ProJect Tube Box S2

Type Tube
THD 0.02%
Outboard power supply 18 V / 1.000 mA DC
Power consumption 470 mA DC
Tubes 2 x ECC83
Subsonic Filter Below 20 Hz
Line-level output RCA(one pair), Phono sockets
Weight 410 g without power supply
RIAA-equalisation Curvee Nonconformity

The first preamp is Tube max S2, and this preamp is much compatible with many varieties of turntables. The S2 preamp comes with the supporting technology for both MM and MC cartridges and is a pre-assembled amplifier that can easily set up, and you have to set it properly and plugin it. The Tube max S2 metal-designed casing feels very solid and is surprisingly heavy. The preamp box has two pairs of common type replaceable ecc83 tubes installed on it already, and you can easily swap them out whenever you want. On the preamp bottom, there are some switches that you can use for changing the input preamps capacitance, and also these switches used for the typical setting impedance of your turntable cartridge. On the front, there are six preamps gain controls steps with led light signals, and next to it, there you can see a small subsonic filter button which will use for rolling of frequencies when you turn it on and by using this subsided subsonic filter, you can roll-off the frequencies below 20 Hz for cutting any low rumble, which may pick-up by your turntable. The Tube max S2 pre-installed tubes are great and are for actual amplification. The preamplifier has no OpAmps (operational amplifiers) option in circuit design, and overall the Tube max S2 box is the best phono preamp for under 500.

Pros
  • Can be used with MM or MC cartridges.
  • Low TDH
  • Multiple gain levels.
  • Easy to hookup.
  • Circuit design without OpAmps.
  • Subsonic filter button.
  • Dual mono circuitry.
  • Gold-plated RCA.
  • Brings 3D "holographic" quality.
Cons
  • The Price.
  • Signal seems ultra precise.
  • Emits low humming sound.

Puffin Phono DSP Preamp

Firmware V1.21
Gain Settings -4dB (CDs) to 72dB (MCs)
Tube (2H)
Tape (3H)
Connectors Traditional RCA-type
Digital inputs DAC
Volume Controller Yes
Bass Controller Yes

The next one is the Puffin Phono DSP, and this elegant phono preamp device comes with only analog outputs and also has a wide range of gain settings. You will find the ground wire hook on the top center, and on the left and right of the hook, there are two inputs and two outputs. The main benefit of the Puffin DSP device is its volume control option which will help you stop the sound while changing your records, and also it features a tilt control option, which will help you adjust the sound warmer and brighter and help you to get higher sound with deep details and lower for a warm sound. People love to listen to the bass, and the Puffin Phono DSP Phono pre-amplifier comes with the base controller, which helps you in controlling the bass graph because, in certain types of music, you want the bass to turn down, so the control button will help you and there is no need to buy any equalizer for adjustment. The Puffin DSP high-frequency filter will help you reduce noise and old LPs sound, which you don’t like to listen to, and on the other hand, its low-frequency filter will help you get rid of rumble motor noises and other noises. The Puffin DSP mono mod will allow you to sum the channel from the left and right, and this pre-amplifier also has a stereo mode. So. overall, the Puffin Phono DSP is the best phono preamp under $500.

Pros
  • Lots of gain settings.
  • Easy to adjust.
  • Easy to hookup.
  • Twenty gain settings.
  • Tilt tone controls.
  • Bass and volume controller.
Cons
  • Large.
  • Emits low humming noise.

ProJect Audio Phono Preamp

Cartridge MM, MC
Gain Range MM: 40 dB, MC: 60 dB
TDH MM 0.01%, MC 0.05%
Impedance Ultra-low Impedance
RCA Sockets Yes- gold-plated
Size Small size
Power Supply 18 Volts
Manufacturer Pro-Ject

The next is Pro-Ject Audio Phono Box and is a compact amplifier that will give you clear sound. The phono box came in a black and brushed metal look, which looks pretty durable but a bit heavy. On the backside of the Pro-Ject Audio box, you will see some input ports and a line-out port, and also it has a selector, which will help you select the MM and MC cartridges you are using with your turntable. You can install it close to the record player without any trouble. The Pro-Ject Audio amplifier power consumption is only 18-Watt, and for power connection, you can find a power port on the backside of the Pro-Ject Audio Box on where other ports are installed. The Pro-Ject Audio company will give you the original power supply inside the package, and you don’t have to purchase a new one. Like other preamps, it also has the same cartridge compatibility. You can easily adjust both MM and MC cartridges, so, overall, the Pro-Ject Audio phono box best phono preamp under $500.

