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When Is a Turntable with a Built-in Preamp Right for You?

A phono preamp is a necessary component when you’re listening to records at home.

Image credit: Pro-Ject

If you’ve been on the hunt for a new turntable setup, you’ve probably come across countless reviews, forums, and other platforms where internet strangers weigh in on components like turntables with a built-in preamp. 

A phono preamp is a necessary component when you’re listening to records at home. Without one, you won’t be able to properly amplify the signal coming from your turntable. Some audiophiles think that an external phono preamp is the only way to go. This opinion has developed over time as many gear collectors feel that modestly priced gear with tons of features means that some corners were cut or cheaper parts were used. That may be the case with certain pieces of gear, but there are way too many variables for this to be viewed as a universal rule. 

Advances in audio gear have proven that brands can create affordable turntables that incorporate more bells and whistles without sacrificing sound quality. Below, you’ll find plenty of good reasons to consider buying a new turntable with a built-in phono preamp.

When You Want to Get Started

If you’re new to the vinyl hobby, you’re already off to a great start by looking into turntables that you can easily connect to an integrated amplifier, receiver, soundbar, or powered speakers. A turntable with a built-in phono preamp can be connected to any audio device that has an analog input. This connection could be labeled as AUX, Line, or just IN.

When You Want to Upgrade

If you’re planning to upgrade your gear, a quality turntable with a phono preamp can provide a better listening experience than a lot of entry-level options. If you already have an integrated amp or receiver with a phono preamp, you can try out both options as many record players will allow you to bypass the internal preamp.

When You Want to Keep It Simple

Turntables with phono preamps provide the “plug and play” option with fewer components, less cables, and fewer factors that can potentially impact your listening experience. Loose connections and faulty gear can render your setup useless. Turntables with phono preamps allow you to worry about a few less pieces of the home stereo puzzle. You can also plug directly into powered speakers for an extra streamlined setup.

When You Want to Save Money

Good record players with built-in preamps start as low as $150. Brands like Pro-Ject have developed high-quality turntables with built-in phono preamps that won’t cost you more than $500. By skipping the need for an external phono preamp, you can avoid shelling out extra money for your setup. It also means that money in your pocket can go towards record shopping or splurging on some nice speaker cables.

When You Want Great Sound

Pro-Ject is known for their affordable phono preamps, and their turntables with preamps provide the same level of exceptional sound. Record players like the Pro-Ject A1, T1 Phono SB, and E1 Phono all provide a built-in phono preamp with high-end materials and high-fidelity sound. Each also offers a switchable phono stage so if you ever do want to experiment with an external phono preamp, you’ve got options. In either case, any of these three turntables will set you on the right sonic path as your setup continues to evolve. 

Published in partnership with Pro-Ject.

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