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April Snow

Phono Pre-Amp - Explaining it to a newbie

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So for weeks I have been trying to understand why one should pre-amp even if their Amp already has Phono capabilities?

I could not grasp why you need to pre-amp - is that not like "double amping?" (after all I remember how turntables years ago were never with all these "extras").

 

I have struggled to understand it as all the information is so technical for a newbie - but today I came across an article when I was reading about a particular amp written by "Vinyl Me, Please" and the penny FINALLY  dropped.

It was well written in simple english and terms without all the jargon.

 

I am posting this in case it helps someone else understand in the future.

I still do not understand the technical things, but at least now I understand WHY pre-amping is a good idea & I hope the simple explanation helps some other newbie.

I guess now I have something else on my shopping list besides a new turntable.

 

🙂

 

Credit to : VINYL ME PLEASE:

What A Phono Preamplifier Does And Why It’s Required

A phono preamplifier has a tough job—probably the toughest in any system. It needs to amplify the minuscule signal coming from the cartridge to a level suitable for an amplifier or receiver to work with. Just as importantly, it must accurately equalize that signal. You see, records have the bass cut way down in volume when the lacquer is cut. Without a large bass cut, records wouldn’t work: sides would be ridiculously short and no cartridge would be able track it. On top of this, a phono preamplifier must be quiet and match well with a variety of cartridges. It’s the audio equivalent of juggling with chainsaws while blindfolded. How well a phono preamplifier does these tasks has a direct and audible effect on how good records can sound.

 

Even those who have a phono stage built into their amplifier can benefit from a separate unit. Many amplifiers have basic phono preamplifiers built in as a convenience rather than for high performance. An amplifier’s circuits are an electrically noisy environment. Moving the phono circuits out of the amplifier can drastically reduce or eliminate noise, hum and hash. It’s the musical difference between steak at an all you can eat buffet or fine aged beef at an upscale steakhouse.

 

 

Edited by April Snow

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You might want to add 'Phono' to the thread title.

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6 minutes ago, eman said:

You might want to add 'Phono' to the thread title.

Thank you will do - hope it is right now? 🙂

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1 hour ago, April Snow said:

...why you need to pre-amp - is that not like "double amping?"...

Hello, from your post I'm not 100% you have the complete picture.

 

If you run a separate phono preamp its outputs should be routed to a normal CD, line or tape level input.

 

The article you quoted suggests a separate phono preamp offers better performance than one built into an integrated amplifer. It's not about "double" in any way. They are trying to upsell you.

 

1 hour ago, April Snow said:

now I understand WHY pre-amping is a good idea

 

You have to preamp a phono signal, to bring the level and EQ back to a standard baseline: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization

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11 minutes ago, stiben said:

You have to preamp a phono signal, to bring the level and EQ back to a standard baseline: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization

^this

A phono pre-amp does 3 things:

  • applies RIAA EQ to get a "flat" output
  • applies appropriate impedance loading to the cartridge
  • amplifies the signal to "line level"

Some integrated amps/pre-amps have really good phono pre-amps, but most are not as good as a dedicated phono pre-amp.

A "moving coil" cartridge will require higher gain from the phono amp than a "moving magnet" cartridge.

Some phono pre-amps provide different impedance loading options - particularly capacitance

 

Mike

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If you already have a Phono in your amplifier you don't *need* a separate but might want one if it's better.

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It was implied in one of the above posts, but to be explicit: if you were to use a separate phono preamplifier, do not plug its output into the phono in on your pre-amp or integrated amp, whichever you are using.

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11 hours ago, April Snow said:

So for weeks I have been trying to understand why one should pre-amp even if their Amp already has Phono capabilities?

I could not grasp why you need to pre-amp - is that not like "double amping?" (after all I remember how turntables years ago were never with all these "extras").

 

I have struggled to understand it as all the information is so technical for a newbie - but today I came across an article when I was reading about a particular amp written by "Vinyl Me, Please" and the penny FINALLY  dropped.

It was well written in simple english and terms without all the jargon.

 

I am posting this in case it helps someone else understand in the future.

I still do not understand the technical things, but at least now I understand WHY pre-amping is a good idea & I hope the simple explanation helps some other newbie.

I guess now I have something else on my shopping list besides a new turntable.

 

🙂

 

Credit to : VINYL ME PLEASE:

What A Phono Preamplifier Does And Why It’s Required

A phono preamplifier has a tough job—probably the toughest in any system. It needs to amplify the minuscule signal coming from the cartridge to a level suitable for an amplifier or receiver to work with. Just as importantly, it must accurately equalize that signal. You see, records have the bass cut way down in volume when the lacquer is cut. Without a large bass cut, records wouldn’t work: sides would be ridiculously short and no cartridge would be able track it. On top of this, a phono preamplifier must be quiet and match well with a variety of cartridges. It’s the audio equivalent of juggling with chainsaws while blindfolded. How well a phono preamplifier does these tasks has a direct and audible effect on how good records can sound.