Pros
  • Excellent sound quality.
  • Works with any cartridge.
  • High performance.
  • Small size.
  • Ultra-low impedance output.
  • comes with power adapter.
  • Great mc settings.
  • came with RCA cables.
  • Great body design.
  • Very user friendly.
  • delivers high fidelity performance.
  • RIAA equalization curve.
Cons
  • No LED lights.
  • Bit heavy.

Emotiva Audio XPS One

RIAA Standard RIAA curve +/- 0.25 dB
Operating voltage 100 VAC and 240 VAC
Supporting Cartridge MM/MC
RCA line-level RCA inputs
Gain range MM: 40 dB, MC: 60 dB
TDH MM <0.0075 % , < 0.02%, 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Connector Gold Plated Brass Input
Ground Terminal Yes
Output Connector Yes

Next is the Audio XPS-1 Phono Preamp, which you can easily buy for under $200. With both MM and MC-type cartridges, the Audio XPS-1 is perfectly compatible, and you can connect it with both types of cartridges without any trouble. For changing the cartridge option like MM to MC, the button is broadly installed on the top front of this XPS-1 phono amplifier. The XPS-1 preamp design is much different from other preamps and comes in a long-length design. You will find a resistance value changer on the front, and you can only change one resistance value per channel. There are two left and right output ports in the bottom end for output connection, and when you give a power supply to the amplifier, the power led light will provide you a turn-on signal. Overall the amplifier will give you excellent quality audio with low impedance and is the best phono preamp under 500.

Pros
  • Easy to hookup.
  • Compatible with MM/MC cartridges.
  • Very Low TDH.
  • Easy to adjust.
  • superb analog sound quality.
  • Excellent technical performance.
  • Precise equalization RIAA curve.
  • Very low distortion.
  • Led is pretty bright.
Cons
  • Doesn’t work with MM-type cartridges.

Nobsound Little Bear

Output Voltage 2.0V
Gain = 48dB
Input RIAA ≤ 5Mv THD ≤ 0.5%
Frequency Response Standard characters
Signal to Noise Ratio ≥ 65dB(A)1KHz (input: 10mV; output: 0.7V)
Power supply AC 110V(115V) 60Hz/50Hz
Manufacturer Nobsound
Supporting Tubes 6N2/12AX7 Tubes
Cartridge Type Only MM

If you are looking for a pure tube preamplifier, then the Nobsound Little Bear T11 is suitable for you. The improved variant of the little bear T10 gives you excellent audio performance and active RIAA equalization. If we compare Little Bear T11 with the oldest T10 variant, then T11 is offering very low background noise when your volume is average. You will find both line-in and phonon-in connecting options on the front, and in the front center of the preamp, the volume controller is installed for equalizing the volume at normal and high stages. The T11 has a replaceable tube feature, and you can easily change and replace 6N2/12AX7 tubes when you want.

Pros
  • Easy to use.
  • Low background noise.
  • Low TDH.
  • Re-changeable 6H2,6H2n tubes.
  • Active RIAA equalization.
  • Three metal covers.
  • Great sound performance.
  • Four acrylic covers.
Cons
  • Only for MM cartridges.

Parasound Zphono Phono Preamplifier

RIAA Equalization MM-47 kΩ, MC-47 kΩ or MC-100 Ω
Additional inputs 2
TDH Not specified
XRM Yes
A-D converter Yes
USB output Yes
Rumble filter switch Yes
Mono/stereo Switch Yes

Next is the Parasound Zphono preamplifier, which comes in the list of top phono preamps in market segmentation. The Parasound Zphono will give you high performance within your budget. For entry-level vinyl lovers, this Zphono is the best phono preamp under $500. It features two MM-inputs and MC analog inputs, and both inputs give you balanced XLR, and it also has unbalanced RCA inputs. Like Puffin Phono DSP, it also comes with a mono and stereo switch. It also has the perfect rumble filter, which will significantly help you reduce and cancel extras' rumble noises. Both mono, stereo switches will help you in controlling settings for getting an exceptional audio experience. The main benefit of Parasound Zphono is that you can connect easily connect two turntables at a time with it. The Zphono preamplifier also has a load adjusting feature to move coil cartridges for adjusting load impedance up to 11 adjustments with an impedance knob. The gain option will help you select very suitable gain options for your MM and MC-type cartridges up to standard settings(MC: 40 decibels MM:50 decibels). Overall, the Parasound Zphono is the best phono preamp under 500.

Pros
  • Accurate frequency response.
  • USB has an A-D converter.
  • High quality digital recordings.
  • Has rumble filter switch.
  • Very suitable gain options.
  • Excellent body design.
  • RIAA equalization.
Cons
  • Limited gain range.