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Thread: Phono Pre-Amp?

  1. #1

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    Default Phono Pre-Amp?

    Sunday morning is my favorite time to get out the vinyl and today is no different except it's the first time I've done so since installing the new NAD power amp.

    No disappointment here, though there does seem to be a drop off in volume output as compared to a CD played at the same volume setting.

    I know the NAD is doing its job so I have to wonder if the receiver (onkyo 707) is the bogey here and if so, will a phono pre-amp make a difference?

    Looking at phono pre-amps in the past reminded me just how much $$ we can spend on this hobby. The two preliminary choices I selected to fit my budget and vinyl interest levels were the NAD PP-2 and the Cambridge 640.

    Leader in the clubhouse at that time was the NAD, based on a couple on-line reviews I was able to uncover. Given my recent NAD amp addition, I'll likely stick with that brand, but could always use some guidance from the audio shamans.

    1. Will a pre-amp make up for the perceived weakness I believe to be an issue with the receiver?

    2. Are there other competitve pre-amps at this price point I may have missed?

    Thanks,

    Dave
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  2. #2

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    whats your budget?
    JC approves....he told me so. (F-1 nut)

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    Also, what cartridge and table do you have? The 640P seems to be well liked and is flexible.
    Are you part of the dirty digital peasants or a member of the great Analog Master Race?

    SDA Recommended Playlist https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...FZCRkdxYXVNanc

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    Quote Originally Posted by george daniel View Post
    whats your budget?
    Less than $200 is my thinking. Not so much a "budget" as much as trying to place it at the proper interest level given the percentage of vinyl I play relative to CDs.

    That both the NAD and Cambridge are within this dollar range has probably had as much to do with formimg a "budget" as anything..

    I'm definitely open to (and value) all input.

    Dave
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    Quote Originally Posted by quadzilla View Post
    Also, what cartridge and table do you have? The 640P seems to be well liked and is flexible.
    Yes, that's another factor in looking at the lower end of these offerings. My table is a Technics SL-1301 (circa 1978) with a Shure M97xE Magnetic.

    Not likely to make a change here. Had the table since new, reconditioned a few years ago ... it's become like family.

    Dave
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    Onkyo DX-755 CdP
    Oppo BDP-93
    Technics SL-1301/Shure M97xE
    Polk RTi A7s
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    Polk FXi A6s
    Velodyne VDR10-BV
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    You might also look at a Parasound zPhono. I had one before I upgraded and it was serviceable. The MM setting should be about right for that cartridge. In any case, if you plan on sticking with that cart, you don't need a phono stage with MC compatibility, but don't ignore one just because it does both MM and MC.
    Are you part of the dirty digital peasants or a member of the great Analog Master Race?

    SDA Recommended Playlist https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...FZCRkdxYXVNanc

    Open for editing.

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    Another way you can go (I do this) is to use a good quality vintage pre-amp. Many of these have very god pre-amps built in and can give your system more flexibility with the added inputs. There is a Harmon Kardon Citation 21 in the flea market now for $125 (I think - not sure on the shipping). This unit (I own one) has a very nice sounding phono pre-amp that can be switched between MM and MC.
    Good luck, Phil

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    I have an Onkyo 804. The phono section is horrible. I purchased this preamp just last week and connected through aux. Huge improvement. I'm sure there are better preamps out there, but this was only $55 (including shipping).

    http://www.phonopreamps.com/tc750lcpp.html

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    +1 on the Zphono by parasound.
    Easy to upgrade
    Your choice of power cable.
    And there is a site that sells it for 129.00-- NEW.
    I Just cant think of that vender at the moment
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    I have no basis for comparison, but I'm happy with my zPhono as well. I paid $100 used, so $129 new is a great deal.

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    Thanks for all your responses. Seems there's agreement that the weak phono section of the Onkyo can be overcome with a phono pre amp.

