Best Phono Preamps Under $500

Phono preamps, or phono stages, are essential if you want to get the most out of your vinyls. They help make it compatible with modern amps and provide standardised equalisation so you can achieve your desired sound quality. A phono preamp takes the sound from your record player and amplifies it so it can be played through your speakers.

If you don’t have a phono preamp, you won’t be able to enjoy records. And if you don’t like the sound quality of your current one, it may be time to invest in a new one for better audio output. Here’s a review of the most budget-friendly phono preamps worth up to 500 bucks.

Top Phono Preamps Under $500 Review

If you’re into music, having a decent phono preamp is essential. It takes the output produced by your record player and amplifies it, while also making some tweaks to enhance sound quality.

Having an external amp prevents noise interference and helps to provide a warm, richer sound quality. You’ll likely need one if your turntable doesn’t have an internal amplifier or you’re looking for better sound quality from your preamp.

Looking to upgrade your sound setup without breaking the bank? Check out this list of top phono preamps under $500 that will give you amazing sound quality for your audio! We’ve written up a thorough buyer’s guide to help you make the right decision. Take a look and see how the perfect phono preamp can truly make your music shine.


This phono preamp is great ’cause of its versatility and ease of use. It’s got 3 different gain levels, so you can tweak the sound quality to get your ideal music output. It’s also pretty compact too. The only downside is that it makes a low humming sound when you’re not playing music, but it’s easy enough to ignore.

This model looks super stylish and can be matched to any type of turntable. Whether you have something new or vintage, this phono stage would work with it. Plus, the valves/tubes are simple to replace! The good part is that these components don’t get worn out quickly, especially if you use your preamp often.

Handling and adjusting the settings is pretty straightforward – the instructions are labeled clearly and accurately, so it’s not hard to get great sound quality out of your vinyl. Set up is a breeze as well – just follow the instructions! This preamp is compatible with both MC and MM cartridges, meaning you can enjoy all sorts of music on your vinyl. It really opens up the possibilities for your musical experience!


  • Easy to set up

  • 3 Gain levels

  • Low TDH

  • Can be utilized with MC or MC Cartridges


  • Produces a low humming sound


This tube-powered preamp has a built-in headphone amp, which is a great bonus. Though, like other preamps, many might want to upgrade the power supply of this one too. Let’s be honest, this 12-15V preamp is pretty unreliable and prone to electrical noise. For the price you pay, investing in a better power supply can bring a noticeable improvement to your Bellari VP130, offering almost silent performance.

This preamp totally hits the spot with its headphone preamp feature. You get a quarter inch jack as well as a separate headphone output level control which makes it perfect for those looking for an affordable vinyl setup. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly headphone preamp, this one is definitely worth it.


  • Easy to upgrade stock tubes

  • Nice headphones amp

  • Can be utilized with MM Cartridges


  • Power supply not most ideal


This Parasound Zphono preamp is different from the previous two as it’s super quiet and perfect for when you’re not listening to vinyl. It also has an AC polarity switch that takes care of any humming noises which can be annoying.

With this preamp, switching between MM and MC cartridges is a breeze – just flip the switch on the back. Plus, you can get different types of gain depending on the kind of cartridge you use. Another plus is that it’s really handy for taking on trips. No worries about bulky tubes sticking out – it’s thin and convenient with no extra fuss!


  • No humming sound, very quiet

  • Wide range of gain

  • Portable for travel

  • Can be utilized with MM or MC Cartridges


  • With prolonged use, you might start to notice a decline in performance – it all depends on how well you take care of it!


Audio Advisor has a great rundown – the PHO-701 MM/MC phono preamp is an improved version of the PHO-700 and comes with two amazing features. Firstly, a USB connection on turntables gives you the option to transfer your vinyl tracks onto your computer. You can find a range of software on the Web, including free programs like Audacity that will help with archiving.On top of that, the PHO-701 can be customized to various phono cartridges with the dip switches at the bottom. With them, you can effortlessly set your desired input capacitance and impedance.

