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Tube phono preamps are great, but many people have questions about them and how they work. They also wonder how much they cost. Luckily, the answers to those questions are below if you keep reading.
Tube phono preamps increase and improve the sound that turntables play. Tube phono preamps use vacuum tubes to amplify the signal turntables emit when playing music, which makes the music louder and clearer. Tube phono preamps cost $65-$3,000 and are more expensive than other type of phono preamps.
Now that you know how tube phono preamps work and how much they typically cost, you may be wondering why they cost so much, and what types of phono preamps there are. Keep reading to find out.
Are there Different Types of Phono Preamps?
There are multiple types of phono preamps. There are tube phono preamps and solid state preamps. Solid state preamps are slightly more popular than tube phono preamps because they are typically cheaper, but both types of phono preamp work well.
There are also phono preamps that work with Moving Magnetic Cartridges (MM) or Moving Coil Cartridge (MC) turntable systems. Most phono preamps nowadays work with both MM and MC systems, but some don’t.
Tube phono preamps use analogue tubes and valves to amplify the signal that turntables emit when they play vinyl records. Meanwhile, solid state preamps use silicon transistor components to amplify the same signal.
Tube phono preamps are typically more resistant to voltage spikes and other things associated with electricity that can cause solid state preamps to malfunction and stop working. However, tube phono amps require more electricity than solid state preamps in order to function properly, so they will increase your electricity bill, even if you don’t use it for a long time.
Tube phono preamps are more fragile than solid state preamps. The tubes and coils that tube phono preamps use to work are fragile and expensive. if you drop a tube phono preamp machine, it will break and you will likely have to purchase things to repair it. Solid state preamps are more durable than tube phono preamps, but it is very expensive to have them repaired when they break.
It is very easy to fix tube phono preamp machines because the tubes break more frequently than other parts. When one of the glass tubes break, they can just be unscrewed and replaced with a new one. They only cost between $12-$20 and can be found on many online shopping websites or at stores that sell vinyl records.
But which type of phono preamp machine should you choose? If you plan on moving your phono preamp machine often then don’t choose a tube phono preamp machine as it will likely break when moved, and you don’t want that to happen.
Now that you know a little bit about tube and solid state phono preamps, you may be wondering if tube phono preamps are useful.
Are Tube Phono Preamps Useful?
Tube phono preamps are useful because they make the music that is playing from your turntable louder, clearer, and improve the quality. However, sometimes you don’t need to purchase a separate tube phono preamp system.
Many record players nowadays have preamp systems built in, so you don’t need to purchase a separate phono preamp system. However, if you do want to purchase a tube preamp system and your turntable already has a system built in, you can turn it off and use the separate system. Although, you will save money if you just use your turntable’s phono preamp system instead of purchasing a separate phono preamp system. (Source)
Overall, tube phono preamps are useful if you have a turntable that doesn’t already have a tube phono preamp system installed, or when the already installed phono preamp system doesn’t work well.
How Much Do Tube Phono Preamps Cost?
Tube phono preamps typically cost between $65-$3,000 dollars, so they are not cheap. Turntable phono preamps typically only cost $20-$2,000, so tube phono preamps are more expensive than other phono preamp systems. However, many people who have tube phono preamp machines think that the cost is worth it.
Tube Phono Preamp Recommendations
Now that you know what tube phono preamps are and how they work, you may be wondering what the best ones are. Luckily, compiled below is a list of the best ones. if you are worried about how much they cost, don’t worry, as there are some machines on here that work with smaller budgets.
ICON Audio PS1 MkII MM/MC Tube Phono Preamplifier
The ICON Audio PS1 MkII MM/MC Tube Phono Preamplifier is the best expensive tube phono preamp. It is rated 5 stars and costs $2,499.
The ICON Audio PS1 MkII MM/MC Tube Phono Preamplifier is wired by hand, which increases the price, but it removes impurities that reduce the quality of the music when older records are played, which makes this the best preamp for people who frequently listen to old records.
With the ICON Audio PS1 MkII MM/MC Tube Phono Preamplifier, you can control the volume and increase it so you can hear the wonderful, detailed sound coming from it. You will definitely enjoy playing your records when you use this preamplifier.
Click here if you would like to purchase the ICON Audio PS1 MkII MM/MC Tube Phono Preamplifier.