 

Even those who have a phono stage built into their amplifier can benefit from a separate unit. Many amplifiers have basic phono preamplifiers built in as a convenience rather than for high performance. An amplifier’s circuits are an electrically noisy environment. Moving the phono circuits out of the amplifier can drastically reduce or eliminate noise, hum and hash. It’s the musical difference between steak at an all you can eat buffet or fine aged beef at an upscale steakhouse.

 

The 'problem' comes from the fact that some people call the device a 'phono preamp' - whereas the correct name AFAIAC is 'phono stage'.  As the article says - this handles a difficult task as it needs to:

a. change a MM signal of ~5mV to 500mV (a gain of x100)

b. change an MC signal - say, 0.5mV - to 500mV (a gain of x1000).

 

This level of amplification is waaay higher than any power amp or preamp!  :)

 

And, as Mike posted, it's also applying the RIAA correction, to get a 'flat' FR on output.

 

Andy

 

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1 hour ago, andyr said:

 

The 'problem' comes from the fact that some people call the device a 'phono preamp' - whereas the correct name AFAIAC is 'phono stage'.  As the article says - this handles a difficult task as it needs to:

a. change a MM signal of ~5mV to 500mV (a gain of x100)

b. change an MC signal - say, 0.5mV - to 500mV (a gain of x1000).

 

This level of amplification is waaay higher than any power amp or preamp!  :)

 

And, as Mike posted, it's also applying the RIAA correction, to get a 'flat' FR on output.

 

Andy

 

Agree with the Phono 'Stage' rather than 'preamp'. A preamp is a whole different thing.

Trying to get ppl to be clear about it is another case of trying to correct the internet. Bloody impossible.

I blame the yanks.

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To me, from an electronics point of view, a 'stage' is a gain stage, and consists on one active amplifying element (valve or transistor or opamp) and associated supporting circuitry.   Any actively amplifying box that is used upstream of a power amplifier is a preamp.

 

My phono preamps have 2 to 3 stages inside them.  

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I always call this component a phono stage 

But the friendly SNA lads have covered it with good answers in the above posts 

 

Having said that I will expand a little on terminology 

A pre amp is a component used to interphase with a “non integrated amp” this type of amp only supplies power at full strength and a preamp is used to handle connections to other components via a switch and volume ect 


But a preamp can also interphase with an integrated amp to take over its internal preamp if it’s design is lacking 

 

An integrated amp is an all in one 

Power amp and preamp all in one 

 

Some preamps and integrated amps have a phono stage included 
In my case I use both phono stage components 

The very fine quality phono stage in my preamp 

And a seperate phono stage as an individual but seperate component 

 

 

 

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I think the article is going for a very simple explanation for someone totally new to the format, without loading in too much technical jargon that would overwhelm a new user... they can learn that later.

 

99% of people just want to plug it in and forget it exists anyway, the other 1% are here (or on a similar forum).

Edited by furtherpale

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Pre Pre, MM phono pre, Pre amp and finally Power amp.

Edited by Batty

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...should we also talk about step-up transformers to add to the confusion? :P

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7 hours ago, eman said:

Agree with the Phono 'Stage' rather than 'preamp'. A preamp is a whole different thing.

Trying to get ppl to be clear about it is another case of trying to correct the internet. Bloody impossible.

I blame the yanks.

Yes I think I have been corrected on this today as I went to look at the Rega 6 as my possible new Turntable - it comes with speed box and the Phone Stage (?) - Pre-Amp (?) - oh darn - another bloody Box then that will plug into my Marantz Amp (but I believe NOT to put that connection into the Marantz Phono inputs on the back) - hahahahahahaha

Edited by April Snow

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7 hours ago, furtherpale said:

I think the article is going for a very simple explanation for someone totally new to the format, without loading in too much technical jargon that would overwhelm a new user... they can learn that later.

 

99% of people just want to plug it in and forget it exists anyway, the other 1% are here (or on a similar forum).

Yes that is why I found it so helpful - because I just could not grasp what it meant and I have been searching for nearly two months for a simple explanation - so this helped me, which is why I posted it because it just might help someone else too down the track I hope. I now have to buy another box "thingy" that is all I know - hahahahaha

The Rega turntable will have to plug into it as the Rega has fixed cables on the back and will not reach directly into my amp as it is 2m away (unlike my AT LP120 that does), but sounds like it will give me a better sound to that anyway, so might as well bite the bullet on it. 

