Best Phono Preamp Under $500

Best Phono Preamp Under $500


Our expert team has listed the best phono pre-amplifier for both vinyl and digital records, which will give you excellent quality and exceptional audio experience at a reasonable price. At $500, these are a steal for bringing out the warmth of your favorite records and cartridges. We’re confident you’ll enjoy them as much as we do!

There are many inexpensive preamps in markets, but the price does not count for outstanding quality-sound because a low-budget pre-amplifier will provide you sound with low quality, and you cannot perfectly enjoy your vinyl records. Our listed Pre-Amplifier is compatible with Both MM (moving magnet) and MC (moving coil) cartridges and many kinds of turntables. Vinyl record lovers always hate off extra and high rumble noise, so these preamps feature rumble filters to cancel extra rumble noise and help you reduce noise.

Our Top 3 Recommendations

Best Pick  ProJect Tube Box S2 ProJect Tube Box S2

Can be used with MM or MC cartridges

Low TDH

Multiple gain levels

Most Popular  Puffin Phono DSP Preamp Puffin Phono DSP Preamp

Lots of gain settings

Easy to adjust

Easy to hookup

Budget Pick ProJect Audio Phono Preamp ProJect Audio Phono Preamp

Excellent sound quality

Works with any cartridge

High performance

The Best Phono Preamp Under $500

If you need a mid-range stereo performance, then the Puffin preamplifier can help match your turntable with additional connectivity options. These listed preamps have excellent mono mods, stereo switches, and load impedance adjustment features for the best sound quality. But if you want to achieve an exceptional audio experience that will blow your mind and leave you coming back for more, then an investment in a better equipment is required. But still, for an exceptional audio experience, you need some little investment.

Best Phono Preamp Under $500 Summary

Award Image Model Price
Best tube phono preamp under $500  ProJect Tube Box S2 ProJect Tube Box S2 See On Amazon
Best phono stage under $500  Puffin Phono DSP Preamp Puffin Phono DSP Preamp See On Amazon
best phono preamp under $200 ProJect Audio Phono Preamp ProJect Audio Phono Preamp See On Amazon
Best budget phono preamp Emotiva Audio XPS One Emotiva Audio XPS One See On Amazon
Best phono preamp with headphone jack  Nobsound Little Bear Nobsound Little Bear See On Amazon
Best high end phono preamps Parasound Zphono Phono Preamplifier Parasound Zphono Phono Preamplifier See On Amazon

Best Phono Preamp Under $500 At a Glance:

Best Phono Preamp Under $500 Reviews

ProJect Tube Box S2 (Image credit: Amazon)

ProJect Tube Box S2

Best tube phono preamp under $500

SPECIFICATIONS

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

REASONS TO BUY

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

REASONS TO AVOID

The Price

Signal seems ultra precise

Emits low humming sound

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.

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Puffin Phono DSP Preamp (Image credit: Amazon)

Puffin Phono DSP Preamp

Best phono stage under $500

SPECIFICATIONS

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

REASONS TO BUY

Lots of gain settings

Easy to adjust

Easy to hookup

Twenty gain settings

Tilt tone controls

Bass and volume controller

REASONS TO AVOID

Large

Emits low humming noise

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 best 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.

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ProJect Audio Phono Preamp (Image credit: Amazon)

ProJect Audio Phono Preamp

best phono preamp under $200

SPECIFICATIONS

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

REASONS TO BUY

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 cable

Great body design

Very user friendly

Delivers high fidelity performance

RIAA equalization curve

REASONS TO AVOID

No LED lights

Bit heavy

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.

Emotiva Audio XPS One (Image credit: Amazon)

Emotiva Audio XPS One

Best budget phono preamp

SPECIFICATIONS

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

REASONS TO BUY

Easy to hookup

Compatible with MM/MC cartridge

Very Low TDH

Easy to adjust

superb analog sound quality

Excellent technical performance

Precise equalization RIAA curve

Very low distortion

Led is pretty bright

REASONS TO AVOID

Doesn’t work with MM-type cartridge

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.

Nobsound Little Bear (Image credit: Amazon)

Nobsound Little Bear

Best phono preamp with headphone jack

SPECIFICATIONS

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

REASONS TO BUY

Easy to use

Low background noise

Low TDH

Re-changeable 6H2,6H2n tube

Active RIAA equalization

Three metal cover

Great sound performance

Four acrylic cover

REASONS TO AVOID

Only for MM cartridge

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.

Parasound Zphono Phono Preamplifier (Image credit: Amazon)

Parasound Zphono Phono Preamplifier

Best high end phono preamps

SPECIFICATIONS

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

REASONS TO BUY

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

REASONS TO AVOID

Limited gain range

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.

Charles Lyell
Hi, I'm Charles Lyell. As a gamer, I have lots of knowledge about gaming, computer hardware, software, and the latest devices. Also, my favorite hobby is learning programming and new languages. I am founder of Techikaya website. Here I love to review the latest products and write blogs about the newest tech information. I am from California, Los Angeles, US, and study BSCS at California Institute of Technology.
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