $5.00 more per unit they could have become known for selling THE entry-level phono stage. Definitely tops my Rotel after the power supply upgrade. Rotel sounds disturbingly thin and a little grainy in comparison.
    Last edited by royphil345; 04-10-2007 at 06:46 PM.

  15. #15
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    Thanks for all the great suggestions. I think I will look for the NAD. I can find or build my own power supply if i need to. Now i just have to wait till i have some cash to spend. i picked up a rack made of 5/8 threaded rod and mdf to set everything in once i have it.
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