The PHO-701 has a power supply in a separate chassis to ensure the highest signal quality. This is something that’s really gonna change your vinyl listening experience as it helps protect the audio from interferences and distortion caused by AC currents.

This preamp is super precise with its RIAA correction and uses the best audio parts, both inside and outside. It has one phono input, which you can switch to suit low-output or MM/high-output MC cartridges.


  • Two-chassis MM/MC phono stage

  • USB output to archive vinyl tracks to your computer

  • Use the dip switches to customize your sound experience with a variety of phono cartridges

  • Simple to tweak the capacitance and impedance for different inputs

  • Ultra-low distortion

  • Whether you’re using a mic cartridge with low output or a mm cartridge with high output, it’ll work just fine


  • USB output apparently has some small flaws

  • High price


This preamp is super tiny, a cinch to configure, and produces awesome audio – all while being wallet-friendly. Plus, it’s completely noise-free and can accommodate both MM and MC cartridges – making it really versatile. Even though it’s tiny, this device comes in a slick and tough exterior to keep it safe from any unintentional drops.

It’s easy to use and control, making it an attractive option. You can also easily adjust the sound quality based on your preferences with just a few tweaks. And no matter what cartridge you use, it has super low THD!


  • Low THD

  • Easy to adjust sound performance

  • Easy to set up

  • Small compact

  • No humming sound


  • Not best fit with MM cartridges


Check out this sleek phono preamp with an USB output — a great companion for all digital music fans like the Vincent Pho 701 model. It features natural sound adjustment to provide you with balanced and natural music experience.

One of the best features of this device is its ability to reduce background noise and bypass the RIAA curve. Plus, it contains a headphone amplifier for recording with minimal fuss.A rumble filter can be used to make sure your recordings have a smooth, top-notch sound – all without any extra noise.


  • Headphone usage function that is inbuilt

  • You can tweak the gain settings to get better sound quality

  • High end bass quality sound

  • USB output for digital sound devices


  • This annoying hum coming from somewhere and messing up the peace

  • You can only transfer one signal to the output at once

  • No need to worry about a power button – just switch it off from the main supply when you’re done


This Rega preamp looks great and the circuitry behind it is really impressive. The passive RIAA equalization circuit ensures that it has a really pleasing frequency response, giving its output a sweet and classy character.

The sound of this Rega Fono MM MkIII is immediate and punchy, with good emphasis on attack. If you’re looking for an affordable phono stage that provides great quality, it’s worth having a look at this one.


  • Sleek design

  • Fine handling of timing

  • Great performance


  • Not for MC cartridges


Nobsound recently released the T11 preamp as an upgrade to the T10. It’s tailored for MM cartridges and features one 6Z4 power tube and three 6N2 preamp tubes, which can be swapped out for 12AX7 types.

This preamp has great noise control, mainly because of its improved grounding. It’s got a ground lift switch at the back and 10 feet of grounding wire, so you know it’s gonna be good!If you want to avoid ground hum, attaching this wire to a radiator or a metallic window isn’t the most straightforward fix.

One thing to note about the Little Bear T11 preamp is that the inputs and outputs are situated at the front, which may not be ideal from an aesthetic perspective. However, there’s good reason for it being placed there. This preamp has great sound quality despite the few drawbacks. You can fix the ground hum noise and any other issues by upgrading to tube amps.


  • Impressive warmth sound performance

  • Affordable price yet great value


  • Ground hum noise

  • Not aesthetically pleasing RCA placement


Looking for something budget-friendly but with plenty of features? This Musical Fidelity LX2-LPS is an amazing option, especially since it’s compatible with both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges. You may find its features to be a bit too high end for you, but it still packs quite a punch! Its a great value for the money – delivers plenty of sound with lots of bass. It’d be hard to say no to such a good deal!