    Appreciate the added info re the Parasound. I did a little research and found it interesting that installation warnings included the need to isolate it from other amps, power cords, etc because of the gain factor and the possibility of picking up a hum.

    I'm going to assume this would apply to any similar pre amp due to the tiny signal from the cart it has to boost. This could be a concern since the rear of my entertainment center looks like an octopus convention.

    Another question has popped in to my neophytic head: My Onkyo has phono inputs but the Parasound manual instructs the Aux (or other) be used and to NOT use the AVR's phono in. I assume this prevents the puny onboard phono amp from queering the enhanced signal from the Parasound (other)?

    Hate to ask such (probably) obvious questions, but want to take advantage of all the knowledge that resides here.

    Thanks,

    Dave
    Marantz AV7005
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    Onkyo DX-755 CdP
    Oppo BDP-93
    Technics SL-1301/Shure M97xE
    Polk RTi A7s
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    Use AUX not PHONO inputs when hooking up a phono pre.
    -Kevin
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    You need to use an AUX input due to the fact that the phono input of the AVR will try to boost the signal sent by the phono pre again. The result sounds terrible and could potentially damage the amp.

    I have the Cambridge you were looking at and used it happily with a technics table and the current set up shown in my signature (same cart. too). The signal is still a bit lower than the CD input but that just depends on the output of your CD player.
    Baby Einstein has never sounded so good.

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    Most phono preamps are set for approx 1 volt line level output which was the standard used during the time before CD players (thus the need for the AUX imput as apposed to the AVRs phono input that expects to see no more than 5 millivolts). CDPs output between 2 to 3 volts as their "line level" and will always sound louder than the vinyl at the same preamp attenuation setting due to this difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gulfstrings View Post

    Another question has popped in to my neophytic head: My Onkyo has phono inputs but the Parasound manual instructs the Aux (or other) be used and to NOT use the AVR's phono in. I assume this prevents the puny onboard phono amp from queering the enhanced signal from the Parasound (other)?

    Hate to ask such (probably) obvious questions, but want to take advantage of all the knowledge that resides here.

    Thanks,

    Dave

    Aside from the other answers that point to the gain from the pre overloading your phono inputs, the other reason that hasn't been mentioned is that your phono pre will already do the RIAA correction. Running a phono stage into another phono stage would apply the RIAA correction a second time, making records sound horrible.
    Are you part of the dirty digital peasants or a member of the great Analog Master Race?

    SDA Recommended Playlist https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...FZCRkdxYXVNanc

    Open for editing.

  16. #16

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    Alright! A phono amp it will be! Likely choose between the three (NAD, Cambridge, Parasound) with a bit more looking ... maybe one with a USB out to try making some of this old vinyl portable.

    Thanks for all the info. I'll post an update when time.

    Dave
    Marantz AV7005
    Marantz MM7055
    Onkyo DX-755 CdP
    Oppo BDP-93
    Technics SL-1301/Shure M97xE
    Polk RTi A7s
    Polk CSi A6
    Polk FXi A6s
    Velodyne VDR10-BV
    Panamax M5100-PM
    Antec VERIS A/V Cooler x 2

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    thsmith has experience with both the Cambridge and the Parasound and I believe he found them to be similar. Maybe Tracy will see this and share his opinions on the two.

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    Just ordered the Cambridge 640-P from Audio Advisor. Hopefully in a week or so we'll be ready to post comments.

    Biggest reason for choosing the Cambridge (not a lot of good comparos out there) was its quiet, hum free operation observed in the most detailed review.

    I also prefer the outboard power supply and relative "heft" compared to the NAD, as example. Still believe we should get the most weight for our money ...

    Later,

    Dave
    Marantz AV7005
    Marantz MM7055
    Onkyo DX-755 CdP
    Oppo BDP-93
    Technics SL-1301/Shure M97xE
    Polk RTi A7s
    Polk CSi A6
    Polk FXi A6s
    Velodyne VDR10-BV
    Panamax M5100-PM
    Antec VERIS A/V Cooler x 2

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