Question Should I upgrade my set with a seperate Phono Preamp? Added value & advice

BM10975

Active member
Aug 21, 2023
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Hi all

I presently own the following hifi equipment:

  • Yamaha RN-800a stereo receiver featuring a built-in phono stage.
  • A set of Q Acoustics 3050 speakers.
  • Rel T/5x subwoofer.
  • Yamaha Vinyl 500 record player upgraded with an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge.

While I generally enjoy the performance of my current audio setup, I find myself contemplating the idea of acquiring a standalone phono preamp. Occasionally, I don't find the vinyl playback as impressive as I'd like, and I'm uncertain about the quality of the built-in phono stage in the Yamaha RN-800a.

Another concern is the need to significantly (a huge lot) increase the volume when playing vinyl, which is somewhat inconvenient. So, I'm seeking advice on whether investing in a separate phono preamp would be beneficial for my setup and if it would address the volume issue.

Furthermore, I've tested the Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 and, while satisfied with the sound, I was disappointed with the build quality as both units I tested experienced malfunctions. Given this, I'm open to alternative suggestions for phono preamps that offer both quality performance and reliable construction, and bring added value to the current setup.

I appreciate any recommendations or insights you can provide. Thanks.
 
Last edited:

Al ears

Well-known member
Hi all

I presently own the following hifi equipment:

  • Yamaha RN-800a stereo receiver featuring a built-in phono stage.
  • A set of Q Acoustics 3050 speakers.
  • Rel T/5x subwoofer.
  • Yamaha Vinyl 500 record player upgraded with an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge.

While I generally enjoy the performance of my current audio setup, I find myself contemplating the idea of acquiring a standalone phono preamp. Occasionally, I don't find the vinyl playback as impressive as I'd like, and I'm uncertain about the quality of the built-in phono stage in the Yamaha RN-800a.

Another concern is the need to significantly (a huge lot) increase the volume when playing vinyl, which is somewhat inconvenient. So, I'm seeking advice on whether investing in a separate phono preamp would be beneficial for my setup and if it would address the volume issue.

Furthermore, I've tested the Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 and, while satisfied with the sound, I was disappointed with the build quality as both units I tested experienced malfunctions. Given this, I'm open to alternative suggestions for phono preamps that offer both quality performance and reliable construction, and bring added value to the current setup.

I appreciate any recommendations or insights you can provide. Thanks.
How much do you have to spend on the phono preamp.
It might help with the volume issue as the one in the Yamaha clearly isn't ideal.
Did the Tube Box help with the volume issues?
I thought that turntable had a built in phono preamp anyway, does it not?
 

BM10975

Active member
Aug 21, 2023
9
1
25
Hi Al ears
Thanks for the response

I am considering something in the price range of the Tubebox S2. It indeed helped a lot with the volume, especially with the manually adjustable ohms at the back, and the adjustable gain at the front.
I also experienced a warmer, more detailed sound from it.

However, it's quite coincidental that I've had the chance to test two of these , and both experienced malfunctions during the process (they became exceptionally hot, the left channel frequently dropped out, until all the LED lights were on, and the device completely stopped functioning). A bit reluctant to go for this one.
 

Al ears

Well-known member
Hi Al ears
Thanks for the response

I am considering something in the price range of the Tubebox S2. It indeed helped a lot with the volume, especially with the manually adjustable ohms at the back, and the adjustable gain at the front.
I also experienced a warmer, more detailed sound from it.

However, it's quite coincidental that I've had the chance to test two of these , and both experienced malfunctions during the process (they became exceptionally hot, the left channel frequently dropped out, until all the LED lights were on, and the device completely stopped functioning). A bit reluctant to go for this one.
I thought your turntable had an inbuilt phono preamp. Not much point in having paid for three.
 
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BM10975

Active member
Aug 21, 2023
9
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25
I thought your turntable had an inbuilt phono preamp. Not much point in having paid for three.


That's accurate, but I didn't acquire this turntable for its integrated preamp.
It's just a feature compatible with the musiccast app, that I do not use in this case.

Moreover, in my opinion, this built-in preamp is far from great as it amplifies all audio in an unpleasant manner.
You get like a pumped up version of all songs (a bit like basic streaming quality)
Consequently, there's a constant need to lower the volume with this integrated preamp. That's not ideal :)

I just use the phono output
 

Al ears

Well-known member
That's accurate, but I didn't acquire this turntable for its integrated preamp.
It's just a feature compatible with the musiccast app, that I do not use in this case.

Moreover, in my opinion, this built-in preamp is far from great as it amplifies all audio in an unpleasant manner.
You get like a pumped up version of all songs (a bit like basic streaming quality)
Consequently, there's a constant need to lower the volume with this integrated preamp. That's not ideal :)

I just use the phono output
If you don't use the functions on the turntable I would question why you bought that particular make.
As for seperate phono preamp I would look at solid-state versions like the MOFI Studiophono
 
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WayneKerr

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Jan 21, 2022
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That's accurate, but I didn't acquire this turntable for its integrated preamp.
It's just a feature compatible with the musiccast app, that I do not use in this case.

