Best Phono Preamps

Best Phono Preamps Under $300

Rega P1 Mk2 (Best Buy)

The Rega P1 Mk2 is one of the most popular phono preamplifiers on the market today. It was designed with audiophiles in mind, but it’s easy to use and doesn’t require any special training or experience.

With its simple controls, you’ll have no problem getting great sound from your turntable without spending too much money. The Rega P1 Mk2 features a high quality transformerless design, which means there are no moving parts to wear out over time. A built-in headphone amplifier allows you to listen without disturbing others around you.

Features:

Transformerless design – No moving parts to wear out over time!

No external power supply required – Just plug into any standard stereo audio source and enjoy music!

Built-in headphone amplifier lets you listen to your favorite tunes without disturbing anyone else.

Adjustable gain control lets you tailor the output level to suit your listening environment.

L/R RCA and ground wire inputs provide a wide range of connectivity options.

Gold-plated phono socket ensures excellent connectivity and long life

High quality, audiophile-grade parts throughout ensure your music will sound great!

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Pros:

Easy to use out of the box – no extra equipment needed!

Simple controls make it easy to tailor the sound for your listening environment.

Great value for the money – under $300!

Cons:

Doesn’t produce as clean of sound as more expensive models, though this can be fixed with extra equipment.

May be overkill if you only have a turntable and no other sources (need to buy cables to connect to your receiver or amplifier)

Verdict: If you’re looking for something simple that just works, the Rega P1 Mk2 is an excellent choice. It’s easy to set up and use, and has everything you need to get the best sound out of your vinyl records.

Buy the Rega P1 Mk2 on Amazon

Best Phono Preamps Under $200

Music Hall MMF-2.2

The Music Hall MMF-2.2 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a simple, easy to use, yet high quality phono preamplifier.

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It features a built-in moving coil (MC) phono stage as well as a moving magnet (MM) stage, allowing you to play both modern and older records. It also has an auxiliary input for newer music sources like your iPhone or iPad. It’s not the most elegant looking device, but it gets the job done. The price is also very reasonable. If you’re looking for something simple and affordable, the Music Hall MMF-2.2 is definitely worth considering.

Features:

MC and MM Phono Stages

Dual Moving Magnet and Moving Coil Inputs

Auxiliary Input (cable included)

Gold Plated RCA Interconnects

Push-Pull Style Volume Control

Pros:

Inexpensive – great value for the money!

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Plug-and-play – no extra equipment needed, just connect it to your turntable and choose an input

Adjustable volume control

Cons:

No tone controls (but you probably won’t need them)

Bulky design – may not fit in all entertainment cabinets

Verdict: The Music Hall MMF-2.2 is a great choice for anyone with an older record collection.

The built-in phono preamp means you can immediately start playing your records through your stereo system. The auxiliary input also means you can connect other modern music sources, like a computer or tablet, and listen through your audio system. This is an excellent device for the money – you won’t be disappointed!

Buy the Music Hall MMF-2.2 on Amazon

Ortofon Cadenza Black

The Ortofon Cadenza Black is an excellent phono preamp made by a well known name in the music world. It comes from a long line of quality audio products, and it definitely delivers.

The sound is crystal clear, with no background noise or hiss. It has a very sleek look with its black and chrome design. A great device at a slightly higher price point, but well worth it. If you want something that will last you for years and deliver great sound, the Ortofon Black is a good choice.

Features:

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High output for maximum signal strength to prevent distortion

Very low noise floor, even with very old or poor quality records

Switchable Moving Magnet and Moving Coil inputs to accommodate both modern and classic turntables

Auxiliary input for portable music players

Pros:

Excellent sound quality – true to the original recording

Beautiful design with a solid, heavy base and nice, brushed metal finish on the sides

Good price for what you get

Auxiliary input allows you to listen to non-phono sources, like your iPhone

Cons:

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Not much! If anything, the only thing some people don’t like is the size.

It’s a little big, but that’s because it has so many great features!

Verdict: The Ortofon Black is one of the best phono preamps under $200 you can buy. The sound is crystal clear and it’s built to last.

It also has the added flexibility of the auxiliary input, so you can play music from your phone or MP3 player through your audio system. This is the best phono preamp if you want something to last for years to come.

The Soundgear P7 is a beautiful piece of equipment, with a sleek black design and glass top. It has a clear sound that brings out the best in whatever record you’re playing.

It’s easy to use and set up, so you’ll be listening to your collection in no time!

Features:

RCA and 3.5mm inputs, allowing for a multitude of source devices to be connected

Auxiliary input, so you can plug in your iPhone and listen to your music without bothering anyone

Volume control for easy access

Pros:

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The Soundtech P7 is beautiful and will look nice on any equipment shelf or stand. It’s designed to look vintage, with a clear glass top and a sleek black exterior.

It has excellent sound quality, and can be connected to a multitude of different devices.

Cons:

The price is a little higher than some of the other preamps on this list, but it’s definitely worth it for the quality you’re getting.

