Phono Preamp

In the early days when CDs and DVDs were still being thought up in the drawing boards – magnetic cartridge and turntables were the stereo systems of the time. But today, such audio storage and output methods are considered to be obsolete. For people who are still fans of the old music and want to use a turntable to play the audio, they may find that the stereo systems they are using might not be able to provide the same audio level as conventional CD players. That may be because the speakers they are using do not have a phono preamp.

A phono preamp is a very important component in the audio conversion system of the past. Even from a high quality turntable, the sound level will be quite low. To bring up sound level, the system will require a phono preamp which will be able to provide a preliminary stage of amplification. Previously, they were commonly built in to amplifiers because the audio would lack the sound level without the amplification provided by the preamps. Nowadays, preamps are no longer required and must therefore be used separately if an individual wishes to use a turntable to access the audio. A phono preamp is also required if they want to record the audio from a LP on to a CD-R. This will be done by connecting the turntable to the computer’s sound card through the preamp.

One of the main factors that determine a good phono preamp is the Signal-to-Noise ratio. This basically means that a higher S/N rating will provide much less background noise while using the preamp. However, this also depends upon the quality of the other devices that are used. For example, if the quality of the sound card is not high enough, then it will make enough noise as to drown any other noise generated by a poor preamp. But if the CD-R to be recorded is going to be compared to quality of other CDs, then it will require a good preamp.

Another quality that is used to distinguish between high and low quality phono preamps is the ability to provide a decent equalization effect. This is because of the restrictions in using an LP to record audio. Before recording in an LP, an equalization curve has to be implemented to it so that the background noise can be decreased. Therefore, the opposite process must be used in order to bring back the original music tone and quality when copying LPs to CD-Rs, which is to add the RIAA curve. This simply means to reverse the original equalization effect. This is a crucial task of a phono preamp and there are usually different preamps for different tasks. This is because different type of music requires different RIAA curves to restore the original tone without adding any unwanted effects.

Aside from such features, phono preamps also come with a number of features that may be useful to one person, but may go unused by the other. Few of the features that can be seen in a few models are power switches with LEDs to indicate whether the preamp is on or not. A few preamps also contain a mike input and also an output level control which is particularly useful when connecting the preamp to a sound card. Usually it is seen that the preamps that offer the most features are the ones that provide the best results. Also, it is a common trend in most other electronic devices where it is seen that the performance of the product is higher if more money is spent on it. However, it is always better to get a good phono preamp as producing a CD-R from an LP takes a considerable amount of time. It is not worth wasting time if the produced CD-R is not even audible.

This Phono Preamp Review is Written/Updated on Sep 9th, 2010 and filed under Consumer Electronics. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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