Would I benefit from an external phono preamp?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Katz, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. Katz

    Katz Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bucharest
    Hello Guys.

    I own a Sony PS-HX500 turntable with 2 upgrades: an improved belt and more importantly, a much improved cartridge - the Goldring E3 - this made a huge improvement in sound compared to the standard budget AT preinstalled one.

    The turntable has a build in phono that can be defeated - and I use it connected to the phono stage of my stereo receiver, the Yamaha RN-803D, as it sounds much better.

    So a question arises - would I benefit noticeably by buying an external phono premap? Yes, I know that getting a very expensive one, maybe even more expensive than the turntable (650 USD with the upgrades) would logically make a difference, but I'm wondering if getting a phono preamp of up to 300, MAYBE maximum 400 USD would make much of a difference, since I don't want to buy a phono preamp as, or more expensive than my turntable.

    And also, how exactly would it help the sound? I get it that it would preamplify the signal more, basically giving me more volume, but since I'm using my receiver with 2 6ohm bookshelf speakers and a 300w active subwoofer, and my receiver can push 130W into 6ohm (WAAY more than enough, especially considering my bookshelves are low cut at 80hz), I don't really need more volume.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Getting a phono preamp doesn't have to do with a louder sound. It's to get a higher *quality* of sound.

    If you buy used, at $300, you can get better phono prramps than the one available in your Yamaha unit. New, that'd be more if a challenge.

    The Dynavector P75 can occasionally be seen at $300-400 on the used market. Also gives you even more gain in case you ever decide to buy an LOMC cart which requires more amplification.

    Here's the MKII version (they're at MK4, now) at $375 on USAM.

    Dynavector P-75 MKII MM/MC Phono Preamp
     
  3. Katz

    Katz Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bucharest
    Thanks, but I guess I should have specified - I'm only interested in buying new. That's what I do in general, especially with expensive audio hardware. I'm interested in unused, with warranty, etc.

    I was looking at the ProJect Tube Box S2 or Atoll PH 100. Anywone has any experiece with these?
     
  4. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Why? How often have you resorted to using the warranty? Just curious.
     
  5. bluemooze

    bluemooze Forum Resident

    Location:
    Frenchtown NJ USA
    Then keep what you have and settle for the current sound of your system.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  6. IGD Positive

    IGD Positive Forum Resident

    Location:
    Inner groove
    Yeah, given what you've got, I don't think it makes sense. The gains you're going to see given the rest of your equipment would likely be marginal. Save that money to buy a more expensive turntable/cartridge combination somewhere down the road.
     
    patient_ot, AKA-Chuck G and Cronverc like this.
  7. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    In most cases, more so with modern mid-fi AVRs, preamps and integrateds --- yes, you will benefit from an external phono pre. Like everything in audio though there are no absolutes as it depends on your system, budget, etc.

    There are many vintage preamps and integrateds that had wonderful onboard phono preamps - many examples of early 80's Yamaha, Sony ES preamps (C-2a, C-2x, TA-E88, more) with great phono stages, likewise with 70's Marantz in some cases, and a ton of Accuphase 80's pres and integrateds with wonderful phono stages too.

    It really depends........ if one has a well functioning / restored vintage preamp / integrated, getting a $200 external phono pre would probably not be an upgrade. Or likewise a higher dollar modern preamp there are probably a few that have good phono stages, though I am not well versed in those choices.

    I answered in general terms as I viewed your profile (empty) and you did not share any system details.
     
  8. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    As others have said, the point of an external phono stage is not to give you more volume, it’s to improve the sound quality over what is built into the turntable. I would agree with the suggestion that your money is better spent toward a higher-quality turntable, except that you will need a phono stage to use with any higher-quality turntable, anyway. So, the way I think about this, if you are intending to eventually upgrade the turntable, it can still make sense to upgrade the phono stage now. Even if you are planning to stick with the turntable you have indefinitely, it still can’t hurt to see if you get an improvement, right? The only way to know what improvement you will get is to buy one and hear it for yourself, return it if you don’t think it’s worth the money (make sure you buy from somewhere with an ample return policy, so you actually have time to let it settle in and form an impression).