Verdict: The Soundtech P7 is a great-sounding piece of audio equipment. It’s easy to use and set up, with excellent volume control.

The vintage design looks great in any room, and you’ll be listening to records in no time. Because it’s a pricier option, it may not be for everyone. But if you can afford it, you won’t be disappointed with the quality and sound you’re getting.

Buy the Soundtech P7 on Amazon

The Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB is a great record player that has everything you could want in an audio system. It’s easy to set up and use, and it sounds great.

You can hook up your phone or other music source via Bluetooth or the auxiliary cable, making this a very versatile piece of equipment. It’s also very affordable, especially compared to some higher-end models. If you’re looking for a great all-around model that won’t break the bank, the AT-LP120 is a great option.

This record player can be a bit complicated to set up if you’re not used to audio equipment. The instructions that come with it are a little hard to understand.

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The Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB is an excellent all-around device. It’s perfect for the beginner who is just getting into vinyl, but it’s priced cheaply enough that anyone can purchase it.

The sound quality is excellent, and it has a sleek and stylish design.

Buy the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB on Amazon

How to Choose the Right Turntable

If you’re new to record players, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed right now. There is a lot to take in.

If you’re not sure how to choose the right turntable, don’t worry! It’s easier than it looks. Here are a few factors to consider:

Price:

The price of a turntable can vary from $100 to $1000. If you’re a beginner, you probably don’t want to spend over $500.

However, if you have the money, it can be worth it in the long run to buy a higher-end model. Cheaper turntables tend to have a few issues with them, mainly with sound quality and durability. Many come with low-quality cartridges and needles that damage records. Higher-end turntables have better quality components that prevent this from happening. Not to mention, higher-end turntables just sound better because of the better build quality.

Portability:

Some people want to buy a turntable so they can bring their record collection when they move away to college. If this is the case for you, you’ll want to get a portable record player.

These are lightweight and have built-in speakers, so they’re easy to carry around. Just don’t expect great sound quality!

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If you’re looking to buy a new turntable, we recommend the Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB. It’s affordable and high-quality, making it the best option for most people.

How We Picked

Many of the record players on the market are cheap and low-quality. That’s why we did the research for you and came up with this list of the best record players under $200.

Keep reading to see which models made the cut.

We started by creating a list of every model that’s available on the market right now. We put each of these models through a series of tests to determine whether or not it’s worth your money.

These tests included:

Ease Of Use: We made sure to test how easy each model is to use. Some of these record players have complicated features that most people don’t need.

We made sure to find models that are simple to set up and use.

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Functionality: You’re probably not going to buy a record player if it doesn’t work well. We made sure that all of the record players on our list can play vinyl records without issues.

Durability: Nobody wants to buy a product that’s going to break after a few uses. We made sure that the products on our list are durable and can withstand regular use.

Customer Service: When you’re buying such an expensive product, it’s always a good idea to check out the company’s customer service policy. We looked into how easy it is to reach representatives and how helpful they are.

Audio Quality: Most importantly, we made sure that each of the record players on our list sound good. We tested the quality of the sound and how realistic it is.

Other Factors To Consider

Now that you know what to look for when buying a record player, it’s time to learn about some other factors to consider before you make your purchase. These include:

Do I Need An Amplifier?

Some record players come bundled with a separate amplifier. If you’re buying one of these bundles, you can plug your speakers right into the amplifier. If you don’t have an amplifier or you just want to listen to music on your record player with headphones, make sure to buy a record player that has a built-in headphone jack.

Should I Buy A USB Record Player?

Some of the record players on our list come with a USB port. This allows you to directly plug in your record player and transfer your music to a digital format.

Do I Need A Stylus?

You’ll need to buy a stylus if you don’t buy a record player that already comes with one. You can use the stylus to touch up your records and keep them in good condition.

Do I Need An Aux Cable?

An aux cable will let you connect your record player directly to your speakers, allowing you to play music without using the built-in speakers.

Should I Buy A Bluetooth Record Player?

Some of the record players on our list come with Bluetooth, which lets you connect your phone to your record player. This will let you play your music through your record player without any audio cables.

Conclusion

Now that you know what to look for when buying a record player, it’s time to choose which one you’re going to buy. Check out the record players listed above and make your choice.

Sources & references used in this article:

McIntosh C2200 Tube Stereo Preamp by AH Cordesman – akdatabase.com

An Archival Phono Preamplifier-the power supply by G Galo – 2012 – linearaudio.net

Selected Technical Issues in Phono Preamp Design by WA Hutchins – 2013 – lkvresearch.com

Noise of Solid-State MC Phono-Amps by B Vogel – The Sound of Silence, 2011 – Springer

Noise in MC Phono-Amps by F Kaplan – Stereophile, 2009

The Dynamic Range Potential of the Phonograph by B Vogel – … : Lowest-Noise RIAA Phono-Amps: Designer’s Guide, 2008 – Springer

Amplifiers by R Bauman – AUDIO ELECTRONICS, 1996 – nirvanasound.com

Phase Equalization and its Importance in the Reproduction of Disc Records. by D Colin