  • Suitable for both MM and MC cartridges

  • Impressive spacious, plenty of bass

  • Adjustable impedance


  • For the price, cannot really turn it down


The V90 Amp really stands out with its asynchronous USB connection. This link cuts out the soundcard on your system and lets you make use of the high grade 24-bit Digital to Analogue Convertor (DAC) built into the device. An amplifier can make your music sound even better by increasing the power of your computer’s audio output. There’s also a shared optical digital/analogue 3.5mm input if you want to connect an iPod or MP3 player, or if you want to use it in multiple rooms.

This Phono preamp is tiny compared to regular amplifiers so it’s the perfect fit for any tight space like a crowded desktop, shallow shelf or in multiple rooms if needed. The V90-Amp has 20W of power per channel, so you can crank up your favourite tunes without any hassle. What’s more, Musical Fidelity’s experience in the field makes sure that the audio sounds detailed, energetic and extremely realistic.

The V90-Amp has a full metal body that looks great and provides good protection. It shields the internal elements from mechanical and electrical interference, so there’s less chance of sound distortion.Placing the power supply outside the main unit reduces the chances of mains interference affecting DAC circuitry, which is usually very sensitive.

The Musical Fidelity V90-Amp is a fantastic addition to your computer or home audio system. It’s compact and packs a punch – the perfect small but mighty companion!


  • Asynchronous USB interface

  • Ideal for multi-room system

  • Small sized portable use

  • Toughest of speaker loads

  • Minimalist design, metal casing

  • Less sonic distortion


  • Rotary volume control doesn’t show a number to tell you what level the sound is at

  • No USB cable supplied


This Puffin phono preamp is an awesome buy if you’re a vinyl and audio enthusiast. It has a wide range of gain levels, and it’s incredibly versatile – you can adjust it quickly to connect with any type of system, whether it’s MM or MC cartridges.

What makes it so easy to use is the digital display and toggle switch for adjusting the gain level. You can quickly switch to the desired gain setting in no time. It’s really simple to set up as it has all the necessary labels on the front. You don’t just have to use it with vinyl records either, you can hook it up to CD players too! All of this for such an amazing price – you won’t find a better deal anywhere else!


  • Asynchronous USB interface

  • Ideal for multi-room system

  • Small sized portable use

  • Toughest of speaker loads

  • Minimalist design, metal casing

  • Less sonic distortion


  • Rotary volume control come without a way to measure how loud the sound is, or what setting you’re on

  • No USB cable supplied


We’re totally digging the slick design of this preamp. Function-wise, it’s got a volume control and power on/off button, plus an option to switch between MM and MC cartridges (that’s why it’s called “Duo”), and a 6.3 mm headphone socket. The Alva Duo not only boosts the sound of your records so you can hear them louder on your speakers, but it can also help you listen privately.

In the back, there’s RCA ports for both moving coil and moving magnet turntables, plus two outputs for connecting to an amp or dedicated speakers. The Duo has a grounding post, balance control and power output for mains. It also has an auto power-down feature which turns the Duo off if it’s been inactive for 20 mins+, along with a subsonic filter.

We tested the Alva Duo on a Clearaudio Concept turntable with a moving magnet cartridge and Naim pre/power amp setup and it didn’t disappoint–proving to be a great device right away. This song has great sound and is fit for almost any speaker system of its price range.

This purchase is definitely worth it, as it’s put together nicely and has awesome specs. Its low-noise, excellent performance makes the most of vinyl’s strength. You won’t be disappointed with its detail, headroom and stereo focus.


  • Looks aesthetically pleasing

  • Decent build

  • Impressive specifications

  • Warmth sound

  • Detailed and dynamic


  • Punch can be further improved


This preamp looks great and has upgraded circuitry, so you get a lower noise floor and a better sound than before. The combination of the P9 power supply, P25 motor drive and P24V AC sync motor create an amazing TT-PSU and anti-vibration circuit that has improved the efficiency of motors.

