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Top 10 Best Phono Preamp Under 500 [Buying Guide] 2021

Does your music system feels lifeless? And you need a real-time solution to satisfy your ear buds?  Find the best phono preamp or phono stage with us and bring life to the music. You can also check out the buyer’s guide about the techiest phono preamp under 500 along with the frequently asked questions about the best phono preamp available in the market.

If you are a music lover, you can understand the need for a good phono preamp. A phono preamp is a device that amplifies the record player’s output and makes standard equalization to improve the sound output.

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It also removes noise and makes the sound quality richer and warm.  You may usually need one because your turntable does not have the built-in amplifier or you need to enjoy a better sound quality produced by the existing preamp.

So, here we have come up with the best phono preamp that can reproduce amazing sounds to satisfy your earbuds. We have also scribbled a comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you in making the decision wisely. So, read down the lines and find how the best phono preamp can do wonders to the music.   

Our Top Picks of Best Phono Preamp Reviews Under 500 USD Product Reviews in 2021      


1.     Schiit Mani Phono Preamp For MC ad MM Cartridges

If you want to bring the music to life, Schiit Mani Phono Preamp is the best amplifying device to buy. The device is small but packed with powerful features. At a very nominal price, it creates great sound effects with so many details. The music you would hear is noiseless and lively where you can clearly differentiate the instrumental sound.

The Schiit Mani Phono Preamp is compatible with the MM as well as the MC cartridges. It is made in the USA offering premium quality standards that reflect in the sound it amplifies. The preamp delivers excellent sound with clarity and detail no other device would produce in this small budget. The device is sturdy with an aluminum case and gold-plated connectors

Features

  • Compatible with all cartridges i.e. Moving-magnet (MM) as well as Moving-coil cartridge (MC)
  • Delivers clear and noise-free sound quality
  • Utilize passive RIAA network
  • Manufactured in the USA
  • Contain high-quality components
Pros
  • Available at a very affordable price
  • Easy to setup
  • Very clear and noise-free sound quality
  • Compatible with all cartridges
  • Sturdy built
Cons
  • It produces loud humming noise when turned on or off

2.     Rega FONO MC Phono Stage (Black)

If you are looking for an amplifying device featuring exceptional sound quality then the Rega FONO MC Phono Stage is a reliable device. However, the price is quite high so shortlist this one if you have the fortune to spend. It is a perfect complementary device that can reproduce the best music out there.

Rega FONO Preamp is compatible with the MC cartridge. The device is easy to set up and reproduces sound like a pro. It utilizes RIA equalization circuits and polypropylene capacitors to amplify sound. As far as the built is concerned, the device is very aesthetically pleasing with a sturdy aluminum case. It is one of the most highly-rated preamps in our list of best phono preamp despite the relatively high price because it provides great value for money.

Features  

  • MC Phono stage
  • Uses Linear System and low-noise mechanism to amplify sound
  • RIAA Equalization amplifier
  • Aesthetically pleasing design
  • Sturdy aluminum built
  • Frequency response (50KΩ output load) = 13Hz (-3dB) to 100KHz (-0.3dB) 
Pros
  • The striking design and resilient aluminum body
  • Powerful amplifying system
  • Noiseless output
  • Great frequency response
Cons
  • Makes a loud noise when you switch it on or off

3.     Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier – Black

It is said that big things come in small packages. So is the case with this amazing miniature phono preamp. The black aluminum phono preamp has the capacity to amplify sound for both MM as well as MC cartridges at a very affordable price. This amplifier has a tube output and utilizes a unique discreet circuit design that offers a richer and noiseless sound.

Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 can reproduce a great sound that can confidently compete with the other big amplifiers. Moreover, it offers several gain settings that are present on the front panel. Moreover, five impedance settings are also available. This preamp is extremely easy to use. In addition, the built consists of a metal casing that prevents vibrations.

Features

  • Compatible with both MM and MC cartridge
  • Low-noise circuit system
  • Front sided control panel offering gain settings and impedance settings
  • Utilizes RIAA passive and active equalization
Pros
  • Reproduces great sound and bass
  • Very affordable and handy
  • Unique discreet circuit design
  • Noiseless performance
Cons
  • High price
  • Makes loud noise

4.     Cambridge Audio Alva Solo | Phono Preamp for Moving Magnet Turntable

Cambridge Audio Alpha Solo is another promising device of the year. The preamp precisely amplifies the signals producing rich and full sound. The Cambridge Audio Alva offers the fastest response with precision. It lowers down the noise and delivers noise-less performance. This remarkable device also works when your record player is worn out and producing low-frequency sound.

Cambridge Audio Alva solo is a great amp for MM turntable. It brings an exceptional change in the sound quality and proves to be a great internal amp if your system does not have a built-in one. It is a perfect combination of a well-designed circuitry system and powerful functionality which you cannot get at this small price.