Moreover, in my opinion, this built-in preamp is far from great as it amplifies all audio in an unpleasant manner.
You get like a pumped up version of all songs (a bit like basic streaming quality)
Consequently, there's a constant need to lower the volume with this integrated preamp. That's not ideal :)

I just use the phono output
If you are using the preamp in the turntable then you need to connect the phono leads to an aux input on the amp. Do not use the phono connection on the amp otherwise you are amping the signal twice hence the volume discrepancy and distortion.
 
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BM10975

Active member
Aug 21, 2023
9
1
25
If you are using the preamp in the turntable then you need to connect the phono leads to an aux input on the amp. Do not use the phono connection on the amp otherwise you are amping the signal twice hence the volume discrepancy and distortion.

Hi,

Thank you for the guidance.

Nevertheless, I followed your instructions and still find the output to be subpar, even poor.
I conducted a test by using two sets of cables: one from the phono output on the turntable to the phono stage of the amplifier, and the other from the aux output on the turntable to an aux input on the amplifier.
Switching between them for comparison is quite straightforward.

All I can note is that the phono output sounds significantly better :)
 

BM10975

Active member
Aug 21, 2023
9
1
25
If you don't use the functions on the turntable I would question why you bought that particular make.
As for seperate phono preamp I would look at solid-state versions like the MOFI Studiophono

I liked it, also aesthetically. And on top, i got a great deal (with even a free 2M Blue update). As simple as that :).
I never intented to use the built-in preamp, since I assumed it couldn't be one of high quality at this price range.

Thanks for the suggestion. I will look into it
 

Al ears

Well-known member
I liked it, also aesthetically. And on top, i got a great deal (with even a free 2M Blue update). As simple as that :).
I never intented to use the built-in preamp, since I assumed it couldn't be one of high quality at this price range.

Thanks for the suggestion. I will look into it
No problem. I just find it odd that people buy stuff with functions they are never going to use and / or are not satisfactory.
If you got it for a good price then that's excellent.
 

Rodolfo

Well-known member
Jul 31, 2023
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Call me old-school, old-fashioned, or just old, but I wonder, am curious -and for my learning purposes- about any wireless/MusicCast features that may be , or may have been limiting your setup: Are/were you connecting wirelessly at any stage? I would tend to trust your Yamaha's phono stage, BTW, only because I've trusted and enjoyed a Yamaha one in the past. Wondering only, and good luck gaining volume, which is important.
 
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BM10975

Active member
Aug 21, 2023
9
1
25
Call me old-school, old-fashioned, or just old, but I wonder, am curious -and for my learning purposes- about any wireless/MusicCast features that may be , or may have been limiting your setup: Are/were you connecting wirelessly at any stage? I would tend to trust your Yamaha's phono stage, BTW, only because I've trusted and enjoyed a Yamaha one in the past. Wondering only, and good luck gaining volume, which is important.
Hello Rodolfo,

I don't use any of the wireless MusicCast features, at least definitely not in my vinyl setup. I use the vinyl player as one without a preamp, so I connect the un-amplified phono RCA output directly to the phono RCA input of my Yamaha amp.
Furthermore, when I listen to vinyl, all unnecessary (including wireless) circuits are deactivated.

I enjoy the sound it produces, but I've noticed that I need to crank up the volume (*2.5 / *3) more compared to other sources. While some volume increase is expected with vinyl, it feels a bit more pronounced than I've experienced in the past.
Considering this, I've been thinking about getting a good preamp that not only addresses the volume issue but also enhances the overall audio quality. I gave the Pro-Ject tube preamp a try and liked the sound, but I wasn't impressed with its build quality.

Of course, I do use the MusicCast app on the RN-800a amp for streaming from Qobuz and other services, but again, not in my vinyl setup
 
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Rodolfo

Well-known member
Jul 31, 2023
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Hello Rodolfo,

I don't use any of the wireless MusicCast features, at least definitely not in my vinyl setup. I use the vinyl player as one without a preamp, so I connect the un-amplified phono RCA output directly to the phono RCA input of my Yamaha amp.
Furthermore, when I listen to vinyl, all unnecessary (including wireless) circuits are deactivated.

I enjoy the sound it produces, but I've noticed that I need to crank up the volume (*2.5 / *3) more compared to other sources. While some volume increase is expected with vinyl, it feels a bit more pronounced than I've experienced in the past.
Considering this, I've been thinking about getting a good preamp that not only addresses the volume issue but also enhances the overall audio quality. I gave the Pro-Ject tube preamp a try and liked the sound, but I wasn't impressed with its build quality.

Of course, I do use the MusicCast app on the RN-800a amp for streaming from Qobuz and other services, but again, not in my vinyl setup
Thank you, BM. Learning from your post and this one: https://forums.whathifi.com/threads/got-a-deal-on-a-yamaha-r-n800a-its-amazing.130772/
 
Last edited:

BM10975

Active member
Aug 21, 2023
9
1
25
Hi,

I concur with the sentiments expressed in the other review regarding the Yamaha RN-800a amplifier—it truly stands out. Despite having previously owned various stereo hi-fi amplifiers paired with the same speakers and sub (Marantz/Rotel), none have quite reached the level of sound quality achieved by this particular amp. Its ability to deliver a musical and natural sound appeals to my preferences.

When listening to high-resolution studio-quality content on platforms like Qobuz, the experience is unparalleled and surpasses anything I've encountered before.

The sole point worth highlighting pertains to the Phono Stage. I've not encountered any other amplifier that required me to turn up the volume to such a high level before for vinyl.
 

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