What phono pre-amp should I get?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Jamollo, Sep 10, 2017.

  1. Jamollo

    Jamollo Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Buffalo
    I'm looking into getting an inexpensive tube phono pre-amp (<$200). I have a Denon 300f turntable and a Monoprice Tube Amp System with Bluetooth 25-watt Stereo Hybrid with Retro Speakers (amp and speakers). What would compliment this system well? The Denon has a built in phono preamp that I've been using so if I'm gonna upgrade I would definitely want to get something superior to the one in the turntable. I've been thinking of a Little Bear, but again I don't know if that would be much different than what's in the table already. Is it even worth it to upgrade the phono preamp with the set up I have?

    Thanks for the feedback
     
  2. olschl

    olschl Active Member

    Location:
    NJ
    In my humble opinion a tube pre-amp is not where you should start. Can you figure out what model cartridge they mounted on your 300f? Also, I'm not familiar with those speakers. Is Retro the brand or the model?
     
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  3. Villorejo81

    Villorejo81 New Member

    Location:
    london
    Jamollo - to give you a direct answer to your question and without telling you to search for used equipment .... I would probably go for a pro-ject or rega pre-amp in that price range. They are overall well regarded, this is based on reviews and different "top" pre-amp lists, at the end I would recommend to go and listen to a couple and make up your mind based on your sound preference.
     
  4. PhilBiker

    PhilBiker sh.tv member number 666

    Location:
    Northern VA, USA
    I like my Little Bear T7 but the tubes it shipped with were horrible. I replaced them with some old tested GE branded USA made tubes that I got on Ebay for $10 and it sounds very nice. I have no idea if it would sound better than the built-in preamp you're using now though.
     
  5. Jamollo

    Jamollo Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Buffalo
    I have a grado blue cartridge. The brand is monoprice. It was an amp & speaker set. Retro is the style
     
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  6. AmericanHIFI

    AmericanHIFI Active Member

    Location:
    California
    Save a little more and buy a Lounge Audio LCR MKIII that costs $300 (or find used).
    It sounds like tubes (without the tubes troubles) and is as good as these things get for under $700. You won't be disappointed. There are all kinds of threads about it here.
     
  7. Jamollo

    Jamollo Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Buffalo
    Do you think something like that is overkill for my radio. E.g. My turntable will limit the performance I could get out of something like that?
     
    PhilBiker likes this.
  8. John Woo

    John Woo Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Singapore
    can check out a Schitt Mani for US129 + shipping. i have one now in my setup and its very good sounding for the price.
     
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  9. AmericanHIFI

    AmericanHIFI Active Member

    Location:
    California
    I don't know, it could be. But you buy it now and have it throughout many system upgrades. Save money in the long run.
     
  10. Northa40

    Northa40 New Member

    Location:
    Canada
    Have a look at the videos from this youtube site, he has some good ideas.
     
  11. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Do not spend money on any phono preamp right now. Just use the built-in one that came with your TT for now.

    Save your money for an integrated amp + decent passive speakers.

    Anything else you upgrade is going to be severely bottlenecked by that Bluetooth speaker system.

    After you upgrade your amp + speaker situation then start thinking about other upgrades. Until then don't spend a nickel on any other upgrade.
     
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  12. Jamollo

    Jamollo Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Buffalo
    The amp has Bluetooth ability but I don't use it except for my phone. I just use the amp's CD setting for my turntable using the power amp and preamp in the amp + the TT phono preamp. I figured the speakers were passive. I don't have to plug them into the wall or anything.
     
  13. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Gotcha. I would still advise buying a better integrated amp and speakers when money allows before upgrading anything else.

     
  14. Jamollo

    Jamollo Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Buffalo
    I just get the feeling that if I upgraded my amp and speakers that I'd be further bottlenecked by the built in pre amp.
     
  15. Jamollo

    Jamollo Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Buffalo
    Does anyone have experience with the Rega fono mini?
     
  16. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    The point I am trying to make is that you should upgrade things in the order they will most affect the sound.

    1) better speakers
    2) better amp
    3) better cartridge
    4) better phono preamp
     
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  17. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I have one, if you mean the Fono Mini A2D. It's a good unit but so are many others in the price range. It comes down to what features you are looking for and what would best match your system and cartridge. I use mine for making needledrops because it has a USB output and level control.
     
  18. I also had a Denon 300f turntable. Whatever preamp you get will be a major upgrade from the built-in one. I used to use a Cambridge solid state preamp. The Schiit one will make it sound like you have a newer, better record collection.

    You said you like to keep it retro. Instead of a separate preamp, look for a vintage receiver or amp with a phono setting already installed. I got a restored McIntosh MA5100 at a good price, and that was a MAJOR upgrade over a sub-$200 preamp.

    This brand can be expensive, but other quality makes, such as Marantzes or Pioneers, can be found relatively cheaper. Plus, they'll look great. You'll need some good sub-$300 bookshelf speakers.

    That'll transform your turntable's capabilities.

    Good luck,

    Bill
     
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  19. Wounded Land

    Wounded Land Forum Resident

    I love my Mani too, but it's not tubed.
     
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  20. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Personally I don't see the attraction to ultra-budget/knockoff tube gear. I'd rather have a decent budget priced solid state system any day of the week. All that monoprice and off-brand tube stuff just seems like they are targeting people that have a tube fetish or whatever. There is no way that stuff can be very good. If you dig deeper into the reviews you'll see all sorts of complaints (esp. components overheating, not working right, etc). Seems like a great way to start an electrical fire in your place TBH.

    My apologies if this sounds harsh...
     
    Jasonb likes this.
  21. AmericanHIFI

    AmericanHIFI Active Member

    Location:
    California
    With that said, not as good as the discountinued Fono MM MKII.
    I expect great things from the newly redesigned MKIII that was just released (at the same retail price in US).
     
  22. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    And most of them should really be labeled hybrid preamps since the gain and eq is done with inexpensive opamps, followed by a tube output stage. If you only see one tube per channel, then it's probably not really a tube preamp :)
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  23. Jasonb

    Jasonb Forum Resident

    Heard the Schiit Mani was good also some Project, but I like the NAD PP range.
     
  24. Jamollo

    Jamollo Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Buffalo
    Mine has 4 tubes. Is that one per channel?
     
  25. Dhreview16

    Dhreview16 Forum Resident

    Location:
    London UK
    The Fono Mini is good value at £100 in UK prices but the Fono Mark 2 at £200 is a noticeable step up (I swapped through a local dealer here after hearing both in the same rig using the Planar 3 or RP 3 deck). There is now a new Mark 3 Moving Magnet cartridge model at the same price (and a separate Moving Coil cartridge one), which I assume is better still, though I've not heard it. I don't know what they retail for in the US, or what the competition is, but you might get a nice, discounted Mark 2 while dealers try to sell off old stock and replace with the Mark 3. If you can, it would be a good deal, in my view.
     

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