Little Bear T7 Vacumn Tube Mini Phono Stage
The Little Bear T7 Vacumn Tube Mini Phono Stage is also a wonderful tube phono preamp that is highly rated. It is rated 5 stays and only costs $65-$81 at the time of writing.
The Little Bear T7 Vacumn Tube Mini Phono Stage can only be used with MM turntables, so make sure that your turntable is an MM system before you purchase this machine. The bulbs on this tube phono preamp can be easily replaced when they break, and it is compatible with 5654, 6AK5, and EF95 tubes.
The Little Bear T7 Vacumn Tube Mini Phono Stage comes in black or silver and it is small and portable, so you can move it with little worry about if the tubes will break.
If you would like to purchase the Little Bear T7 Vacumn Tube Mini Phono Stage, click here to go to Amazon
EAT E-Glo S Hybrid Tube Phono Preamplifier
The EAT E-Glo S Hybrid Tube Phono Preamplifier is one of the best tube phono preamps. It is rated 5 stars by consumers, but it costs $2,995.
The EAT E-Glo S Hybrid Tube Phono Preamplifier is portable and can be tucked away when it is not being used. You can control and change many things on the front control panel. One neat feature about this tube phono preamp is that the control panel is lit by small LED lights so you can change the settings even when the lights are off.
The EAT E-Glo S Hybrid Tube Phono Preamplifier produces wonderful sound so you can enjoy listening to your vinyl records. Unfortunately, the tubes that help it produce that sound are not common. They are Swiss-made and use zircon anodes rather than graphite anodes, which are more expensive to produce. This means if the tubes on this tube phono preamp machine break, you will have to pay a lot of money to replace them.
If you would like to purchase the EAT E-Glo S Hybrid Tube Phono Preamplifier, click here.
Valhalla 2 Headphone Amplifier
The Valhalla 2 Headphone Amplifier is one of the best tube phono preamps as it is rated 5 stars and only costs $349, which is relatively cheap for this type of phono preamp.
The Valhalla 2 Headphone Amplifier comes in a silver color that will look great in your home. It comes with a 5 year warranty so you won’t have to pay to replace it if it breaks for a long time.
The Valhalla 2 Headphone Amplifier has a gain switch on the front that allows you to control the amount of output level and impedance that comes from it. It also produces wonderful sound when you use it. You can plug your headphones into this phono preamp so you can hear the sound it produces when it is late or if you want to enjoy the music your playing from your turntable.
If you would like to purchase the Valhalla 2 Headphone Amplifier, click here.
Eat E Glo Petit Hybrid Tube Phono Preamplifier
The Eat E Glo Petit Hybrid Tube Phono Preamplifier is a great tube phono preamp. It is rated 4.9 stars by consumers, and it costs $1,495.
The Eat E Glo Petit Hybrid Tube Phono Preamplifier is made out of aluminum so it is slightly more durable than some other tube phono preamp machines. It is designed to be slim and not take up a lot of room in your household, so you can put it nearly anywhere. the tubes are even hidden so they won’t break as easily as when they are exposed.
The Eat E Glo Petit Hybrid Tube Phono Preamplifier produces clear midrange sound, and any music that you are playing from your turntable will be clear and wonderful.
If you would like to purchase the Eat E Glo Petit Hybrid Tube Phono Preamplifier, click here.
Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Black Tube Phono Preamplifier
The Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Black Tube Phono Preamplifier is encased in metal and aluminum, which makes it more durable than many other tube phono preamps. The tubes are easy to replace if they break or if you want to change the level of sound that this preamp produces. It has 5 impedance settings that you can adjust to make the music it plays suit your preferences.
You can use both MM and MC turntables with the Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Black Tube Phono Preamplifier. The connection points are also gold-plated so they will not become corroded over time, which means you will be able to use this phono preamp machine for years to come if you purchase it.
If you would like to purchase the Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Black Tube Phono Preamplifier, click here to go to Amazon.
Any of the tube phono preamps will work very well, but which one you choose to purchase is up to you. Although all of these preamps seem very expensive, they will all last for years to come and help you enjoy listening to your vinyl records that you treasure. if you purchase one of these tube phono preamp machines, you will be able to enjoy your vinyl records for years to come, and your turntable will be able to produce clearer and louder music than before.
Tube phono preamps work well and improve the quality of the sound that comes from your vinyl records, which is very important to many people. Although the tubes are easy to break, so you may not want to put one of these preamps in a place where young children can reach them, they are also easy to replace and most of the time only cost $12-$20 per tube.
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