Phono Preamp Reviews

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Michael Fremer  |  Apr 25, 2019  |  26 comments
For almost two decades now British phono preamp manufacturer Graham Slee has been designing, producing and selling specialized high quality phono preamplifiers. His latest is the $1449 Accession, an unusually versatile model that includes a volume pot, which means the Accession can be used as preamplifier to drive a power amplifier. If all you plan on doing is playing records using one turntable and a moving magnet cartridge (or a high output MC or moving iron), the Accession obviates the need for a separate preamplifier.
Michael Fremer  |  Apr 24, 2019  |  5 comments
Pro-Ject’s DS2 USB combines in one chassis a versatile MM/MC phono preamplifier and a high resolution A/D converter capable of digitizing at up to 192/24 bit PCM or 128 DSD (A/K/A “double DSD”). It’s a feature-packed unit that includes 2 independently adjustable phono inputs and a line input and both USB and optical TOSlink digital outputs as well as an analog output. An outboard 18V “Wall Wart” powers it.

Malachi Lui  |  Feb 25, 2019  |  26 comments
An Amazon search for “phono preamp for turntable” (the last two words theirs) will yield approximately 395 results, and above most affordable Pro-Ject, Cambridge Audio, U-Turn, and Music Hall phono preamps are those of Pyle, a company that makes most every kind of easily affordable product; hifi and A/V components, pro audio products, fitness trackers, subwoofers for boats, kitchen appliances, pest controlling devices, and even security systems! Pyle makes several budget phono preamps with the same specifications, including the $18.99 (MSRP) PP444. Two of Pyle’s preamps have well over 1,000 reviews on Amazon (mostly from real humans as far as I can tell), so quite a few people are buying these for their audio setups. Pyle’s audio products haven’t gotten much coverage, so I gave the PP444 a try.

Michael Fremer  |  Jan 14, 2019  |  15 comments
Cambridge Audio's Duo is a compact, attractive, lightweight (2.1 Lbs) low priced phono preamplifier that will surprise you with its solid sonic performance as well as its low price. It certainly surprised me! It also features a headphone amplifier so it makes for a great desktop or dorm room accessory.

Michael Fremer  |  Sep 04, 2018  |  12 comments
The Lejonklou Gaio MM phono preamplifier is as simple to use as Swedish designer Fredrik Lejonklou’s name can be difficult to spell or pronounce until you get the hang of it. The Gaio has been referenced in various AnalogPlanet moving magnet phono preamp shoot-outs but it’s never been given a stand-alone review.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 24, 2018  |  14 comments
First released in 2010, Parasound’s JC 3 MM/MC phono preamplifier began as a dual-mono John Curl-designed phono section retro-fit for its JC2 line stage. With vinyl’s popularity on the rise, Parasound’s Richard Schram figured a stand-alone version priced right might find an audience.

Michael Fremer  |  Feb 24, 2018  |  4 comments
Phono preamps arrive here by the stack. It’s difficult keeping up. To be honest, Arcam’s rPhono arrived before the JC3 Jr. but here, anything with John Curl’s name attached automatically goes to the head of the queue, especially considering the Jr.’s remarkable $1495 price.

Michael Fremer  |  Nov 04, 2017  |  16 comments
CiAudio (better known as Channel Island Audio) is an American-manufacturer of high quality, moderately priced electronics that you can explore at the company’s website. The PEQ 1 MKII is built to an unexpectedly high standard given its $995 price tag and American heritage. The outside is a sturdy milled aluminum chassis unusual at this price point as are the highest quality panel mounted Cardas™ RCA jacks. Inside is a dual mono design with each input jack going to an identically laid out, independent mono circuit, which helps to eliminate crosstalk.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 17, 2017  |  17 comments
First let's all agree that these short clip tests are useful and fun but must be taken as "for entertainment purposes only."

For those joining late, we twice asked the question "Should You Buy a MM-Only Phono Preamp If You Own a MM Cartridge"?, each time offering "blind listening" and voting. The first time was way back in May of 2017 where you could listen and vote for one of eight phono preamps, some MM-only and some MM/MC running in MM.

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 30, 2017  |  24 comments
AnalogPlanet asked the question Should You Buy a MM Only Phono Preamp If you are using a MM cartridge? and then provided readers with capsules of 8 phono preamps followed by 8 unidentified 96k/24 bit files, asking readers to listen and vote "blind".

Michael Fremer  |  Jun 21, 2017  |  1 comments
Posted stories go to the bottom of the page and then disappear but the eight phono preamps compared story lives on and there's still time to vote for your favorite in this blind listening test.

Michael Fremer  |  May 04, 2017  |  12 comments
Here’s a comparison of eight phono preamplifiers incorporating a variety of features and ranging in price from $399 to $4500. The adjacent “vote” story includes files made using each of them so this write-up will not contain sonic comparisons. Those will follow when the voting closes. When that happens depends upon how many readers participate and how quickly they vote.

Michael Fremer  |  Mar 29, 2017  |  13 comments
Some may find it difficult to believe, but the new $2000 solid-state McIntosh MP100 phono preamplifier is the sixty eight year old company’s first stand-alone phono preamplifier.

Michael Fremer  |  Oct 05, 2016  |  7 comments
Audio Alchemy was one of the premier “go to” budget priced audio companies of the late 1980’s through the 1990s, at which point it went out of business for reasons having little to do with the quality of its products.

What some people forget is that aside from producing reasonably priced, high performance gear, the company also issued some truly high tech products like the Digital Transmission Interface Pro32, which included an I2S interface that produced a low jitter connection between a transport the company also made that had an I2S output and DAC.

Michael Fremer  |  Jul 26, 2016  |  41 comments
While the new iPhono 2 appears on the outside to be identical to the original iPhono, reviewed back in 2012 on analogplanet.com, don’t let the similar appearance fool you: the iPhono 2 is a completely new and vastly improved phono preamplifier—and the original was already plenty good.

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