There are various ways to listen to your favorite music or songs. However, while some thought it to be obsolete, many people are still clinging to vinyl records. And for a good reason.
The rich enveloping sound that no other music player can provide, vinyl makes you feel like you’re hearing the sound from its source.
Now, if you want to enhance that already good sounds, you’re going to need a phono preamp. Whether you are a seasoned collector of vintage records or you want to build your first collection, here are some of the high-quality and best phono preamp under 500 that fits your budget so you can spend the rest for more vinyls.
Phono Preamp Under 500 Comparison Table
|Product Image||Product Name||Brand||Value||Check Price|
|ART DJ PRE II||ART||$$$|
|Pro-Ject Tube Box S||Pro-Ject||$$$|
|Parks Audio Puffin Phono DSP||Parks Audio||$$$|
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Top 4 Best Phono Preamp Under 500 Reviews
ART DJ PRE II
Taking the top place, the majority of us may have come across the ART pro brand. This company’s “Applied Research and Technology” has seen many decades and continuously created cheap cost but perfectly capable devices and solutions for music lovers and musicians.
And the DJ PRE II phono stage is one of the best-selling preamps. Housed in ART’s trademark construction, this device features heavy-duty chassis that allows multiple units of different models to be stacked on top of each other.
Its buttons, shape, LEDs, and graphics may seem peculiar for others but are quite convenient when operating the device. The front features the gain trim know with the dedicated signal/peak LED. There are also 2 buttons for capacitance as well as a rumble filter. Powered by external power unit— AC or DC— the ART DJ PRE II is simplistic but feels solid and sturdy to the touch.
- Super cheap
- Good quality sounds
- Great build and construction
- No on/off switch
- No fix gain setting
Pro-Ject Tube Box S
Another popular audio brand Pro-Ject offers an affordable phono preamp under $500. Extremely easy to use and versatile, the Tube Box S features 3 different gain levels. This allows you to adjust the sound quality based on your preferences and personal needs.
A highly compact preamp, this preamp features a sleek design that can match whatever turntable you match it with. It does emit a low humming sound, however, when you turntable music on, it’s easy to forget it.
The valves of this phono stage can also be replaced. A nice touch, if you ask us since these components tend to age quickly if you’re using it all the time. Meanwhile, the controls are super easy to adjust and comes with clear labels. Not only that, but it also can be used with either MC or MM cartridge. Thus, you are not limited to the types of music you wish to listen to.
- Easy hook-up
- Multiple gain levels
- Suitable for both MC or MM cartridge
- Emits low humming sound
- Configuration instruction could be improved
An Amazon, Choice, the Schiit Mani is another affordable preamp you’d want. It comes with a nice build and construction, comprising of 2 percent film capacitors and 0.5 percent thin-film resistors and precision. Thus, it delivers low noise gains and awesome sound output.
To make your sound outputs and recording richer, this device features 4 switchable gain modes. These include 59, 47, 42, and 30 decibels, giving you freedom in selecting the kind of rating needed for the recording.
Not only that, but the device is also compatible with RIAA networks. Thus you get an audio output that is quiet, passive, clear and accurate. It accommodates both MC and MM cartridges. With its compact design, it takes the least amount of space and blends well with any established setup.
- Manages low-noise performances
- Compact and high-quality construction
- Accommodates various kinds of cartridges
- May not work with certain voltage ratings
- Limited compatibility
- Too complicated for beginners
Parks Audio Puffin Phono DSP
If you are looking to splurge your budget, then the Puffin Phono DSP is the most expensive on this list. Still, it’s worth the money, particularly if you’re someone who uses lots of audio systems and turntables.
So, the main advantage of this preamp is its large gain range. Highly versatile, the device can also be adjusted with most types of system including MC or MM cartridges.
Its adjustment system is also simple and easy to use with a digital display and toggle switches. This makes it easier for you to find the gain level that you need to create the sound quality you want.
It is also super easy to hook up, thanks to the clearly labeled ports. Additionally, this is pretty much the only phono preamp at this price tag that can handle amplifying the signals from CD players, without any damage to the device itself.
- Easy to hook-up
- Lots of gain setting
- Suitable for record players
- Produces low humming noise
Things To Consider Before Buying Phono Preamp Under 500
Before you take home your phono preamp make sure that you research the features you want and need to turn your sound experience into your dream setup. Here are some things you need to consider:
MC or MM?
MM stands for Moving magnet while MC means moving coil. These are 2 cartridge types that you will find in most turntables.
Most of the newer models of turntables use MM cartridge since it doesn’t require amplification as the MC cartridge. If you were to hook MC phono to a MM cartridge, then the sound can be distorted.
Meanwhile, MC has less output than MM, meaning it needs more amplification. And while you can hook up an MC cartridge to MM phono, it might not be loud enough for you to hear it.
Does it work with CD players?
Generally, your preamp won’t work with CD players since the signal sent from these devices is high. If you plug it into a CD player, your preamp might be damaged. Still, if you need this functionality, then you will find that some digital models can support sound at this level.
Vacuum Tube or Digital?
The traditional turntable style is the vacuum tubes. You can expect them to offer warm and rich sounds. However, for the more modern users, the hassle that comes with this technology is not appreciated.
If you wish for a cleaner sound with less hassle, then go with a digital preamp.
The biggest disappointment that you can experience in setting up your new phono preamp is realizing that you do not have compatible ports and connections.
So, before purchasing, make sure that your existing system is compatible with the preamp you’re eyeing so that you enjoy your records as soon as you set it up.
Form And Function
If you already have an established turntable setup, then you need to get a phono preamp that can fit into your system seamlessly.
There are some phono preamps that are built to go into a stack or rack system while others can be freestanding. Make sure to know which kind you need before buying so that it doesn’t stick out.
Phono Preamp Under 500 – Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What’s a phono preamp?
A: A phono preamp is an electronic device that converts the signal is received from the cartridge into an AUX signal, transmitting it to the Audio device for an amplified sound experience.
Q: What does a phono preamp do?
A: This device is used to transform signals from phono level to a line level to works with big digital sound devices and amplifiers such as speakers, stereo systems, computers and more.
Q: What are other names of phono preamp? What are the different types?
A: Phono preamp is also called a phono receiver or phono preamplifier. Some of its types include RIAA preamp, phono stage, digital phono preamp, tube phono preamp, turntable preamp outboard phono preamp and more.
Q: What are the advantages of having a phono preamp?
A: The major advantage of having a phono preamp is transferring analog signals of your old vinyl device into modern time digital signals in order to play those recording n modern-day devices such as stereos music systems, speakers and more.
Not only that, but it also helps in generating high-quality sounds for recording. It also helps amplify the sound volume by affecting the original quality of the sound.
In this modern era, the turntable is making a huge comeback and a vinyl collection is more likely the envy of many. To enjoy it at the maximum level, you will need the best phono preamp. It boosts the quality of your vinyl records without adding distortions that can ruin the music.
If you’re on a tight budget or just want to spend more on buying vinyl records, the best phono preamp under 500 listed above will make a great choice.