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Do I need a preamp with a receiver with a phono input?

 

CG
Unregistered guest
I'm a beginning here, so bear with me. I have an Onkyo receiver with a phono input, but I still have to turn the volume way up when using the turntable. Would a basic preamp help with this? I thought the phono input meant I wouldn't need one. Thanks for any help!
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest
Better read your owner's manual.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 74
Registered: Sep-04
CG

In your owner's manual you need to check to see if it's just labelled 'Phono' or if there is a phono stage in the receiver. If there is a phono stage, there should be different specs for the phono input to all the other line level inputs. Typically a line level input is expecting a 2V signal. A Moving Magnet (MM) phono input would expect something in the mV range (e.g. 2 - 4 mV) and a Moving Coil input would expect 1/10th that of the MM input (so 0.2 - 0.4mV or thereabouts).

If I recall correctly (and I may not) Onkyos do not have a phono stage built in, so you would have to turn the volume up all the way to get a very low volume indeed. If there is no phono stage in the receiver, you would have to add an external one. The most inexpensive one that I think works well comes from Pro-ject and costs around £45 ($70). You will need an interconnect to go from the phono stage to the receiver of course.

Regards,
Frank.
 

Unregistered guest
Did you find a solution to your problem? I have the same issue!

I bought an Onkyo TX-8511 receiver a few years back. It has phono inputs and a built-in phono stage / pre-amp. I've read countless reviews on the internet praising this receiver and its ability to let us listen to vinyl. However, the phono stage has noticeably lower volume level in comparison the CD stage. It lacks the nice, fat bass at low levels that the cd channel provides.

I have tried basic pre-amps to no avail. Obviously the receiver has a phon input. The closest thing that I have been able to do is to run my turntable through a pre-amp (for example I have tried an old Hafler preamp as well as an Adcom preamp- both of which had separate bass controls) and then lead the output from the pre-amp into one of the receiver's auxiliary inputs. This worked okay to a certain degree, but when I turned up the bass gain on the pre-amp too high, there was serious distortion that made my speakers shake like crazy. I iamgine this is this is a result of loading a pre-amp on top of a pre-amp?

Any ideas on how I can solve this puzzle? Do I need to disconnect the receiver's phono stage and get a better one?
 

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 958
Registered: Sep-04
Guys,

Please note that most phono stages have lower volume than that of a CD or DVD player. The reason for this is to improve the sound to noise ratio. The signal from a CD or DVD player is around 2V. The signal coming from a record deck is very much lower, around 2mV (0.002V) or even 0.4mV (0.0004mV) depending on cartridge type. The phono stage boosts this signal up to the same order as the CD and DVD players. The problem is that when the signal is boosted, any noise in the system is also boosted. Therefore the designer has to make a compromise and choose the gain that doesn't raise the noise floor too much. Typically this means that 10 o'clock on the volume dial for a CD player might be close to 12 o'clock with the record deck.

Now in practice, it's more usually the case that an amplifier is at its maximum distortion-free performance when set to around 12 o'clock on the volume dial. Much more than that and the amp begins to distort nastily (typical solid state amp). With a typical phono stage in it, the amp might go around to 3 or 4 o'clock on the volume dial before it starts to distort on the Phono input.

There are exceptions to this but they are few and far between since apart from the S/N ratio being worsened, you also become more susceptible to radio frequency interference.

Regards,
Frank.
 

Unregistered guest
Thank you Frank for your response. After reading your message, I think the reason why I am getting low volume out of the phono stage of my receiver is because of my cartridge. I have a Stanton 681 EEE Mk II. This cartridge has only .7mV output (I suppose this was built with a pre-amp and power amp set up in mind?). I imagine if I used a cartridge with 3 or 4mV output, it would be louder. I'm not sure if it matters, but the input sensitivity of the phono stage of my Onkyo receiver is 2.5 mV (impedence 50 kohms). What do you think?

If I go with a pre-amp, perhaps you can suggest how I can make sure that my cartridge is well matched to the phono pre-amp that I am buying (perhaps a Bellari or the Phono box?). This is because I tried one of those cheap $20 phono stages at my local stereo repair store and it sounded worse than going straight through my receiver, lots of humm/buzz no matter how many ways I hooked up the ground wire an no matter how far from the record player the phono stage was.

I want lots of bass and lots of channel separation to listen to my original Parlophone Beatles albums, half mastered Led Zepplin & Pink Floyd vinyl, etc. Perhaps I can attain this by either a new cartridge or a new phono pre-amp or both. Any recommendations on how to do this without spending a fortune?

Thanks again and take care,

Robert
 

New member
Username: Wobblyseat

South Africa

Post Number: 1
Registered: Feb-06
Phono is a priority for me (NOT moving coil) Any suggestions what amplifier I should buy.
Home theatre is NOT required.

Thanks
Mike
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 845
Registered: Dec-03
Do you want a stereo receiver, an integrated stereo amplifier (amp with preamplifier in one unit), or a separate stereo amp and stereo preamplifier? Also what is your budget, how big is your room, and what speakers do you have--or are planning to get?
 

Silver Member
Username: Gman

Mt. Pleasant, SC

Post Number: 846
Registered: Dec-03
Rob--

You need to match your phono cartridge (either moving magnet or moving coil) to the correct setting on your receiver. Does your receiver have a phono set for both mm and mc? If so, put it on the same setting as your cartridge. If that doesn't work it is likely the gain on your cartridge is too low for the receiver's phono input and you either need another cartrdidge or a separate phono pre-amp.
 

New member
Username: Aid4hearing

Post Number: 1
Registered: May-06
Rob, are u listening to vintage records or cds that recently have been re-released onto vinyl? I'm wondering because I know that back in the hay-day of records, the musicians and the record producers HAD TO take into account, how much bass or low end range tones were used, due to the fact that the lower tones took alot of space on the records and if each side of the record, needed to be approx. 30mins, with a certain amount of songs per side. The bass was basically compromised alot of the time. Though I have found, that on the "new" re-leased onto vinyl albums (i.e Tool's Undertow album), I was pleasantly surprised that the bass tones were all in the right specs in regards to the original recordings I've heard on CD. I think the new transister..or uh, solid state type reciever/amps of today have a better high and low range, but like with tube amplifiers the mid-range is the sweet spot. and as we all know, back when records were the standard for music format, tube amps were right there with em. i don't think bass tones were a priority back then, like it is now. and ofcourse there are reciever/amps of today that cover all listening fields high/mid and low with awesome detail to all. I'm speaking just in general. So, old records you have, or new. it might be a combination of your equipment and your record collection.
 

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 1287
Registered: May-05
Andy -

I see you mention the Undertow LP. I've got that one and Lateralus. Do yours have a lot of surface noise? I've got a lot of LPs, both new and old, but haven't heard this much noise from a new LP. They're noisier than most of my old LPs as well. I've cleaned them a bunch of times without any improvement. I even started to think that maybe they added the noise intentionally, because as a band they've done some really odd things just to mess with people. Maybe I got two bad records? Maybe they're messing with people again?

Listening past the surface noise, the sound quality is great. Far better than the CD versions.
 

New member
Username: Mewilliams54

Bronx, NY United States

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jul-06
I need a pre-amp to hook up my phono to my Integra DTR 5.6. I don't know anything about pre-amps. I don't need top of the line, just something that works well. Any suggestions?
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