Budget MM Pre-Amp to replace CA 540P


Novice Member
As the title says really.

Kit is as it says in my sig, NAD C320BEE Amp, home-made interconnect, Pro-Ject Debut III TT.

I notice that the 540P has quite a bit of noise even when nothing is playing/connected. Admitedly I have to turn the amp up reasonably high to hear it, but nonetheless this does concern me.

Upgrading to an MC cartridge is a possible for the future, but not something to get hung up about right now.

I won't set a budget for now, as I think that the rest of my kit probably sets the standard price/quality-wise.

I basically want to know that I am hearing as much of the LP as my other hardware allows!

dynamic turtle

Novice Member
People forget that phono stages have to amplify signal anything from 100x for a high-output MM cart to an enormous 2000x for a low-output MC cart!

Assuming your PS is providing 200x amplifciation, you'd better make bloody sure that the signal/noise ratio high at a useful amount of gain (minimum of 55dB), otherwise, you'll be hearing a lot of hiss, and not a lot of record!

"Budget phono stage" is therefore a bit of an oxymoron. Of all the components in your chain, it should really be the most expensively engineered, as it has by far the hardest job (particularly if you're using a low-MC). Inexplicably, this is very rarely the case.

My experience of budget PS's isn't too bad though. I've used a Pro-ject Tubebox, Tubebox II and a Phonobox MkI. Despite being quite noisy compared to my reference Audio Research PH5, they're only a fraction of the price and sound quite nice all the same.

If you listen to a lot of classical LP's and need inky black silences, I'm afraid you're going to have to pay for them! Budget a minimum of £500 in that regard. Should get you something nice like a Slee or Acoustec PH-P1.

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