Anyone know phono preamps?
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  1. #1
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Default Anyone know phono preamps?

    I went and got my records from my dad's house. I'd like to be able to listen to them.

    When I got the bug in my head to do that, I bought a random preamp off amazon based on reviews. Well...apparently the amazon reviewers don't have a clue how things are supposed to sound. I'd probably be okay with it if I listened to music I didn't know well, but...it sucks. A lot.

    Among other things, the high's are rolled off way more than they should be, it's hot as hell (even with the gains on my focusrite 2i2 turned all the way down, it's clipping inputs on most modern records..I'm feeding my monitors with it's direct monitoring), everything sounds "warm" to the point of being muddy, bass extension sucks...it sounds like it's putting a frown EQ on everything. And there are literally no adjustments.

    I am using an M-447, which isn't the best cart for this application, but it doesn't sound this bad. Before I hooked this thing up, I listened to a few records with these cartridges, on the same speakers, through my 2016...I'm used to that sound, but I don't want to DJ with them. I'd rather just have it sitting off to the side running into my system for listening and maybe digitizing a few things I only have on vinyl.

    I also destroyed one of my styli by fumbling with it...man, I'd forgotten how much of a PITA records are.

    Anyway...anyone have any recommendations in the $35-50 price range...I'm looking for something that's as close to dead-flat as possible in the price range, maybe with a gain control. I'm not opposed to digital or class-D hardware (at all), but I'd have to look into how that will change the rest of the setup....in the long run (when I add a monitor controller), it won't matter. But for now, it kind of does. Probably not, though.

    Alternatively, is there a software phono-correcting EQ or preamp out there? I can run the TT into a pair of focusrite mic pres and get the level where it should be. I'm actually just thinking about rigging something up in a DAW just because this is ridiculous.

  2. #2
    Tech Guru the_bastet's Avatar
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    It really depends on your budget. Both Bellari and Pro-ject make great preamps. Anything less than $80 is gonna sound like rubbish, no matter what company produces it.
    - Equipment - 2X Technics 1200, 2X Audio Technica ATLP1240, 2X XDJ700, 2X XDJ1000 MK2, Denon DNX-1100, Mixars DUO, DJM750 MK2, NI Audio 10, NI Aduio 4, Serato SL3, 4X Shure M44-7, 2X Ortofon Pro S, 2X Numark Groove Tool, Maschine MK3, Samson Carbon 49, Roland SE-02, Novation Launchcontrol, TouchOSC, Nocation Peak, Arturia MiniBrute, Korg Volca Kick, MicroKorg (Classic), NI Komplete Audio 6

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  4. #4
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_bastet View Post
    It really depends on your budget. Both Bellari and Pro-ject make great preamps. Anything less than $80 is gonna sound like rubbish, no matter what company produces it.
    I'm not sure it's worth $80 to me compared to eventually selling my 1200s and buying a hi-fi table with one built in (unless that's somehow stupid).

    What would you suggest for someone who wants to be able to play vinyl in a purely listening capacity, through studio monitors, who likes flat/transparent sound, and who is absolutely convinced that vinyl is inherently inferior to digital media unless it's made from a better master?

  5. #5
    Tech Guru the_bastet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mostapha View Post
    I'm not sure it's worth $80 to me compared to eventually selling my 1200s and buying a hi-fi table with one built in (unless that's somehow stupid).

    What would you suggest for someone who wants to be able to play vinyl in a purely listening capacity, through studio monitors, who likes flat/transparent sound, and who is absolutely convinced that vinyl is inherently inferior to digital media unless it's made from a better master?
    If youre not able to spend the extra cash, get a DJ interface like a used audio 4. You can pick em up for around $40-60. Otherwise, the Bellari rolls is around $60. It does have a slight curve in the highs, so the highs may be too sharp combined with the M44's.
    - Equipment - 2X Technics 1200, 2X Audio Technica ATLP1240, 2X XDJ700, 2X XDJ1000 MK2, Denon DNX-1100, Mixars DUO, DJM750 MK2, NI Audio 10, NI Aduio 4, Serato SL3, 4X Shure M44-7, 2X Ortofon Pro S, 2X Numark Groove Tool, Maschine MK3, Samson Carbon 49, Roland SE-02, Novation Launchcontrol, TouchOSC, Nocation Peak, Arturia MiniBrute, Korg Volca Kick, MicroKorg (Classic), NI Komplete Audio 6

