• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

I can't tell a difference between 4 phono preamps

sq225917

Major Contributor
Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
1,201
Likes
1,315
Pffft, Ein.

-86db noise for the paradise, unweighted at 62db gain. If built with rigour and selecting input stage for noise. But it's a real slog.
 

nmarzoli

New Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2022
Messages
1
Likes
0
Hey OP,

Did you find that with the Parasound XRM, enabling the mono switch makes the overall volume louder? I'm not sure if that's normal or not, because I have another pre with a mono switch and it doesn't do this like my XRM does.
 

BobPM

Member
Joined
Dec 20, 2019
Messages
86
Likes
64
Location
Driftwood, Texas
My experience is the same as a previous response that the cartridge makes an order of magnitude difference. I had an AT-440mlb on my SL-12000GR and upgraded from a 15 year old Project phono box to a Darlington Labs MM-6 and did find noticeable improvement. However, when I went from the AT-440mlb to the AT-OC9XML moving coil the improvement was significantly more dramatic. Both cartridges have the microline stylus and track really well, but the clarity and overall balance of the sound was much improved with the mc. Of course, you needed a head-amp or step-up transformer for the Darlington. In short, be sure to get a phono pre that allows you to adjust gain and impedance if you think a low output MC is in your future. The AT-OC9XML is a really good value with its boron cantilever and great tracking stylus for about $550.

I should note that I went back to the old phono box when I first received the cartridge since I did not have a head amp or step-up transformer. The differences using the better phono stage (once I finally obtained a head-amp) was more noticeable using the better cartridge. I will stop here and admit that no blind a-b comparisons were done here, but unlike swapping DACs or cables, the differences in sound were readily apparent with the cartridge swap, and less so with the pre-amp swaps.
 

Digby

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
918
Likes
746
I recorded the same track using my RME interface through three different phono preamps, the Cambridge Duo, Solo and ART DJ pre II. My findings switching between them (not double blind, sorry), was that Duo and Solo essentially sounded identical, the ART DJ seems to have a less focussed bass (this may be the phase issues that Amir found?), but when everything was level matched it wasn't miles away from the two Cambridge units.

I think the Solo (if you don't need MC), is the pick of the bunch. The only problem with these phono stages (Solo/Duo) is they put out a very high signal and with loud 12" 45rpm records will clip inputs, unless using a special lo-gain setting. This setting may not be available on many soundcards. This is only a problem if you seek to digitize and have very loud cut records.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2022
Messages
51
Likes
35
I just ordered the XRM phono pre that I will be comparing to the phono pre in my NAD. I am thinking about getting the JC3 Jr as well and see if it makes any difference.

One thing to consider is the rest of your audio chain. If you have a $1,000 stereo, it may not allow you to hear all the details of a $5,000 stereo with better speakers, and amp. With the higher end stereo, you might be able to hear more of a difference with a better phono pre which might allow you to hear more details.
 

RammisFrammis

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
83
Likes
93
If the capacitance loading of the MM input is different between two phono preamps, that can cause audible changes in the high end response. My preamp has multiple loading options from 50pF to 400pF and they do alter the response visibly and audibly. The resistive loading for MM is always 47k.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2022
Messages
51
Likes
35
Here is a solid article about phono pre's.
RIAA equalization is a form of pre-emphasis on recording and de-emphasis on playback. A recording is made with the low frequencies reduced and the high frequencies boosted, and on playback, the opposite occurs. The net result is a flat frequency response, but with attenuation of high-frequency noise such as hiss and clicks that arise from the recording medium. Reducing the low frequencies also limits the excursions the cutter needs to make when cutting a groove. Cheaper phono pre's of course will not perform as well as better phono pre's with cheaper parts.

 
Joined
Jan 26, 2022
Messages
51
Likes
35
I just ordered the XRM phono pre that I will be comparing to the phono pre in my NAD. I am thinking about getting the JC3 Jr as well and see if it makes any difference.

One thing to consider is the rest of your audio chain. If you have a $1,000 stereo, it may not allow you to hear all the details of a $5,000 stereo with better speakers, and amp. With the higher end stereo, you might be able to hear more of a difference with a better phono pre which might allow you to hear more details.
I was told by Music Direct that I will hear a significant different between the XRM and JC3 Jr. The blacks will be blacker and the detail of the music will be improved. So I ordered the JC3 Jr and will being doing a shootout between the NAD phono pre, the XRM and the JC3 Jr. I will report back here on what I found.

UPDATE: I spoke to Parsound which was a lot more helpful than a sales person at a audio store. Based on my turntable and MM Cartridge which is just a couple hundred dollars, they recommended I stay with the XRM phono preamp which will provide an improvement over the NAD I have. The JC3 Jr will be more helpful if I had a better turntable with a higher end MC cartridge that can pickup more detail. That is when the JC3 Jr will make an improvement.
 
Last edited:

RammisFrammis

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
83
Likes
93
Here is a solid article about phono pre's.
RIAA equalization is a form of pre-emphasis on recording and de-emphasis on playback. A recording is made with the low frequencies reduced and the high frequencies boosted, and on playback, the opposite occurs. The net result is a flat frequency response, but with attenuation of high-frequency noise such as hiss and clicks that arise from the recording medium. Reducing the low frequencies also limits the excursions the cutter needs to make when cutting a groove. Cheaper phono pre's of course will not perform as well as better phono pre's with cheaper parts.

The 'expert' which this articles interviews works for McIntosh. Guess what brand comes out on top of all others? The underlying information may be correct as far as it goes, but biased pieces like this are all-to-pervasive on the internet. Yes, the McIntosh undoubtedly has excellent performance, but you are also paying a lot for the unnecessary packaging bling.

The sweet spot for most people I believe is in the $500 range. I have the ProJect Phonobox RS2 which costs $2000 but I bought it because I needed the balanced inputs/outputs and the front panel adjustments. If somebody doesn't need that then a much less expensive one will do the job.
 

mhardy6647

Master Contributor
Joined
Dec 12, 2019
Messages
6,656
Likes
13,720
Here is a solid article about phono pre's.
RIAA equalization is a form of pre-emphasis on recording and de-emphasis on playback. A recording is made with the low frequencies reduced and the high frequencies boosted, and on playback, the opposite occurs. The net result is a flat frequency response, but with attenuation of high-frequency noise such as hiss and clicks that arise from the recording medium. Reducing the low frequencies also limits the excursions the cutter needs to make when cutting a groove. Cheaper phono pre's of course will not perform as well as better phono pre's with cheaper parts.

There was virtually nothing useful in that article. Did you link to the right one?
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2022
Messages
51
Likes
35
I received the Parasound XRM phono preamp and compared it to my NAD 658. The overall sound was clearer and more up front. At the 40db level it was just a tad louder. I opted to go for the 50 db. for the extra volume. It's clean, quiet, and fits nicely inn my stereo rack. I am a happy camper. Definitely a better amp inside the Parasound.
 

Thomas_A

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 20, 2019
Messages
2,121
Likes
1,488
Location
Sweden
If you are not afraid of kits, Muffsy is a flexible high-end for under $200.

 
Top Bottom