Recomendations for phonograph preamp?

By Spokaneman ยท 6 replies
Apr 16, 2008
  1. I'm recording old LP's to CD via Sony's Sound Forge 8 & CD Architect 5.2 and a Sound Blaster X-Fi sound card. I'm using a low end phono preamp that I'd like to upgrade. Particularly I'd like to have more control over volume input through the preamp than I currently have. Does anyone have experience with a preamp that they find satisfactory and which costs less than $200?
  2. turbo1

    turbo1 TS Maniac Posts: 353

    normally,pre-amps dont have knobs for volume controls.

    if your aim is to have an input control,it's better to look for an
    integrated amplifier that has phono-in & some couple of line-out (outputs).

    is your pre-amp directly connected to your sound card (line-in)?
  3. Spokaneman

    Spokaneman TS Rookie Topic Starter

    My preamp does have an input adjustment, but I have it turned up to max and I still don't get as much volume as I'd like. However, it is adequate for creating CDs that have acceptable volume levels - they're just lower in volume than a commercially created CD.

    I have my preamp wired directly (line-in) to my SoundBlaster X-Fi audio card.
  4. turbo1

    turbo1 TS Maniac Posts: 353

    well,you might want to consider looking for an integrated amplifier
    which has an acceptable & standard input/output levels (circuits),
    which normally throws signal transmission via RCA plugs.
    (convert L/R RCA to 3.5 mm adapter plug to sound card).

    pre-amps do have gain controllers that could enhance the sound inputs
    but not totally handles the desired input levels.

    the odd thing sometimes (in pre-amps direct to sound card) is a distorted
    sound reproduction/playback,

    also depends on how the record labels way of recording the original LPs. ;)
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,028   +2,558


    Right you are. Jump a "Tape Out" right to the line in of the computer. This would be a FIXED output level (Line Level)

    When you're dealing with "Pre-out" jacks of an audio amplifier or receiver, the volume and tone affect the output. The "Pre-Out" jacks are designed to operate a pure power amp, which has no controls of its own!
    I am familiar with the "rinky-dink little black boxes that were sold to amplify the output of a magnetic cartridge to an input which was intended for a "ceramic cartridge", they don't normally have volume controls.

    This could be an impedance mismatch, or too much gain by the sound card.

    Records aren't laid down anywhere near as "hot" as the average CD. this is because the CD has the potential for a much greater dynamic range. (about 90DB for a CD, but only about 50DB for an LP). I just threw that in , I thought you might find it interesting.
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +422

    I think maybe you need to see how good is acceptable to you. You said "However, it is adequate for creating CDs that have acceptable volume levels - they're just lower in volume than a commercially created CD."

    If you aren't getting the audio from very good condition LPs you can probably get away with artifically amping the sound with a program like Adobe Audition (costs money) or Audacity (free). Audition's interface is much better and personally I think its easier to use but Audacity will do the job.

    You are going from an analog source to digital, so you can try to minimize signal loss going to the line in on your sound card as much as possible by using good quality connectors, you already seem to have a good enough sound card.

    Sound Forge should also be able to amp the signal... but I've never used it.

    Anytime you amp it regardless of whether its software or not you are also amplifying noise, so I'm not sure you are going to gain much by going with a dedicated preamp over just doing it through software.
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 13,028   +2,558

    If we are willing to spend up to $200.00 for a preamp. I think I would consider springing for a USB turntable, which already has a preamp built In. This is the PnP "Plan "B".
    Here's something to look at, just as a possibility;
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