Features

  • Compatible with MM Turntable cartridge
  • Short signal paths and faster response
  • Subsonic filter and balance control
  • No distortion or background noise
  • Switch-mode power supply and  surface-mounted circuit 
Pros
  • Well-built piece of equipment
  • Well-made circuitry system
  • Delivers sound with no humming sound or other distortion
Cons
  • Produces a humming sound often

5. Nobsound Little Bear T11 6N2/12AX7 Vacuum&Valve Tube Phono Turntable Preamplifier

This is another tube phono preamp that grabbed our attention. The MM preamplifier produces a signal output instead of a line output.T11 phono preamp is an improved version and reproduces a better music quality than the former one. It offers the least noise and more lively music than you will ever enjoy. This pure tube preamp uses an active RIAA phono-stage circuitry system.

This preamp produces a very warm and clear sound. The device is perfectly designed. It has a sleek and well-built look that differentiates it from the ordinary phono preamp. Moreover, the device just comes under $200 which is a deal-breaking price as far as the functionality and features are concerned.

Features

  • Pure tube phono preamplifier
  • MM cartridge Compatible turntable
  • Traditional RIAA circuitry system
  • Contains several replaceable tubes
  • Deliver noiseless sound quality
Pros
  • Very affordable price
  • Quite sound performance
  • Better performance than the former version
  • Pure tube phono preamp
Cons
  • It is only MM cartridge compatible

6.     Vincent PHO 300 Phono Preamplifier MM/MC with Separate-Chassis Power Supply Black

If you are looking for an outstanding amplifier that may be able to tackle both MC and MM cartridge then go for this beauty that contains a separate chassis for power supply and preamp. The built and quality of the components is worth praising and produces sound contain least or no noise. Vincent PHO 300 is one of the most intelligent designs of the manufacturer who is famous for making smart and high-quality audio gear.

Vincent PHO 300 is affordable and easy to use. Moreover, the front panel of the preamp gives you the option to switch between the MM and MC settings. The manufacturer utilizes superior quality components to produce better sound quality. The great device is contained in a stylish and sturdy metal case that has passed the test of time. 

 Features

  • Compatible with both MC and MM cartridge
  • Intelligent design and sturdy built
  • High-quality components
  • Noiseless sound quality
  • Separate chassis phono stage
Pros
  • Switchable MM and MC operations
  • Separate chassis phono stage unit
  • Stylish and sturdy metal case
  • Affordable device
  • Simple to use
Cons
  • N/a

7.     Cambridge Audio Alva Duo

Here is another best-selling pick for those who want to use both MM and MC turntables. The device is tested to produce sonic audio quality. This exemplary piece of equipment uses a duo switch mode power supply and a surface-mounted circuit board.

This technology ensures that you do not receive background or humming noise that ruins your listening experience at the low-level signals.

Usually, the phono preamps work effectively when the source system has a high quality but this preamplifier delivers far better results even when your vinyl is worn off. Moreover, This cambridge phono preamp has an integrated value-added 6.35 mm headphone jack through which you can listen to the audio privately.

Overall, this Cambridge phono preamp provides great value for money with high-quality components and exceptional sound quality. 

Features

  • Compatible with both MC and MM cartridge
  • Striking design and robust built
  • High-quality components
  • Noiseless sound quality
  • Comes with an extra headphone jack
Pros
  • Switchable MM and MC operations
  • Stylish and sturdy metal design
  • Affordable device
  • Simple to use
Cons
  • N/a

8.     Parasound Zphono MM/MC Phono Preamplifier with USB

Give new life to the vinyl music by this MM and MC cartridge compatible phono preamp that comes with a USB. This phono preamplifier contains high-quality parts that ensure lowest distortion and noise in the low level signals.

Zphono uses discreet RIAA equalization circuitry to provide noiseless performance. This device is a music specialist and specially designed to amplify music efficiently.

It is compatible with both MM and MC cartridge and equipped with powerful dual transformers for the better results. The input gain can easily be switched between MC and MM from the control panel present at the back.

The device has a solid construction and striking looks with a black metallic body. However, it is not as sleek and smart as the other compact devices but proves to deliver exceptional performance.

Features

  • MM cartridge Compatible turntable
  • Traditional RIAA circuitry system
  • Deliver noiseless sound quality
Pros
  • Very affordable price
  • Quite sound performance
Cons
  • Construction is not so appealing

9.     U-Turn Audio – Pluto Phono Preamp

If you are looking for a device offering cleanest possible signals with the least distortion, Pluto Phono preamp is a must-buy. The audio device is compatible with the MM cartridge.