The TT-PSU is much more than just a power supply – it lets you switch between 33RPM and 45RPM with a single press of the button. So no more fumbling around trying to change the belt speed manually. This one comes in two options – Silver and Black. It’s a vinyl supercharger, perfect for minimizing noise and making sure you’ve got the top speed and stability when you need it. The TT-PSU provides 24V of high-quality power to your record player which makes it immune to voltage fluctuation and almost all background noise.

Going green with your audio gear can bring plenty of benefits. Stable pitch, greater bass and wider soundstage are just some of the perks. And don’t forget about a more natural tonality. If you own an RP-3, P3-24 or a P5 turntables, the TT-PSU is pretty much essential. The TT PSU is designed to work with the RP3, P3-24, P5 and P7 Rega turntables exclusively. It can’t be used with any other brand or model of turntable.


  • Sleek design

  • Improved circuitry with lower noise floor

  • Speed stability at maximum

  • Tighter deeper bass

  • More natural tonality


  • Compatible for some turntables only


The Vincent PHO-8 has adjustable gain and loading, so it works with both MM and MC cartridges. It also comes with a handy switch on the front panel to quickly make the change. Not only does it look great, but it’s also super durable.The interior of this preamp looks organized and neat – which is indicative of its quality. Short signal paths, along with high-end components make for a low-noise operation that really sets it apart from standard preamps.

This phono preamp is a cut above the rest because it has a separate power unit instead of the usual internal one. Plus, it’s in its own chassis! This product is known for being heavier than usual due to the massive transformer and high-quality power regulation it has, resulting in minimal AC power line ripples and interruptions.

If you’re looking for a warm, romantic sound this phono preamp is perfect. It gives you the right balance of warmth and clarity without making the audio harsh. The bass is tight and its soundstage width is pretty impressive giving it that extra sense of depth. This preamp is really quiet in terms of background noise, so it’s perfect for analog fans and first-timers. All in all, it’ll definitely meet your expectations and be a great addition to your setup.


  • Gain and load optimized

  • Suitable for MM and MC cartridges

  • Well finished design look

  • Low background noise

  • Warm sound performance


  • Kind of heavier than other preamps in mass

Buying Guide for Phono Preamps

Here, we’ll cover all the info you need to find the top phono preamp under $500 that suits your sound preferences.

About the Phono Preamp and How do you use One

A phono preamp is like a translator between your turntable and speakers. The signal that comes out of the cartridge on a turntable is about 1000 times weaker compared to what you’d get from streaming or CD players.

This signal’s pretty weak, so you’ll need something to amp it up if you want it to come through on your speakers. A phono preamp boosts the signal you get from your turntable so that it can be hooked up to a stereo, just like any other audio source.

Features to consider before buying

If you’re on the hunt for a phono preamp, there are some key features to consider. Here we’ll go over what you need to know before landing on the perfect model for your situation.

Type and functionality

Two kinds of phono preamps have recently been made readily available, each one compatible with the two different kinds of cartridges found in turntables. Before you get a phono preamp, check out your turntable to make sure you’re getting the right one for what you want. That way, your purchase will be successful.

  • MM (Moving Magnet) – A lot of the modern turntables feature an MM cartridge. This type is less powerful compared to an MC cartridge, so if you hook up an MC one with a MM one it could lead to distorted sound.

  • MC (Moving Coil) – MC cartridges produce less volume than MM cartridges, so you’ll need to amplify it if you want to use it. You can hook up an MC cartridge to an MM phono, but it’s likely not going to be powerful enough for you to listen.

Lucky for us, there are phono stages out there that can work with both types of cartridges. So you don’t have to worry about getting the wrong one – just find the right stage and it’ll work perfectly with either cartridge for top-notch sound. Most of these models come with a switch so you can flick between the two settings depending on which cartridge you’re using.

Gain range

A phono stage’s gain range explains how much boost it can give. The type of cartridge you have – either MC or MM – determines what gain level you need.

