- 1. Cambridge Azur 651P MM/MC Phono Preamplifier
- 2. Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools
- 3. Mjolnir Balanced Headphone Amplifier
- 4. Pro-Ject Audiophile Audio Component Phonograph Preamplifier
- 5. Pro-Ject Audio – Tube Box DS
- Best Phono Preamp Under 1000 Dollars – Informative Guide
- What is a phono preamp?
- What is the best phono cartridge?
Many people wonder why people bother with making vinyl setups. There are obviously much cheaper methods, like listening to music from the computer, but there is a certain touch to the vinyl setup. The vinyl sound system provides an old school feel to the music while offering a soothing atmosphere that is imbued with the sound itself. That’s where we come to the phono preamplifier. It is a device that boosts the turntable output and makes it compatible with modern electronics. Standardized equalization is also added to the mix, so you get a more modern sound experience when you get yourself the best phono preamp under 1000.
While many people turn around from vinyl setups because of the high prices, you don’t need to pay a lot for a decent vinyl setup.
Whether your reason for getting a phono preamp is, one thing is sure. They modernize the sound output, and because of that, they are found built-in in more and more turntables.
Choosing the right turntable setup or the proper phono preamp for your setup is a tedious task, and we’re here to help you with that. Enter our best phono preamp under 1000 dollars guide:
1. Cambridge Azur 651P MM/MC Phono Preamplifier
We have a real winner on the phono preamplifier front. It does a great job of boosting the vinyl output sound and will make the output sound even more enjoyable. The price may be a little on the higher side, but the features you get with this phono preamp are not to be missed. This is definitely the best phono preamp under 1000 dollars.
Features and Specifications:
Environment-friendly – the London-based manufacturer, Cambridge Azur shows its care for the environment with this phono preamp. This phono preamp features a power supply that cleverly saves power while not in use, reducing electricity costs and saving you lots of money.
Exceptional RIAA – you will hear every sound clearly thanks to the multi-parallel capacitors inside this phono preamp. Thanks to this feature, the RIAA accuracy (the index used to determine how clear the sound is) is significantly increased. That means that you will hear sounds from as low as 0.3 dB to 50 kHz very clearly and that is precisely why this is the best phono preamp under 1000 dollars on the market right now.
Eliminates Sound Disturbances – what further establishes the fact that this is an ideal phono preamp for an audiophile, is the fact that it does an excellent job of reducing rumble and other sound disturbances of the vinyl. The thing that does this job is the subsonic filter integrated into the preamp itself, reducing the rumble of low frequencies. This boosts the sound considerably and makes it much more enjoyable for everyone. The circuitry inside this phono preamp is also made with reducing the sound distortions in mind.
Phono Cartridge Support – the 651P uses a sophisticated design when talking about electronic circuits. That means that it supports two of the most popular phono cartridge types in modern turntables: Moving Magnet and Moving Coil. Whether your cartridge preference is, you can stay sure that the sound input will be phenomenal and won’t disappoint. The discreet transistors integrated into this phono preamplifier make sure that the sound gains more and more stages, making it much more enjoyable for every audiophile.
✓ Increases the sound performance substantially
✓ Supports two most common phono cartridge types
✓ Eliminates low-frequency rumble with great efficiency
✗ Works with only 120V power
✗ A little pricey
2. Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface with Pro Tools
Versatility is the main word that comes to mind when talking about this phono preamp. It doesn’t support only vinyl records; it supports a wide range of devices. What’s even better is that it comes at a budget price and that makes it the best budget phono preamp on the market that will satisfy every audiophile.
Features and Specifications:
Compatible with Many Devices – you can connect this phono preamp to a vinyl player, but only if it features a USB 2.0 port. Many modern vinyl players have one, but you can definitely rule out older players. The compensation for this is the support of a wide range of devices, from instruments to Mac and PC. You can also connect a microphone and headphones to this phono preamp to elevate the sound experience to the next level. This phono preamp emphasizes the versatility; it is made for guitarists but also for people who want to ramp up the sound to the next level. That’s why this is the best budget phono preamp on the market.
Box Design and Superb Sound Conversion – the boxing of this phono preamp are made to look like a classic preamplifier, and it definitely succeeds in providing that flavor. What complements the box design itself is what is inside the box. The Focusrite converters make sure that the sound output is crisp and clear, even at low frequencies. Actually, this phono preamp amplifies sound rates up to 192kHz, which makes every sound more enjoyable. The extremely low latency of 2.74 ms makes sure that you won’t need DSP for your plug-ins.
Additional Tools – with this budget phono preamp, you also get some tools that will greatly complement the control over the sound quality. That is a great thing for people who take the music seriously. You can install the Focusrite Creative Pack, Ableton Live Lite and other packs to enhance the music creation process as well as the overall sound quality.