    EDIT: I missed the part of the OP that said you are using the Yamaha receiver’s built-in with the turntable’s phono defeated. My thoughts on not knowing until you hear for yourself stand, but the part of my post stating you will need a phono stage to use with an improved turntable is not applicable. So, I would lean more heavily toward the suggestion to put the money toward a better turntable before thinking about external phono stages. I am sure there are $300-400 phono stages that will be an improvement over the Yamaha’s input, but I would guess you won’t notice that difference as much without also upgrading the turntable. Still, if you’re for some reason committed to staying with that turntable for the foreseeable future, it can’t hurt to try something out and return if you’re not impressed.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  9. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Agree that saving money for a better TT + cartridge should be a priority rather than a budget phono pre amp.
     
  10. AKA-Chuck G

    AKA-Chuck G Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington NC
    I see you can get your turntable for around $400. I would not spend over $200 on this table. I've had great success with dealing with Audio Advisor. They have a lot of choices around $200. A lot of these in that price range would also be good if/when you decide to get a better turntable like a Rega P1/P2 or a Pro-ject.

    Search Results - Audio Advisor
     
  11. TheVinylAddict

    TheVinylAddict ___The Enforcer___

    Looks we've decided in our infinite wisdom to turn this into a TT selection thread in the last few posts...... :)

    I am sure there is someone out there with experience with these - whether they check in is a different story!
     
  12. timztunz

    timztunz Audioista

    Location:
    Texas
    You really should rethink this philosophy. You will get a LOT better gear for your hard earned money, roughly speaking about double.
     
  13. Davey

    Davey very clever with maracas

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Yea, maybe not for the OP but if someone else is interested, he's down to $330 now, or $325 at Audio Asylum Trader.
     
    Strat-Mangler likes this.
  14. You have a TT that spits out DSD. Have you actually listened to that signal through a decent DSD DAC?
     
  15. AKA-Chuck G

    AKA-Chuck G Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington NC
    I think I pointed him in the right direction. That Sony table is basically a rebadged Audio Technica and he understands spending as much or more on the phono preamp is overkill.

    The link I provided has a demo NAD PP 2e for $99 (still 30 day return policy) or the Pro-ject phono box for $159. Why not try one of these and go from(return and try something else if you don't dig it) there?

    The Cambridge Audio Solo for $179 is also in the ball part. CA makes good equipment for the money. I like to provide information and let the OP make his own choices.

    Cambridge Audio Solo & Duo Phono Preamp Review | Audio Advice | Audio Advice

    That pro-ject tube box S2 does look very good for $400. Just buy it with a decent return policy.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
  16. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Especially for a phono stage. Really no moving parts for the original owner to have damaged/worn, and you get it already broken in. If the original owner hasn’t had to utilize the warranty, the unit is probably not going to need warranty service now.

    At least consider open box, which will still be under warranty but may show some signs of use. I have generally felt the same way about wanting things new, but I got an open box phono stage that saved me somewhere around 30% and let me go a step or two above what I would have been able to stomach at this time and gave me what I really wanted, anyway.
     
    timztunz and patient_ot like this.
  17. Katz

    Katz Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bucharest
    Sorry but this tt is definitely Not A rebadged audio technica. I know what you mean, you re reffering to the cheapest sony/at/denon 150 usd tt which are virtually the same.

    I sugfest you check some videos about the PS HX500. There s even a video where the english engineer explains how it was made from scratch, tonearm design and all.
     
  18. Katz

    Katz Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bucharest
    Actually I got interested in the P1 after seeing a youtube youtube video comparing the p1 to the pshx500 sony (mine) and the project debut carbon. The conclusion was p1 was a bit better than the sony, and the project was audibly much more inferior to the two in most aspects.

    I then went to my local hifi store to test them out. Indeed the project carbon debut was not near the sony and rega. The rega was a bit clearer but more expensive, so after consulting with the staff there, we tested out the sony sony with the goldring e3 vs the stock rega (almost same price) and the sony with the goldring was noticeably better than the p1, so considering the budget and price, it was a no brainer.
     
