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Pyle Pro PP444 Phono Preamp Reviewed

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pyle Pro PP444 phono preamplifier. It is on kind loan from a local member. The PP444 costs US $12.99 from Amazon with free shipping. No, you didn't misread it. It is actually just $13 including free shipping.

If you are not familiar with Pyle brand, it is the name that goes on cheapest of cheap audio products. I associate it with junk and to-avoid but let's find out if the PP444 is an exception.

From the outside, the PP444 looks like other bargain audio products:

Pyle Pro P444 Phono Amp Audio Review.jpg
The box is solid enough given the price range.

One look at the external switching power supply though tells you corners were cut. There is no regulatory/safety marks on it whatsoever. Worse yet, as I tried to unplug it once, one side actually caved in. So they even skimped on glue to mate the two halves. As the line in Adams Family goes: "be afraid, be very afraid" when using this power supply. Your life could literally be in danger.

Let's put the thing on the bench and see what comes out.

Phono Stage Audio Measurements
Here is our usual dashboard with 5 millivolt input to simulate a moving coil input:

Pyle Pro P444 Phono Amp Audio Measurements.png


SINAD (signal over noise and distortion) is completely dominated by mains hum at 60 Hz. Now, this is common and usually I can remedy it some by playing with grounding. But here, that peak would not move a millimeter no matter what I did. So I ditched the power supply that it came with and powered it with my lab supply:

Pyle Pro P444 Phono Amp Lab Power Supply Audio Measurements.png


Look at the radical reduction in mains hum and the rest of the noise spikes that were there. SINAD as a result improves a bunch to 65 dB.

Is it good enough now? Not really. See the frequency response:

Pyle Pro P444 Phono Amp Lab Power Supply Frequency Response Audio Measurements.png


The response starts to drop from 2 kHz on down. By 20 Hz, you are have lost 3.5 dB.

Thinking something may be wrong with my setup, I replaced the PP444 with DJ Pre and got the sane response in dashed teal. So the PP444 is that messed up. If you use it, don't be surprised that your bass is gone or alternatively it sounds bright.

As a last test before I could not handle it anymore, I ran a distortion+noise versus frequency measurement:

Pyle Pro P444 Phono Amp Distortion and Noise versus Frequency Audio Measurements.png


As you see, even with my lab supply we are talking pretty elevated levels of distortion and noise.

Conclusions
Do I need to spell it out? You paid very little but in return potentially put your life at risk with a non-certified switching power supply and copious amount of mains hum and noise. Maybe the LP grove noise and pops/clicks mask it. I don't know. What I do know is that I would stay far, far a way from this phono amplifier. You can pick up proper phono stages for the price of a dinner or two.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

FOLKS: if I die of depression due to all these poorly performing audio products, it will be on your hands! Don't let me sink too low by cheering me up with donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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StevenEleven

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Thank you for this. I tend to like electronics that do not necessarily measure great but are inexpensive and still transparent under normal listening conditions. So this review is more useful to a minimalist like me than the reviews of the more esoteric or SOTA gear. Obviously though this is not a viable product. It seems they try and make themselves look like Behringer (who can be hit and miss but sometimes a really big hit), but if this product is any indication it appears that Pyle may simply not be a credible manufacturer, apparently not even for the purpose of safety. Very useful information.
 
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daftcombo

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pyle Pro P444 phono preamplifier. It is on kind loan from a local member. The P444 costs US $12.99 from Amazon with free shipping. No, you didn't misread it. It is actually just $13 including free shipping.

If you are not familiar with Pyle brand, it is the name that goes on cheapest of cheap audio products. I associate it with junk and to-avoid but let's find out if the P444 is an exception.

From the outside, the P444 looks like other bargain audio products:

The box is solid enough given the price range.

One look at the external switching power supply though tells you corners were cut. There is no regulatory/safety marks on it whatsoever. Worse yet, as I tried to unplug it once, one side actually caved in. So they even skimped on glue to mate the two halves. As the line in Adams Family goes: "be afraid, be very afraid" when using this power supply. Your life could literally be in danger.

Let's put the thing on the bench and see what comes out.

Phono Stage Audio Measurements
Here is our usual dashboard with 5 millivolt input to simulate a moving coil input:

View attachment 35988

SINAD (signal over noise and distortion) is completely dominated by mains hum at 60 Hz. Now, this is common and usually I can remedy it some by playing with grounding. But here, that peak would not move a millimeter no matter what I did. So I ditched the power supply that it came with and powered it with my lab supply:

View attachment 35989

Look at the radical reduction in mains hum and the rest of the noise spikes that were there. SINAD as a result improves a bunch to 65 dB.

Is it good enough now? Not really. See the frequency response:

View attachment 35990

The response starts to drop from 2 kHz on down. By 20 Hz, you are have lost 3.5 dB.

Thinking something may be wrong with my setup, I replaced the P444 with DJ Pre and got the sane response in dashed teal. So the P444 is that messed up. If you use it, don't be surprised that your bass is gone or alternatively it sounds bright.

As a last test before I could not handle it anymore, I ran a distortion+noise versus frequency measurement:

View attachment 35991

As you see, even with my lab supply we are talking pretty elevated levels of distortion and noise.

