General Question

Spargett's avatar

Do I need a turntable amplifier if I have powered speakers?

Asked by Spargett (5390points) November 12th, 2008

This may seem like an obvious question, but I’m new to “home audio”. After being fed up with MP3’s, I’m about to jump into the world of vinyl. I have a really nice pair of powered studio monitors for home recording.

It seems like as long as the turntables themselves have power, and the speakers they are fed to as have power as well, there’s no need for an addition tube amp.

Correct me if I’m wrong here.

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8 Answers

jasongarrett's avatar

You may need a preamp:

“A turntable preamp or pre-amp is a small electronic circuit that will amplify the very small electrical signal coming out of a cartridge. It brings the cartridge signal up to an electrical level that is equal to the audio output of a CD player, tape deck or DVD player. The symptom that you will experience if you do not have a preamp is that the sound from your player will be about 10% of your other components.

Some modern turntables have a built-in pre-amp. This means you can plug it into any audio input except one that is labeled phono! These turntables are usually not well built, overall. If you have an older player and a receiver or amp that has a phono input then you must use that input. If you have an older player and a modern receiver/amp with no input labeled ‘phono’ or if you are taking your player output directly into a computer sound card, that’s when you must get a separate turntable preamp.”

bodyhead's avatar

Yea, tell us the brand of turntable and speakers you’ve got and we’ll tell you the best way to hook them up.

hen I use to listen to my records at my old apartment, I fed two turntables into a crappy pre-amp and then into my regular stereo system (via audio in on my console amplifier). It didn’t put out banging sound but it was enough for casual listening.

Of course it would be way louder and sound way better with a tube amp.

I’m going to agree with jason here. Here are the real questions you need to ask:
Does my turntable have a preamp?
Can I plug my turntable directly into my studio monitors?

Different studio monitors have different plugs from 1/4” to RCA. It really just depends on exactly what the equipment is.

sndfreQ's avatar

Phono, guitar (from pickup), microphone=low level, ~1/1000 of a volt

CD Player, VHS, Game console, audio mixer=high level, 1/100 – 1/10 of a volt

Speakers (amplified internally or via external power amp)= 1 volt or more

The preamp boosts by a factor of 10x or more to allow phono levels (aka Mic Level) to flow down a signal path…the powered speakers take line level (aka high level) signals at their inputs and boost by a factor of 10x or more from line level.

Keep in mind that is a very simple analogy, whereas actual power for audio signals is a factor of wattage (that is, voltage times current) expressed in Milliwatts and Watts.

Spargett's avatar

Thanks for the feedback. I don’t have a record player as of yet. But I do plan on getting one (hence the n00bish due diligence).

I’ve been looking at vintage tube pre-amps. Such as the Fisher 500c and the Dynaco SCA-35. I’m a bit of an audiophile. Just debating if the the steep vintage gear is worth the investment.

I’m also interested in any turntable recommendations. Any alternative to the $500 Technics at Guitar Center? I’m not scratching, just want something to play my favorite albums on in an analog format.


I have a pair of the Mackie MR8 Studio Monitors.

bodyhead's avatar

Even if you aren’t scratching, the Technic is a great investment. It’s hard to beat them in sound quality and direct drive system that they have in place isn’t conducive to wearing out even with a ton of use. If you’re worried about cost, you could probably get an older model like the SL-1200 MKII.

You’ve got RCA in on the Studio Monitors so that won’t be a problem.

If you want to run it through your studio monitors it’s definitely possible. You’ll need to get a small pre-amp to get everything to work together properly. You could get something pretty cheap like the following. That’ll be a ton less expensive then buying a full amp setup.

I don’t know that I’d start out by buying one of those vintage pre-amps. I would get a cheaper newer one (at least for comparison). If you aren’t happy with the sound then you could look into vintage tubes. You’d also have something cheaper and newer to compare the sound to.

sndfreQ's avatar

Second on the SL 1200 mkIV Ds…they are direct-drive (not belt drive), and are crystal-sync’d for greater tracking and very little wow (fluctuating speed).

Another good site for reading up on preamps is

Spargett's avatar

Thanks for the great advice guys.

nasus's avatar


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