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stinkypommels
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Do I need a phono preamp/stage?

Hi all,

Do I need a phono preamp/stage?

I've read that my my new cartridge (AT-VM95E) needs a lower capacitance that my integrated amp gives out, and that I would need a phono preamp for better sound. Based on my setup below, can anyone weigh in on what they think? Is it worth it, and do you recommend any particular unit?

Technics SU-V550 integrated amp

Technics SL-220 turntable

Audio Technica VM95E cartridge

Acoustic Energy AE109 speakers

Thanks in advance!

Catch22
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Phono preamps do make a difference

But, then again, everything can make a difference. Your stuff seems matched with what you have just fine.

hoytis
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Second that

Is there something wrong with the sound you're currently getting out of your system? Unless you're simply itching for something different (not necessarily better) just stay the course. That cart plays well with all phono stages, and your system is great. However, with that said, I run a Vincent PHO-701 tube preamp in one of my rigs, and love it. I like a more laid back, warmer sound and this took some of the edge off beautifully without muddying the waters. So I totally understand the pull to check out other pieces...it's the audiophile rabbit hole...thinking the holy grail sweet spot is just around the corner :)

Glotz
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You didn't mention what capacitance you look to achieve vs...

What the cart is asking for. There is a good chance that you are not off that far in your requirements. That cart should be able to work with your integrated's phono preamp section because the AT tries to make sure that their carts work with standard moving magnet cart requirements. If you are off in the capacitance dept., it is negligible. Or try interconnect cables that have less overall capacitance. More than likely you are confusing this with resistive loading. Different, and way more critical to great sound. In the case of MM's, there is only one setting. Most mfg's use 47k Ohms.

Parasound Zphono has had great reviews, and Schiit Audio Mani for $129 is great too. I have a $2500 phono preamp and yet I use a $200 Schiit Audio Modius DAC for digital playback. There are so many great, inexpensive brands it's almost too hard to offer all of the ones that are great under $200. Definitely check out Analog Planet and do some searching. Stereophile's sister site. I would get to $300-500 on a cart before spending money on a phono pre.

You should read the Recommended Components section for most appropriate suggestions in your price range, for a phono preamp. It will help, but at this price range you are at (right now - above), you should stick with your current set up and invest in better cabling or a better cartridge. I owned that cart a long time ago and it is fantastic, for the money. Since you didn't list your cables, bingo... you need to start learning about them and upgrade that way FIRST. Speaker cable then interconnects . Get a return policy and buy Audioquest if you don't wanna learn.

Since your request is analog based, the biggest upgrade in an analog set up is still the focal point of the cartridge (and then the preamp to amplify it). The turntable quality, in terms of table and arm is super important too. But all of this movement requires cash to move up to the next level. Analog is no joke in terms of cost to improvement ratio. It's brutal. The issue is that once you get a table set up that is ready for the next level, so is your amplifier and then the phono preamp that goes with it.

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