do you need a phono preamplifier with your turntable?

From the moment of pulling a record from its sleeve, to the soft burst of crackle as the needle eases into the groove, the vinyl experience is one that offers its listeners a sense of occasion when playing their favourite tracks.

The notion of spinning a round black disc for music is attractive to many, but aside from the turntable, amplifier and speakers there is often one missing component which can hamper the experience: the mysterious phono preamplifier. 

What is a Phono Preamp?

Given that a vinyl record’s audio content is made up of a series of microscopic bumps and ridges on its surface, which are read by an equally small diamond needle, it is no surprise that the volume of the sound reproduced is extremely quiet. 

This problem often comes to light when you have just bought your new turntable and hooked it up to the ‘aux’ connectors on the rear of your Hi-Fi’s amplifier or line-in on your Sonos device. The volume will have to be turned up considerably in order to hear the vinyl, which will sound starved of bass and detail. 

This is where the phono preamplifier comes into the equation: a small device which connects to the turntable’s output, amplifies its sound output to normal levels, and sends the audio signal to the inputs on your Hi-Fi amplifier to be reproduced by the speakers. Sometimes a phono preamplifier can also be known as a phono stage. 

Do I need a Phono Preamplifier?

It is worth noting that a selection of amplifiers do already come with a phono stage installed. This is easy to identify as the amplifier’s fascia will display a ‘phono’ position on its input selector, which will be matched with corresponding phono connectors on the rear. 

If you should discover that your amplifier does feature an in-built phono stage, be sure to connect your turntable’s output to the amplifier's input marked ‘phono’. This means no additional equipment will be needed, and you can now enjoy your vinyl straight away. 

But if your amplifier does not feature the aforementioned phono connectors or function, then more than likely it does not feature a built-in phono stage. In this instance an external preamplifier will be required. This small device simply connects to the turntable’s outputs, amplifies the vinyl’s audio signal to normal levels, then connects to the main Hi-Fi amplifier’s aux-in terminals. 

If you are looking to include a turntable in your Sonos set-up, a phono preamplifier will also be needed as the Sonos Connect, Play:5 and Amp all feature line inputs, but no built in phono stage. Once an external phono preamplifier is employed between the turntable and your chosen Sonos device (from the list above), you will be able to enjoy the sound of vinyl across your Sonos ecosystem. 

Which Preamplifier is Right for Me? 

At Smart Home Sounds we are passionate about vinyl, and we believe that everyone should be able to enjoy the warm sound it offers, regardless of your budget. From standalone preamplifiers to turntables with integrated preamplifiers, we have a few options to get your vinyl experience on track.  

Behringer Microphono PP400 Ultra-Compact Phono Preamp



View Behringer Preamp

The Behringer PP400 is a compact preamplifier which offers excellent performance and superb value for money. Supplied with phono-to-phono or phono to 3.5mm audio cables, the PP400 is ready to act as the link between your turntable and your stereo or Sonos ecosystem. 

Rega Fono Mini A2D MKII Preamp



View Rega Preamp

Rega’s own multi-award winning Rega Fono Mini A2D MKII preamplifier is a high quality device which also allows you the option to record your vinyl to your PC, thanks to the USB output on its fascia.

Rega Planar 1 Plus Turntable



View Rega Planar 1 Plus

We think the Rega’s Planar 1 Plus is one of the best turntables with a built in pre-amp, ideal for newcomers and avid vinyl fans, alike. Building on the award winning Planar 1, the Plus edition features a built-in preamplifier. This means no need for any external boxes between the turntable and the stereo amplifier to cause clutter. The Rega Planar 1 Plus will connect straight to your stereo amplifier’s aux-in connectors, or to your Sonos’ line-in port. 

If you are still unsure as to whether or not you need a phono preamplifier, feel free to get in touch with us at Smart Home Sounds so that we can advise you, and ensure your experience with vinyl is great from the very start. 

By Tom, Sales Team Member

Learn More

How to Play your Turntable Audio in Every Room with Sonos >>

The Best Sonos Turntable Bundle for Vinyl-Lovers >>

Rega Planar 1 vs Planar 2 Turntable Comparison >>