Home Blog How Do I Know If My Record Player Has a Preamp

How Do I Know If My Record Player Has a Preamp

So, you are a novice vinyl lover or the lucky owner of your first turntable model. You are determined not only to listen to music but also to understand the various intricacies of the vinyl world. You may even be learning the basic components of turntables and probably ask yourself, “How do I know if my turntable has a preamp?”. Don’t worry. I will help you to understand this question. And we will start with the very basics.

Do I need a preamp for my turntable?

do I need a preamp for my turntable

A phono preamp is a special component (external or built-in) whose main tasks are to convert and amplify the audio signal produced by a turntable to a level suitable for playback on external audio system devices. A bit confusing? Let me make it simple. In other words, it converts the PHONO signal to LINE and outputs it to an external device (such as speakers).

A little more theory. When the phono cartridge mounted on the tip of the tonearm reads the grooves cut on the record, it produces a very weak electrical signal, which is called the PHONO signal. Its peculiarity is that it has reduced low frequencies (bass) but enhanced high frequencies. Are you surprised? But it’s quite simple. The bass is reduced at the production stage, even before the record is cut. The reason for this is that bass frequencies take up a lot of space on the record. So, the bass is deliberately reduced so that more music can fit on the record.

This is where the phono stage comes in. It boosts the low frequencies and reduces the high frequencies so that the frequency response becomes neutral again. And to achieve the LINE signal level, it amplifies the PHONO signal by a factor of about 100.

I think now you realize that the question “Do I need a preamp for my turntable?” sounds strange. Because without this component (external or built into the turntable), you simply won’t hear anything. But now you know the secret. So, we move on to the main question of the article.

Does my turntable have a preamp?

does my turntable have a preamp

Many beginners also ask this question. Let me try to explain. If you plan to buy a vinyl turntable, you can check the phono preamp on the manufacturer’s website. If you have already purchased, go to your turntable and look at the back panel. There should be a special switch (phono/line) that turns the preamp on and off. After reading this material, you know the answer to the question, “Does my turntable have a preamp?”.

I would also like to note that inexpensive models usually have a built-in preamp. Costs are less than for an external preamp, there is no need to bother with setup, and there are no extra wires. On the other hand, a real audiophile will always prefer an external preamplifier despite its higher cost and some hassle associated with tuning. But only an external preamplifier will bring your audio system to a new sound level.

What if your turntable doesn’t have a preamp?

what if your turntable doesn't have a preamp

First of all, don’t get upset. Secondly, you’re probably lucky, and your turntable model is mid-range or even higher. Yes, you will have to pay a lot for an external preamplifier. But by choosing an external preamplifier, you can familiarize yourself with its capabilities in advance and choose the best model for you. That way, you can customize your audio system how you want it. I will also tell you that some external phono preamplifiers have additional features (e.g., headphone connection, Bluetooth, etc.).

Suggested articles

If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.