  6. #6
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_bastet View Post
    If youre not able to spend the extra cash, get a DJ interface like a used audio 4. You can pick em up for around $40-60. Otherwise, the Bellari rolls is around $60. It does have a slight curve in the highs, so the highs may be too sharp combined with the M44's.
    It won't be the M-447/G long term.

    A DJ interface is interesting. I forgot they had preamps for some reason. I wonder if my SL1 still works?

  7. #7

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    Afais you have a Rane 2016 mixer. Why not use a channel on it for your turntable?

  8. #8
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by electroshock View Post
    Afais you have a Rane 2016 mixer. Why not use a channel on it for your turntable?
    It does sound better that way.

    A few reasons....

    1. I have zero desire to DJ with turntables. I did it for a bit after I went and got the records just to see if I still could, and I just plain don't enjoy it anymore. I get the people who do....there is a romance/nostalgia about it. But, I just don't care about that anymore...at least like that. I'll always have a rotary at home, and that gives me all the "vibe" I need to make myself happy.

    2. The physical setup I have wouldn't work. The 2016 is set into a table that's on casters, so I move it into place when I want to DJ. It's not hooked up the rest of the time, but it is installed in the table. I suppose I could re-do it, but it would have an even bigger mess of cables...or the DJ setup would have to stay somewhere that would have both speakers off to my side (no) or require a second set of speakers that won't work as well with the room treatments (also, no). And it would be insanely expensive to re-do the treatments for sources on different walls. Actually, I'm not really sure it's possible. There are already enough cables in that room that I have to deal with.

    3. Eventually, I want one down in my dork cave and one in my living room so I can listen to records either place. The living room is running off a Marantz receiver that doesn't have a phono input. And a phono preamp for that system would be a lot cheaper than replacing the receiver.

    I've looked at the suggestions in this thread, and the price for a good preamp is so damn high...with so little objective information about which ones don't suck (as with all "audiophile" stuf)...I'm pretty sure I would save money if I sold the 1200s and bought a pair of Pro-Ject (or similar) hifi tables with line-level outputs instead of bothering trying preamps out. I'd probably end up spending $50-150 that way...and as long as they sound decent (I've never heard anything bad about Pro-ject except that they're expensive), it'd work at least as well. And that's about the same as the price of two good phono preamps.

    Any thoughts on that plan?

  9. #9

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    Selling the 1200 would be a huge mistake. It is better than Pro-ject, just invest in a good cart and a good preamp. Additionally you can mod it even more (KAB mods) and achieve a superior hifi quality.
    On the cheap side you can get ART Pro Audio DJPRE II Phono and call it a day (currently $49 at Amazon).

  10. #10
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by electroshock View Post
    Selling the 1200 would be a huge mistake. It is better than Pro-ject, just invest in a good cart and a good preamp. Additionally you can mod it even more (KAB mods) and achieve a superior hifi quality.
    On the cheap side you can get ART Pro Audio DJPRE II Phono and call it a day (currently $49 at Amazon).
    That's what I'm trying to do...but it seems like no one uses separate phono preamps anymore except audiophiles who also think $10/foot plain speaker cables aren't stupid. And if their recommendations are correct, I'll just give it all away or sell it.

    Have you used that? I've got it saved. People seem pretty split on ART stuff in general, and the last time I trusted amazon reviews, I wound up with something that doesn't have a trim control and outputs at around +20dBu for no reason.

    Why do you say the 1200 is better? For DJ use it's obvious, but for SQ for listening? I'd feel slightly weird going for a cheap audio technica or something even though its basically all 100+ year old technology and should be dirt cheap.

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