We have done a ton of preamp reviews here on the site. Today though we are taking a deeper look at the world of preamps as we ask the question, how important is a good preamp to improve sound quality? I hand on heart feel that a good preamp can really make a difference to the sound that you are getting from your turntable, but do you need a preamp that is in the 500 to 1000 bucks range or will a cheaper preamp do? That is what we are taking a look at today. So, if you are a vinyl collector that has started to get a tad more invested in listening to music and wants to get more into the hobby, taking a look at preamps is a step in the right direction.
Why Do I Need A Preamp?
You can buy a turntable like this Crosley T400 Fully Automatic 2-Speed Component Turntable with Built-in Preamp one here and it costs under 100 bucks and it has the preamp built in. For most people, this is great and will be more than fine. Others (like me, who are more anal about their sound) want the sound to be as close to the way as it was in the recording booth as possible. That is really what a preamp is doing, it is taking the sound that cartridge is making and making it sound the best it can. So, I do feel most people will be fine without a preamp and probably will live in blissful ignorance not even knowing it is a thing.
You may even have some kind of receiver and this will have a preamp built into it. This does tend to be the more expensive ones that would have this. So again, while I have a preamp and I can see why for some people it is something that feels like it is not necessary and I say god bless you, folks!
Do I Need An Expensive Preamp To Have Great Sound Quality?
Look, if you are super rich then you could go and spend thousands of bucks on something like this epic Marantz AV8805 – 13.2 Channel AV Audio Component Pre-Amp which is like a Ferrari of preamps. For 99 percent of people (even a psycho like myself), something like this is completely over the top and not necessary, although I would not turn one down. If you ask me, you can get a notable improvement from the standard sound your turntable and cartridge is giving you even if you have a more affordable preamp like this rolls Phono Preamp which costs around 50 bucks is going to serve you well.
I find that thinking about a preamp as something that is going to help get the best out of your turntable and cartridge is better than thinking of it as some magical device that is going to make your sound the greatest in the world is the way to go. Some record players can 100 percent give you fantastic sound without having to go and purchase a preamp. I would maybe suggest that you do a Google search of your turntable and a preamp and see if anyone else has used one with the turntable that you have.
Does It Really Make A Difference?
I have to be honest and say that if you are someone just getting into vinyl, chances are you will not need a preamp. You will be more than fine with the music that your turntable is giving you and that is cool. Hell, I wish I was like that! However, I do feel that once you have used one, that you can notice a difference. I love live music and I even have a new Jackson 5 Live Album pre-ordered that I cannot wait for and I am certain it is going to sound better coming through the turntable that I have connected to my Nobsound 12AX7 12AU7 Vacuum Tube Preamp HiFi Preamplifier than it will the cheaper turntable I have in the back room.
So, to answer the question of how important is a good preamp to improve sound quality? I would have to say it depends on you. For me personally, I do think it can make a difference, but I also know many people are fine with the sound quality their turntable gives them on its own.
So, Should I Buy A Preamp?
This is such a tough question to answer in all honesty with you and I am not just saying that as a cheap cop-out! We have looked at a ton of great preamps here on the site and I am 100 percent confident that if you feel like you do need a preamp that you will find the right one for you here. The thing is if you have just gone and bought your first turntable, let’s say something like this Byron Statics Vinyl Record Player, 3 Speed Turntable which is as budget as you can get. You do not need a preamp, just go with the flow and have fun getting into the world of collecting vinyl.
However, if you are a person who is starting to get more “into” the world of vinyl collecting and record players then getting a preamp is worth doing and if we look at our original question, how important is a good preamp to improve sound quality? I do feel that it is quite important if you are very serious about your vinyl and the sound quality you are experiencing.
You know that we love looking at turntables, sound systems, and pretty much anything that can let you have fun in your own home here on the site. Stuff like a preamp is more aimed at those of you who are a bit more serious about this kind of stuff. I think getting a preamp can 100 percent make a difference, but I am not really your average Joe, I am a tad more obsessive about this kind of stuff.