✓ Very cheap
✓ Great input/output option
✓ Boosts sound greatly
✓ Additional tools included in the package
✗ Doesn’t work great with Windows 10
3. Mjolnir Balanced Headphone Amplifier
This phono preamp is one of a kind. The technology implemented inside the box is quite sophisticated and makes it unique. It delivers balanced amplification that will utterly boost the sound quality for the better. While it’s leaning on the expensive side, the possibilities for sound amplification are not to be ignored.
Features and Specifications:
Quiet and Powerful – what makes this phono preamp extraordinary is that it uses topology of Circlotron style. This complex topology uses JFET inputs and MOSFET outputs that are on a high voltage. That means that you don’t get two amplification in one box with one inverted run. It is a balanced stage that will deliver the sound of very low complexity and high performance to boot. With this advanced topology, you will get high amps with almost no sound distortion. That’s because this phono preamp delivers 8W RMS per sound channel, which is as low as it can get with such power.
Unique Topology – we’ve already told that this phono preamp has a unique and straightforward topology integrated. What makes it unique is that it functions in a push-pull manner. That allows every Mjolnir user to use only the best sound channel, N-channel MOSFET. This output channel is great because it greatly simplifies the output stage and delivers sound with zero distortion.
Thoroughly Balanced – thanks to the input and output balance, the Mjolnir phono preamp delivers exceptional sound quality for the mid-price range. You won’t find a similar phono preamp on the market, and that’s what makes this phono preamp one of the best phono preamp under 1000 dollars. What makes this balance possible is the RKS27 Alps volume pot with a four gang design. When you simplify all of this in a more natural context, that would mean that you get eight times more output power and less distortion and noise than the competition. That’s a lot of power for such a price.
✓ Balanced headphone outputs make for exceptional sound
✓ Stays quiet while offering lots of power
✓ Justifies the price tag
✓ Uses powerful technology to achieve the best results
✗ No single-ended output
✗ Can get hot
4. Pro-Ject Audiophile Audio Component Phonograph Preamplifier
With this phono preamp under 1000 dollars from Pro-Ject, you get audiophile quality sound for a very low price. The unique features integrated into the box make sure that this phono preamp is one of the best when it comes to analog sound quality. Superb sound quality and frequency range make this phono preamp one of the best on the market, one of the cheapest too.
Features and Specifications:
Affordable Performance – thanks to the high-quality technology that is implemented inside the box, this phono amplifier boasts some impressive results. The circuitry is optimized for a dual-mono sound that enhances the separation of sound channels with superb results. Amplification is audiophile-tier, and that means that all capacitors and modules for amplification work to improve the sound quality at all frequencies with less distortion. You get all of this audiophile-grade features for an affordable price.
Unique Versatility – almost every Hi-Fi system with an analog input is improved with this phono preamp from Pro-Ject thanks to the impressive subsonic filter. It eliminates sound distortions from low frequencies as -12Db to 20Hz. The sound quality in a whole is significantly improved thanks to that, and every feature inside this phono preamp makes sure that the sound distortions are lower as possible. Every setting regarding cartridges and sound gain is adjustable to meet the needs of the power user as well as a regular user.
✓ Great features for such a low price
✓ Versatility for every kind of user
✓ Every sound is present equally thanks to the modern technology implementations
✗ Overall design leaves something to be desired
5. Pro-Ject Audio – Tube Box DS
Yet another one of Pro-Ject creations, this tube phono preamp does many great things to improve the sound quality. The overall tube output design makes sure that this phono preamp eliminates common sound imperfections found at lower frequencies. Other quality-of-life features make sure that this is the best tube phono preamp on the market right now.
Features and Specifications:
Double Cartridge Support – this tube phono preamp supports two types of phono cartridges: Moving Magnet (MM) and Moving Coil (MC). Both of these are the most common phono preamp cartridges, and both of them offer superb performance regarding sound quality.
Versatile Sound Gain – what even makes this tube phono preamp better is the versatility of sound gain adjust options. You can choose from 40-60 Db. The choices you have available are just enough for your audio experience to be much more enjoyable than ever.
High Capacity – you already know that this phono preamp has the features that substantially boost the sound experience, and here’s one more to the mix. You can quickly adjust the capacity of this tube phono preamp between 100 and 200 pF. You also have a capacitance switch for Moving Magnet cartridges to improve the sound quality further and eliminate the sound disturbances.
Excellent Box Design – the phono preamp itself features metal casing that makes it durable and more efficient. It will also be less prone to vibration that may cause sound disturbances. An efficient way to unlock the full potential of this tube phono preamp.