Edited by April Snow

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10 minutes ago, April Snow said:

Yes that is why I found it so helpful - because I just could not grasp what it meant and I have been searching for nearly two months for a simple explanation - so this helped me, which is why I posted it because it just might help someone else too down the track I hope. I now have to buy another box "thingy" that is all I know - hahahahaha

The Rega turntable will have to plug into it as the Rega has fixed cables on the back and will not reach directly into my amp as it is 2m away (unlike my AT LP120 that does), but sounds like it will give me a better sound to that anyway, so might as well bite the bullet on it. 

Something to consider. If you replace TT and Phono 'thingy' both at the same time you won't know which bit is making what difference.

I suggest temporarily putting the TT near your Marantz amp and plugging it straight into the amp Phono.   That way you can hear difference between the TTs.

Then later add Phono Thing and that will let you hear the difference between the separate and the built in one.

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18 minutes ago, eman said:

Something to consider. If you replace TT and Phono 'thingy' both at the same time you won't know which bit is making what difference.

I suggest temporarily putting the TT near your Marantz amp and plugging it straight into the amp Phono.   That way you can hear difference between the TTs.

Then later add Phono Thing and that will let you hear the difference between the separate and the built in one.

That is a good idea, but they are sharpening their pencil for me to make it a combination purchase but they did say if I don't like the Phono I can return it. But I am guessing my Martantz amp (NR1200) seeing it is a receiver that has the TV, BlueRay & media player plugged in to it would be a pretty basic "phono" as opposed to getting a dedicated one for the T/T?

Just got to work out the best one to get.................they are offering a Rega of course.

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1 minute ago, furtherpale said:

 

stunning for the money, easily $800 new to get close to it.

Yes I rang Brisbane HiFi yesterday and they suggested this too. I have been reading up about it which is how I found the explanation I posted, was on a review. 

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2 hours ago, April Snow said:

Yes I rang Brisbane HiFi yesterday and they suggested this too. I have been reading up about it which is how I found the explanation I posted, was on a review. 

I auditioned it on a set of Martin Logans (not my preference) With a Prunaluna 400... it was beyond impressive for the $.

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3 hours ago, April Snow said:

That is a good idea, but they are sharpening their pencil for me to make it a combination purchase but they did say if I don't like the Phono I can return it. But I am guessing my Martantz amp (NR1200) seeing it is a receiver that has the TV, BlueRay & media player plugged in to it would be a pretty basic "phono" as opposed to getting a dedicated one for the T/T?

Just got to work out the best one to get.................they are offering a Rega of course.

Easy then. Buy them together, add them one at a time like I said and take the phono back if you don't want it.

 

One could *expect* a dedicated phono to be better than the one in your multi function receiver but the only way to really tell is to listen to them.

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G'day Folks.    I hope that @April Snow doesn't mind me tagging in on this thread.  Like me, you are certainly very focused on understanding Hi Fi a little better.

 

A visit to hear @Sime's lovely system last week end has fuelled the fire for me, and the research has stepped up a notch.  I will popping up a lot more on the more technical threads.

 

I have a Vincent PHO-8 Phono Stage.  I have a basic understanding of its function.  I have not been able to compare the sound with/without it, as the time it takes to change over makes it difficult to judge.  My ears/brain are leaning a lot right now.  I should be able to listen to each critically, then compare, but that will take time.

 

Q.  Why should we be specific with the name Phono Preamp?  Are there standard Preamps? (for use with other sources). 

      If a Phono Preamp increases the weaker phono signal, does a Preamp do the same with its source signal?

 

I guess my point is, I'm unsure if systems with no phono component, sometimes require, or benefit with a Preamp.

 

I have more questions...

 

 

 

Edited by BuzzzFuzzz

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1 hour ago, BuzzzFuzzz said:

G'day Folks.    I hope that @April Snow doesn't mind me tagging in on this thread.  Like me, you are certainly very focused on understanding Hi Fi a little better.

 

A visit to hear @Sime's lovely system last week end has fuelled the fire for me, and the research has stepped up a notch.  I will popping up a lot more on the more technical threads.

 

I have a Vincent PHO-8 Phono Stage.  I have a basic understanding of its function.  I have not been able to compare the sound with/without it, as the time it takes to change over makes it difficult to judge.  My ears/brain are leaning a lot right now.  I should be able to listen to each critically, then compare, but that will take time.

 

Q.  Why should we be specific with the name Phono Preamp?  Are there standard Preamps? (for use with other sources). 

      If a Phono Preamp increases the weaker phono signal, does a Preamp do the same with its source signal?

 

I guess my point is, I'm unsure if systems with no phono component, sometimes require, or benefit with a Preamp.

 

I have more questions...

 

 

 

Yes , there is a standard non phono Preamplifier.  Commonly used with a Power amp.

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