No worries when it comes to phono preamps – they make it easy for you! Most models out there give you at least 40dB of gain, which is more than enough. If you do need some extra boost, some models can get up to 50dB of gain. This is probably only applicable for a record player that has an MC cartridge, since they require more amps than MM cartridges.


THD stands for Total Harmonic Distortion, which is a way to measure how much a system isn’t linear. To measure THDs, you have to send a sine wave as input to the system and compare the energy present in the output with what was sent. This lets you gauge how efficiently an equipment is operating.

In simpler words, the THD generated by a phono stage helps to anticipate how clear the audio will be. The closer it is to 0, the “purer” the sound since there can be less distortion than if it had been higher.

Included accessories

Though they might sound a bit complicated, setting up a phono preamp is actually quite easy. Just grab some cables and adapters, and you’ll be able to link it with your turntable and sound system in no time!

When setting up, make sure you’ve got two audio cables handy. These let you connect a turntable to a phono stage and then that to the speaker system of your liking. A preamp that offers these should do the trick! Keep the cable length as short as possible – no more than five feet. Any extra length can lead to signal and sound loss or distortion.

Extra features

Sure, getting a basic preamp could do the job but it’s worth looking at the added extras when you’re shopping around. As you already read, some preamps have the ability to switch between MM and MC amplifying modes – this can come in super handy if you own a couple of turntables!

Don’t forget to look for models with adjustable gain levels – this’ll help you create the exact sound you’re after, no matter what you’re listening to.


When it comes to phono preamps under $500, there’s a wide selection of options with their own pros and cons. You just need to take into account your turntables and what kind of features you’re looking for.

Amongst all the models available, the Pro-Ject Tube Box S takes the cake for being the top phono preamp under $500. It’s easy to install and use, plus it gives great value for money! This preamp has three gain stages, so it can quickly and easily maintain the sound level of either MM or MC cartridges. If you want to get a great one under $500, don’t miss out on this model!

If you’re trying to save money, then take a look at the Pro-Ject Audio Phono Box MM/MC – it’s a great budget choice. Setting up this vinyl record player is a breeze, it’s compatible with both MM or MC cartridges and through it you can rip your records directly onto your computer so they’re kept digitally. For the price, it’s seriously a great deal!

Money aside, if you’re looking for the most versatile phono preamp, then go for the Puffin Phono DSP. Setting up this product is really straightforward and it has the best gain range compared to other products. If you’ll be connecting lots of different turntables and sound systems, this is definitely the right choice.

FAQ for Best Phono Preamps Under $500

I already have a mixer and/or digital interface. Do I still need a preamp?

Some turntables come with a preamp included, particularly if they have a digital interface. So, it’s likely that you don’t need to get an extra preamp if you’re buying one of these models.

If you’re connecting your turntable to a mixer, you don’t need to worry about getting an extra preamp; mixers are already functioning as one.

If you’re unsure if your sound system has a preamp, check it out. Older systems usually have an input labelled ‘PHONO’ and newer ones with USB will likely have a built-in preamp.

Can I connect a preamp to my media player, iPod or smartphone? Or are preamps designed to be connected only to turntables?

Don’t bother connecting a media player, iPod, or smartphone to a preamp. They don’t need the same level of signal boosting as a turntable does. Connecting devices to a preamp won’t do anything for sound quality. Actually it’ll produce distorted sounds and can potentially harm the preamp.

What cables and accessories do I need to connect a phono preamp to my turntable? What is the correct way to hook it up?

If your record player needs an external amp, then you’ll need to get a few cords to set it up with your sound system. Your amp will have a power adapter included, so that’s already taken care of.

Don’t forget to grab two sets of RCA cables – one to connect your turntable and preamp, and the other one to connect your preamp to your sound system. You can tell the cables apart easily since they’re red and white. Make sure to get a cable no longer than 5ft – any more and the sound may be distorted.

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