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Decent Affordable Phono Preamp?

Discussion in 'Turntables' started by garpt, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. garpt

    garpt "Analog is BACK!"

    Plantation, FL.
    Hi all,
    Decided to get back into vinyl; got a beautiful brand new Thorens NOS TD-145 in box, got caught up deciding on what cartridge to buy, and then came the OOOPS!

    I will be running it through my Rotel RSP1066/ RMB1075 combo w/ Paradigm Studio 60 speakers.

    I forgot to realize I WILL NEED A PHONO PREAMP :scratch2:

    THEN, i thought about my Little Dot MKIII HP Preamp....Lovely tube sound, la, la. That's not gonna work, is it?

    SO, I need a recommendation for a decent preamp worthy of my entry- level audiophile turntable, Rotel combo, and Paradigm speakers. I don't want a RadioShack- type cheapo that I will have to replace when it frustrates me, nor can I afford the $400+ range. In fact, I was hoping for something on par with my current setup in the $100-$150, maybe a LITTLE more?

    Does such an animal exist?

    Appreciate the input. Being a 70's/ 80's stereohead, I just assumed anything that looked like a Receiver (the RSP-1066) had a phono input. My bad.




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  2. mhardy6647

    mhardy6647 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Hagerman Bugle - break out the soldering iron.

    plan B - pick up an old 1970s receiver (cheap to free depending on locale and luck), and avail yourself of its phono preamp via its "tape out" jacks.
  3. beatcomber

    beatcomber AK Member

    Lexington, Massachusetts
    I have a $145 Rega Fono Mini and it is superb. It only does moving magnet and HOMC carts though.
  4. Duane

    Duane AK Member Subscriber

    San Diego
  5. Bob_in_OKC

    Bob_in_OKC Addicted Member

    Dallas, Texas
    Rotel RQ970BX (on the used market, obviously).
  6. Condorsat

    Condorsat Audio Enthusiast

    Last edited: Jan 3, 2013


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  7. AvFan

    AvFan AK Subscriber Subscriber

    El Cajon, California
    I'll second the Music Fidelity V-LPS and the Amazon price is very reasonable. It handles both MM and MC so it provides some flexibility.
  8. ictwoody

    ictwoody I like vintage gear — my preamp is from 2007. Subscriber

    Wichita, Kansas
    This is what I got for my TD-145 / Denon DL160 combo. Sounds good to me!

    - Woody
  9. shrinkboy

    shrinkboy AK Subscriber Subscriber

    parasound Z-phono
  10. moinau

    moinau Je me Souviens

    Nova Scotia, Canada
    Your TD145 is an excellent TT,
    Entry level table, hardly.

    With your budget in mind, you should seriously consider the MM Azur 540p phono pre-amp from Cambridge audio or his big brother, the MM/MC Azur 640p

    For the price, you might as well get the 640p, and have the choice of MM or MC cartridge.
    If you get a low output MC cartridge or an MM cartridge, you will be able to use them both with the 640p,

    On the other hand, an MM or a high output MC cartridge can be used with both the 540p or the 640p

  11. garpt

    garpt "Analog is BACK!"

    Plantation, FL.
    I left to make a sandwich and come back to NINE replies!
    Can't beat that for an active forum- and quality answers, too! I have a bit of homework to do, I really want to get going soon. I've been staring at this Thorens box with this TT still wrapped in plastic- even the dustcover. I like the idea of the MM/MC model, thanks moinau and AvFan and Duane. Plus the Music Fidelity gets two votes.....
    Any chance of finding something w/ tubes that's decent in that price range, or is that really not necessary considering a quality analog source, etc....

    thanks all! -GT


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  12. Frank Sol

    Frank Sol Addicted Member


    yaqin ms-22b (MM only)

    I've never seen or heard one in person BUT 2 people I respect from AA gave it a :thmbsp:
  13. JohnVF

    JohnVF Lunatic Member

    The DB-Systems DB-8 is a nice little budget phono preamp.

    Its about the most rudimentary website you could possibly imagine, but the work seems to go into the stage. I replaced an NAD PP2 with it, then kept it around until I moved much farther up the chain of command to replace it. I still use it in a second system.

  14. Celt

    Celt Peanut Head Staff Member Super Mod

    Paragould, Arkansas
  15. garpt

    garpt "Analog is BACK!"

    Plantation, FL.
    Frank Sol-
    The Yaquin does indeed have some fine reviews. The only thing I noticed from a very in-depth "pro" review was what he called a "plummy" bass in many cases. I assume he means a bit bloated, or lack of tightness? So, I see myself spending around $200 for that delivered, then comes the tube rolling....I've already purchased five different pairs of tubes for my Little Dot MKIII....more investment there. Plus, if I want to move into the MC thing, I gotta start all over again.

    Maybe this is where I should try to K.I.S.S. ---save money for some basic TT upgrades and a second cartridge.

    I was also thinking (perhaps too much)- would it be possible to get the Little Dot in the mix somehow or am I getting counterproductive or trying to do something impossible?

    thanks. -GT
  16. marcmorin

    marcmorin AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Yep.......you have to spend a bunch more money to better the DB-8 out of the box.


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  17. ssmith3046

    ssmith3046 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Second the motion on the ART that Celt posted the link for. An amazing deal on a quality product. You can spend more but you don't need to.
  18. absolon

    absolon Super Member

    Another vote for the Rotel RQ-970BX. It is a reasonably good unit that handles MM and MC available used for about $100. If you're willing to get out the soldering iron, it can be considerably upgraded for under $50.

    Some very good information on the modifications here and here.
  19. garpt

    garpt "Analog is BACK!"

    Plantation, FL.
    The DB-8 looks nice, specs wise. Great distortion ##'s especially, probably tough to overload too. It appears to be MC only? A bit lower in the gain dept.....

    absolun-- The ROTEL, since I'm obviously a fan of (well, IMHO, I've heard otherwise,) is a nice, warm sound. So, it should integrate well. There is only one on eBay at this time, currently at $80.00. If you say around $100 should be the price, I may make an offer on it. It appears barely used as described and comes w/ original box, etc. If that works, I'm in. Plus- maybe the mods down the road ; Nichicon and Rubican Blackgate are good components, it appears well made.

    If the ART is as nice as two members have now described it, it is an absolute steal. So that may be the back-up if the Rotel falls through. Is the ART both MM and MC? If so, unless someone has any negative input, I might just say the heck with the bidding stuff and get that NOW!!

    Re: My Little Dot- I guess since no one responded, my idea is not workable? Just trying to get the tube thing in there without buying another tube component.
  20. charles 1973

    charles 1973 Super Member

    How about a pro-ject phonoBoxII or Cambridge Audio Azur 540p. They are both highly rated MM/MC type. I have a Tonar Vinyline 4189 MM/MC I'm pleased with. I believe It's based on the PhonoBox. I believe their all under $200 new, and $50 - 100 used. Any of those would make a fine Entry level Phono stage IMO. I like a subsonic filter though, and only the cambridge has that. It seems the Cambridge is considered one of the better phono stages in many countries judging by reviews. Check out their webpage...to me it's a no brainer. But then I've never heard one. Apparently they can be easily modified to bring them to the next level too.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012

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