It is a great choice in a small budget containing high-quality components. The device features RIAA equalization technology and WIMA film capacitors that ensure clear sound quality with the least noise and distortion.

The U-Turn Audio Pluto Phono preamp is equipped with one gain stage and a sonic filter that reduces the low-frequency noise to an acceptable level. This device delivers rich sound quality and the clearest highs and lows.

Moreover, the sleek look is aesthetically pleasing and proves to be the perfect equipment for your home or studio. The device comes with a concealed RCA cables and power supply along with an affordable price offering great value for money.

Featuring

  • Compatible with MM Turntable cartridge
  • Short signal paths and faster response
  • Subsonic filter and balance control
  • No distortion or background noise
Pros
  • Well-built piece of equipment
  • Aesthetically pleasing design
  • Affordable price
Cons
  • Produces a humming sound often

10.Pro-Ject Audio – Phono Box DC – MM/MC Phono preamp with line Output – Blk

Pro-ject Audio Phono Box DC is a low-profile solution for your lifeless record player. The small device is not less than a treat if you don’t have an integrated amplifier in your sound system. The sleek and compact device contains high-quality components ensuring outstanding sound quality. It delivers warm and bright sound that the vinyl record players are known for.

The preamp is compatible with both the MM and MC cartridge. The body is considerately designed to minimize electromagnetic interference and vibration so that you may receive the clear and noiseless sound quality.

Moreover, the gold-plated inputs and output do not corrode and ensure the best signal transfer. The device is also available in a USB version and can directly be plugged-in to your turntable.  

Features  

  • MC and MM Phono stage
  • RIAA Equalization amplifier
  • Aesthetically pleasing design
  • Sturdy aluminum built
  • Gold-plated RCA inputs and outputs
Pros
  • The striking design and resilient aluminum body
  • Powerful amplifying system
  • Noiseless output
  • Great frequency response
  • Also available in USB version
Cons
  • Makes a loud noise when you switch it on or off

A Quick Buyer’s guide to buying the best phono preamp under $500

Phono amps have commonly been popular nowadays. They are inevitable especially when you are using a vinyl turntable so that you may be able to enjoy the mesmerizing music. However, buying the right phono preamp is a bit challenging.

You need to learn about the various factors that can influence your buying decision. So, we are here to help. In this buyer’s guide, we have tried to address all your concerns regarding the phono preamps so that you may be able to make an informed choice.

What is a phono preamp?

Before you go to buy a phono preamp, it is significant to understand the functionality and usefulness of the device. A phono preamp which is also known as the phono stage is an audio device that can amplify the signals of your vinyl turntable to the level that it can be easily connected to the sound system. In this way, you can enjoy the better sound quality you were not able to enjoy before.

Generally, there are two types of phono preamps i.e. internal phono preamp and external phono preamp. The internal or the built-in preamps are available in many expensive systems while the external phono preamps are the dedicated devices specialized in amplifying the sound of your record player or turntable. They are small and handy and able to tackle a lot of music genres.    

 Choose the phono preamp according to the cartridge

The choice of the device largely depends upon the turntable cartridge you have. If you have a moving magnet cartridge (MM) then you must buy a phono preamp compatible with the MM cartridge.

However, if you are device has a moving coil cartridge then you must buy an MC phono preamp.

Some phono preamps are compatible with both MC and MM cartridges but they are relatively costlier than the ordinary ones. Moreover, the MC phono preamp is cheaper than the MM compatible photo preamp because they are low output cartridges.

 Choose the phono preamp according to the sound quality

The choice also depends upon the quality of the music you want to listen to. There are thousands of phono preamps available in the market and each varies in sound quality because of the quality of the components and the technology incorporated by the manufacturers.

There are several factors in how you can gauge the quality of the components i.e. the dynamism, precision, and realism, etc.  Moreover, some phono preamps have tubes the deliver very rich sound quality so you can also go for them if you want to listen to the warmer sound.  You can also check out some best tube phono preamp reviewed above in the list of best phono preamp under $500.

Price

Phono preamps are available in different price ranges according to the quality of the components. However, the general rule is that the higher the price is, the better will be the quality of the phono stage. Ideally, you can conveniently get a reasonable phono preamp under$500. 

You should match the price of the preamp with the quality of your sound system. If you have a powerful sound system then you must go for a high-quality preamp so that the preamp may not become a performance bottleneck. Nevertheless, there are some phono amperes that deliver reasonable audio quality even if the source system is worn-off.


Frequently Asked Questions


Wrapping Up

So. These were some best phono preamp under 500 out there along with a comprehensive buying guide detail several factors to consider before making a buying decision. . We hope that our research will benefit you in making the right choice. Share your reviews with us in the comments section below and suggest the latest gadgets you want us to review in the next editorial.

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