    AKA-Chuck G likes this.
  19. AKA-Chuck G

    AKA-Chuck G Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington NC
    My link was intended for you to look at phono preamps, not Turntables. Did you click on the link ?
     
  20. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    “Rebadged Audio-Technica” is misleading, anyway, since AT doesn’t make them, either.

    The main problems I see with the PS-HX500 are the 0.25% wow and flutter spec (that’s high, and that much wavering should be audible to most people, were it to actually perform that poorly), and the built-in electronics, which are fine if you actually want to use them, but get in the way if you do not (which seems to be your situation). If you are happy with the turntable, great, but I would still bet an upgrade of turntable would give more improvement than a $3-400 phono stage. However, I don’t think you would be wrong to try a phono stage if you are not anywhere near a turntable upgrade. Improvement is improvement, and this is all a matter of what value you perceive from your purchases. My thinking is don’t bother upgrading a $4-500 turntable with another $4-500 turntable, wait until you can at least double the price point so you know it’s actually worth upgrading. If that’s going to be down the road further, or even never, then I don’t see how improvement at the phono stage hurts anything.
     
    AKA-Chuck G and patient_ot like this.
  21. Magic

    Magic I'm just this guy, ya know?

    Location:
    Franklin TN
    Isn't part of the reason for a good phono stage being the compensation for the RIAA curve? All things considered the better the phono stage/pre-amp the better playback/quality of the music due to proper compensation for the curve or am I barking up the wrong tree? Not to put to fine a point on it but unless the OP compares a external pre-amp with his receivers phono stage there really isn't any way to know if it's worth it or not. My question would be what are you dissatisfied with sound wise that is causing you to question the need for an external device?
     
    Big Blue likes this.
  22. Katz

    Katz Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Bucharest
    Actually the wow factor listed is a safe margin off the real numbers, in typical japanese fashion (as they do with cars hp rating etc). In reality, mine has 0.16 +/- wow 2sigma measured, and most reviewers and users online show similar resutls. As for the electronics, they are completely defeatable and thats how o use them, all shut off.

    I obvioisly know a 600 usd turntable (goldring e3 cartridge included) is by no means top of the line and thats ok, when i set up to buy one, i tested and researched online for the best option, and this tt/cartridge combo came clearly on top, to my shock tbh. I wasnt even considering sony when it came to tts, i looked at virtually any other manufacturer (rega, project, teac, dual, nad, at, etc) within the price range.

    My only curiosity is about the option to add an external phono preamp, and how much money should i spend on one to be clearly better than my yamaha phono stage. And is it worth it. Im Im hones very pleased with the sound, do im iot planning in changing tt anytime soon. The next audio money ill spend will probably be on speakers, but its gonna take a pretty penny to find smth above my 2.1 system.
     
    Big Blue likes this.
  23. Big Blue

    Big Blue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Wisconsin
    The defeatability may be better in this one than in others, and if you’re happy with the speed stability you are getting, then that’s all good (0.16% is still higher than I like, but I’m very picky about pitch).

    I still say the only way to know is to try. Buy a phono stage you can return, give it some time to really evaluate, decide if it’s worth it to you. Nobody here is going to have a definitive answer, even though a lot of us have considered pretty much exactly the same question!
     
  24. Cyclone Ranger

    Cyclone Ranger New old stock

    Location:
    Best Coast USA
    You could try the Schiit Mani phono stage. It's well-regarded on sound quality among budget phono stages, is only $129, and has a 15-day return policy.

    Only real negative is that some ppl report RF issues if you live near a radio station, but those appear to be ironed out in the latest version. And again, you can return it within 15 days and only be out the 15% restocking fee (in this case, about $20).

    Happy hunting. :thumbsup:
    .
     
  25. AKA-Chuck G

    AKA-Chuck G Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington NC
    I am going to post this link again since I don't think the OP has looked at it. 30 day return policy or trade in for another model if you don't like the first one. Hard to beat with lots of good choices at different price points. Research the ones you think you may like and give one a shot.

    Search Results - Audio Advisor
     

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