Recommend a budget phono preamp
December 31, 2008 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Which budget phono preamp (less than $50) should I buy?

I've got a Technics SL1650 that I'll be connecting to a Yamaha RX-V540, neither of which has an integrated phono preamp. I'd like to pay as little as possible for that separate preamp, certainly under $50. I understand that I'll be sacrificing sound quality vs. a higher-low-end $100-$200 model, but frankly I just want to play my records. So, let's have your recommendations for something that's less than $50 but doesn't sound like complete crap.
posted by The Michael The to Shopping (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The little NAD PP-2 is out of your price range, so the phono preamps here fit the bill, with the TC-750 (Amazon reviews here) coming in under the $50 threshold.
posted by holgate at 10:02 AM on December 31, 2008

If you can bump it up to $89 I've enjoyed my Cambridge Audi Azur 540P with a NAD turntable for my living room system.
posted by plexi at 10:40 AM on December 31, 2008

Cheap-ass phono pres are going to be pretty much the Pyle or Behringer options. Not sure how either sound, but searching "phono preamp" on Google will get you their very-usable Shopping filters.
posted by rhizome at 1:19 PM on December 31, 2008

I have always gotten a loud buzzing noise from cheap preamps, even when grounded. For superior sound I now use an old receiver from the salvation army as a preamp between my record player and my new stereo.
posted by abirae at 1:57 PM on December 31, 2008

I think you'll get much more value if you can move up to the $100 price range with something like Cambridge Audio plexi mentioned, or this open box Parasound zPhono. I've heard both those, and they're good for the money. It looks like Needle Doctor carries a few model in the $29-$69 range. I haven't heard any of those, but it's a good bet that Needle Doctor wouldn't carry utter crap. The best way to go would be to lurk on the Audiogon classifieds until something suitable shows-up (or post a want-to-buy). One can often get some real bargains on Audiogon as it's individual audiophiles selling to other individual audiophile. The downside, of course, is that finding what you want at a good price takes patience. Enjoy the tunes.
posted by paulg at 4:43 PM on December 31, 2008

I would check out some a/v forums and see what the "experts" say. A phono preamp isn't all that complicated, there's no reason there shouldn't be a perfectly serviceable one in your price range.
posted by gjc at 7:22 PM on December 31, 2008

Response by poster: I ended up ordering the TC-750LC from after reading enough good reviews and a certain number of "in blind comparisons, we really liked the TC-750" posts on various audio forums. The $100 open box zPhono was tempting, but in the end I chose to stick to my budget. I'm sure I'll trade up in the future, but for now, having something that simply makes my turntable usable is all I need to be happy.
posted by The Michael The at 2:21 PM on January 1, 2009

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