Outstanding Circuit Technology – Dr.Sykora made some great circuitry when building this tube phono preamp, and made it one of the leading tube preamps on the market. It offers RIAA equalization of high precision, and that makes sure that all your vinyl records sound more clear and more immersive than ever.
✓ Superb design and components
✓ Supports MM and MC cartridges
✓ Many options for sound amplification
✗ A little pricey
Best Phono Preamp Under 1000 Dollars – Informative Guide
Now that we’ve come to the end of our best phono preamp under 1000 dollars review section, it’s time to inform you more about the phono preamps themselves. When you choose from a selection of phono preamps, it’s essential to know which crucial specifications that make them different from the rest of the pack.
There are many crucial features to look for on phono preamps. Here are some of them:
This essential feature is very important, especially for Moving Coil cartridge users. It is used to describe and measure electronic signals that travel through cable wire and switches. Usually, you can measure it in picofarads.
You should always look for phono preamps that can have their capacitance adjusted. That is because the high capacitance values result in a duller sound output. On the other hand, lower than recommended values will result in more distorted sound.
Many vinyl enthusiasts try to build their phono preamp configurations. What is good to know is that the phono preamp circuitry is very important in determining how useful the preamp itself is.
Other than boosting the sound gain of the vinyl, phono preamps also try to tame that boost with the help of integrated circuits. Generally speaking, the main circuit component that determines if it does a good job of doing that is a resistor. Resistors only let some certain frequencies through, and the most optimal resistor design can push out the unwanted sound disturbances you get above 30 kHz.
Summing up, always look for resistors that have more Ohms because they will be more efficient in taking out the unwanted sound disturbances out of the original recording.
When talking about input gain, you need to know that there are two factors in determining it. First, you need to know that there are two types of circuits in phono preamps: Solid State and Vacuum Tube.
Solid-state designs achieve higher input gains and lower noise performance easier than vacuum tube designs. They also use operational amplifier circuits that are crucial for the input gain capacity as well as the overall character of the sound.
Tube circuits also sound great, but if you want to achieve maximum performance with them, you’ll have to get a few more accessories.
Many of the phono preamps on the market use built-in equalization modes like RIAA. They do a subtle job of correcting the signal of the cartridge and its response to some frequencies. The thing that you have to know with passive equalization is that it tries to mimic the sound of the historic vinyl.
There are many globally recognized passive equalization brands like RIAA, Decca, and Columbia. All of them are great choices in making your records sound like the real ones.
Those are the crucial features that you just have to know when choosing a phono preamp. Now that you know something about that, let’s move on to the frequent questions that phono preamp buyers ask when trying to find an ideal phono preamp match:
What is a phono preamp?
This is a great question, as many people just try to rush into a buy without actually knowing why do they need a phono preamp. Phono preamplifiers are analog devices that are standalone and boost the electromagnetic signals that are received by record player cartridges.
They often have versatile circuitry because their task is to amplify the extra-low signal levels of two types of cartridges. Higher-end phono preamps offer more control over the factors such as capacitance and input gain that is great to have if you have records from different eras. The general consensus is, if you have more control, the things will sound better.
This should clear up the question of what is a phono preamp and make you ready for choosing an ideal phono preamp for your vinyl setup.
What is the best phono cartridge?
We can divide record cartridges into two categories: Moving Magnet (MM) and Moving Coil (MC). Each one of them has their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing between the two of them will depend greatly on your taste and collection. Each cartridge type has its own sound profile, and that’s what makes them different.
Moving Magnet cartridges are definitely the most common and are popular with ordinary vinyl users. They offer high output potential, and that is great for Hi-Fi preamps as well as AV processors. MM cartridges are made of two magnets that support stereo channels at the end of the stylus.
Even though Moving Magnet cartridges offer high output potential, the weight of the magnets featured inside affects the tracking of the stylus and makes it less precise. That will affect certain sound types considerably if you’re not careful.
On the other hand, we have Moving Coil cartridges that are a reverse of the Moving Magnet cartridges. Instead of magnets, they feature coils that are much lighter than magnets. Thanks to that, they offer much better stylus tracking, and that results in better sound quality.
Unfortunately, they produce much smaller currents than magnets do, and that is a considerable disadvantage. The sound produced by the Movin Coil cartridge, in turn, offers excellent sonic detail, but the sound output greatly suffers.
Vinyl record players enjoy a little renaissance in the recent days, and not without reason. They offer superb sound quality that harkens back to the golden days of record players. Many modern record players just don’t match the same sound experience like older players do, but there is a great accessory that fixes just that.
It is a phono preamp, an analog device that boosts the sound signal from the vinyl player and enhances it to sound more proficient and clear. There are many types of phono preamps on the market, each with its own sets of pros and cons.
We hope that we have shed some light on your choice of best phono preamp under 1000 dollars. Ramp up your sound now!