Conclusions
Do I need to spell it out? You paid very little but in return potentially put your life at risk with a non-certified switching power supply and copious amount of mains hum and noise. Maybe the LP grove noise and pops/clicks mask it. I don't know. What I do know is that I would stay far, far a way from this phono amplifier. You can pick up proper phono stages for the price of a dinner or two.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

FOLKS: if I die of depression due to all these poorly performing audio products, it will be on your hands! Don't let me sink too low by cheering me up with donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Hi
Is it 444 or 999 (title)?
 

RayDunzl

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Behringer PP400 ($25 or so) via Focusrite Clarett 4Pre in a dirty environment.

USB signal to Clarett Output 3 to PP400 Input to PP400 Output to Clarett Input 8.

With cheap 1/4" TR to RCA cables, sitting on the rack, near the plasma TV, no ground lead connected (helped when using it to play an LP), etc.

I have no idea what the input voltage level is, but I'd assume it to be rather high.

Any higher on the REW generator and harmonics pop up bigly. Another 0.1dB will do it. Don't know if it is the Clarett or the PP400 causing that. Both channels looked the same on the tone test, 0.1dB difference between channels for the onset of clipping, again, could be the Clarett (different channels) or the PP400.

Using 953Hz tone to avoid the USB spikes in the calculation.


1571135165476.png


1571135203787.png

Sweep at -30dBfs on the generator, Frequency Response and Phase. Shows the effect of the RIAA curve.

1571135992551.png

Distortion - harmonics all below the noise floor

1571136092120.png

Impulse and Step - for grins

1571136213448.png

Teardown: https://dismantle-it.blogspot.com/2012/07/behringer-microphono-pp400-phono-preamp.html

---

Oh yeah, we listened to some LPs a few weeks ago, and it seemed to produce a reasonable amount of output and reasonable quality of sound. Had to connect the ground lug to something, used an alligator jumper to the Earth of an extension cord.

Maybe @amirm will try out his PP400 someday.
 
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sergeauckland

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I've bought this sort of thing before, just to use the case, as I couldn't buy a box like that for $13. The power supplies that come with these are really poor, and I throw them away so I won't inadvertently use them months later.

On the other hand, I've bought a Little Bear Moving Coil step up for about the same price, which was fine.
Well, fine once I'd corrected the faults on the PCB - it didn't work at all when I got it - but once repaired it works quite adequately with an Ortofon MC15S.

If one approaches these products on the basis that if it works it's a bonus, but they may need some work, then fine. I do think, however, that some things are just too cheap, and at that price they can't do any quality control whatsoever, even in China.

S.
 

MediumRare

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I understand this is an extreme case, but it shows how poor power supply is clearly visible in the output.

@amirm , could you do a post on how a few other products may test differently using 1. Wall-outlet power versus your lab supply and 2. Different power cords. That would answer the age-old questions in another area of audiophile voodoo.

Otherwise, could you/our panel experts pls direct me to other previously done studies on this?
 

RayDunzl

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splattened

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Assuming these all measure similarly (who knows at this level of price and QA?) it would be ironic to see that AP and/or surrounding personalities simultaneously a) endorse the idea that insanely expensive power cables make a difference and b) can’t hear that this device swings off a proper frequency response by multiple dB, nearly -2 dB by 200 Hz. It would seem one of those would be easier to hear than the other.

Their review seemed to think the highs were tamed though, which is the opposite of what we would expect based on these measurements, so who knows.
 

Killingbeans

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I understand this is an extreme case, but it shows how poor power supply is clearly visible in the output.

Only if the product has no filtering and/or no/bad linear post regulation. Many modern low noise linear voltage regulators have been designed to have excellent PSRR at the switching frequencies of a typical switch mode power supply. A well designed circuit will have no problem squelching the horrible noise from a crummy SMPS.

The part about it being likely to kill you is way more important than any noise it will inject into the audio path.

Otherwise, could you/our panel experts pls direct me to other previously done studies on this?

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...o-you-need-linear-power-supply-for-dacs.7021/
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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P or PP? Or is it listed as one on the case and another on the box, supplier listing or something?
Looks like PP444 is the right name. Corrected in the text.
 
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amirm

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Sweep at -30dBfs on the generator, Frequency Response and Phase. Shows the effect of the RIAA curve.

Just to be clear, I run my sweeps with a signal that has "reverse RIAA EQ" applied to it much like when an LP is mastered. In that regard, in my measurements an ideal equalization would show a flat line. Ray's measurement is not using this pre-EQ so harder to interpret if the output is flat post EQ or not.
 

Tks

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I was about to start off the Fall season just right, some nice warm sound signature out of this with a pumpkin spice latte to get cozy at home with.

Then I saw the bass get obliterated out of existence.

Though there is one great discovery for audiophiles here. If you have preference for certain distortion artifacts, just buy this device, toss it in the bin, and use it's wonderful powersupply. You'll get all those distortions you love and then some! Now I know modern devices can filter some of this nonsense how, but dont underestimate the power of non-regulartion stamped power supplies like this gem!

=========================================================================

In all seriousness folks, did anyone notice how a change of power supply basically improved the THD + N metrics by 5x or more.. lol

Even more funny was Ray's post (#15) now that I think about it.. what a review eh?
 
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