Do I need a pre-amp?


Major noob here. Researching my first turntable purchase. One potential problem is my existing receiver, Marantz SR4001. Not sure if this home-theater receiver is immediately compatible or whether I will need an additional phono pre-amp? Here is spec book: http://newmedia.engl.iastate.edu/tutorials/DFU_SR4001_SR5001_Final_eng.pdf

Looks like there is a pre-amp OUT but I don't see any phono IN. Maybe that doesn't matter, but I'm not sure bc I don't know very much about this stuff. If I need a pre-amp, how much should I expect to spend to be on par w my entry-level B&W floor-standing speakers? I also have a B&W sub that I would like to keep thumping and will changing my setup require altering that config?

Also, this is the turntable I'm considering: https://app.audiogon.com/listings/turntables-conrad-johnson-sonographe-sg-3-with-alphason-opal-sumiko-andante-turntable-tonear-2015-10-12-analog-02461-newton-highlands-ma Is this a good starter table and on par w my setup?

Thanks in advance for helping me learn and sorry for the scattered questions. I've heard great things about this forum.
lionsdwarf
From what I see you will need at least an external phono stage for this receiver, which you could run into one of the analog inputs. You cannot just run the turntable into the unit, it needs to have the RIAA equalization of a phono stage. No need to go overboard on your phono stage, there are a lot of inexpensive units out there that members can recommend (I got my son a Creek unit to use with his A/V receiver) that will do the job for you.

The Sonograph is an older table (in its day it was a good starter table) but I think, as long as it's in good working condition, it will work just fine for your purposes at this point.
Rcprince is correct. You need a phono preamp and your Marantz doesn't have one. Since you're new, I would just buy all 3 as a package from a dealer that's good with TT's.
I think, you are looking in the right direction when you say that your analog set-up should not be weaker than your speakers. At least. Turntable isolation/resonance control is very important, even more so since you are using a subwoofer.
You might also consider older direct drive Technics with, say, Grado Gold cartridge. Just a thought. You can probably get for $100-$150 acceptable used phono pre-amplifier for Moving Magnet cartridge.
And you will want reasonably clean records and stylus, or all this will be for nothing.
Lion

Not mentioned is you need a preamp for a moving magnet cartridge, not moving coil (you will run into both when looking for phono preamps). If you buy the setup in your link.

Moving magnet cartridges (the device that plays the record, mounted in the end of the tonearm) generally put out higher voltages (nominally 3-5 milli-volts or .003-.005 volts at 1 KHz) and are therefore able to use phono preamps that are a bit cheaper.

Moving coil cartridges generally put out a lot lower voltage (a factor of 0.1 or 10% of the MM) and therefore need a much lower noise (ergo more expensive) phono preamp.

Some phono preamps can handle both MM and MC cartridges.

Moving magnet cartridges are sensitive to cable capacitance so you should be aware of this when you buy a phono preamp, as its input capacitance adds to the cable capacitance (of the cables from the cartridge through the tonearm to the phono preamp) to "load" the cartridge. The cartridge manufacturer will specify the recommended load capacitance. If you are too far from recommended ranges, the sound may be affected.

Now, aren't you glad you are getting into vinyl?
I have owned a SG-3 since 1983. It was a great starter turntable then and if in good condition still today. As stated above, you will need a phonostage. I would stick to the moving magnet type cartridge as there are greater choices in carts and stages within your budget. Good luck in your search.
I really appreciate everyone's valuable advice to help me get into the vinyl game. I am very excited for some rich, analog tuneage.

Would people recommend NAD for a phono stage? Recommendations on good lower-end units here would be much appreciated. My plan is to stick to a moving magnet cartridge.

Also, since it's often hard to tell the condition of a used turntable via the interwebs, would you say it's generally safer to stick to a modern edition, like a Rega vs the older Sonographe? I realize it's hard to make such a generalization but just curious on your thoughts.
I'm having trouble imagining a guy who uses an AVR and wants the bother of vinyl. A good digital source would seem more fitting.

db
Receiver or not, if the man wants analog that's exactly what he wants.
"11-10-15: Dbphd
I'm having trouble imagining a guy who uses an AVR and wants the bother of vinyl. A good digital source would seem more fitting."

We all have to start somewhere. Maybe in the future, he'll upgrade his other components in a way that suits you.
Vintage or modern? It's a matter of taste, but you should have some knowledge of vintage turntables to choose right. I myself do not have it, so I would get a modern one, probably Pro-Ject. Another point is do you want belt drive or direct drive turntable? Check out needledoctor.com to see what they have, they are usually quite helpful and might give you a sound advice, unless of course your mind is set on getting vintage table.
There is a number of inexpensive phono stages, I am not sure how much different they are. In any case, your phono stage should be at least a little better than your cartridge and certainly not worse.
Being the owner of the SG-3, I have always wondered how it would compare to the newer budget tables. In 1983 the SG-3 sold for $400. It has mounted a Sumiko MMT arm which sold for $250 making total cost $650 in 1983 dollars. I have not taken the time to make a comparison however. I believe the SG-3 with MMT arm might sell for ~$450 today.

The key to getting the best sound/$$$ is matching cartridge to phono stage. Check out Music Direct and Audio Advisor for recommendations. I suggest you purchase a new cartridge and possibly a used stage.
Inna, my impression from OP's post was that he might not have the knowledge base to make an informed decision about vinyl, nor with his equipment might he be able to appreciate the distinction (whatever that might be) in sound between an analog and digital source. There are plenty of folks on the web who smoke on about the magic of vinyl. If I were OP, I'd spend my money on upgrading the components I have rather than entering another realm. Yes, I own a Thorens TD 124 with SME Series III arm, but more as an icon than a source -- it's both a visual and auditory delight.

db
"Inna, my impression from OP's post was that he might not have the knowledge base to make an informed decision about vinyl, nor with his equipment might he be able to appreciate the distinction (whatever that might be) in sound between an analog and digital source. "

I'm willing to bet that's why the OP started this thread in the first place. He's asking for help because he doesn't know everything.
Zd542, my comments have been aimed at OP's motivation for vinyl, given the other components he's using. If my house had a leaky roof, I'd be unlikely to be shopping for a gazebo. In the age of very fine digital sound, vinyl seems an audiophile indulgence. Fun, perhaps, but not a necessary complication for the enjoyment of music. Maybe it's just a sense of priorities. For me, speakers I like would come first, followed closely by a suitable amp to drive them and a reliable source. Only after the basics are in place might I shift my attention to frills. Now if I got caught up in the drift of smoke coming in my direction . . .

db
I agree with Inna regarding buying a modern TT. Also the suggestion to check out needledoctor, I forgot them in my last post. The Project Debut II seems to be a popular budget choice (~$400). You never mentioned your budget for TT and stage.
"11-12-15: Dbphd
Zd542, my comments have been aimed at OP's motivation for vinyl, given the other components he's using."

I suspect the OP won't be the first person to use a TT with a receiver. Maybe not even the last. As for the rest of it, its good to know how you do things. Its like a carefully plotted course that we should all follow.
On websites like Needle Doctor, when you choose a budget TT which includes tonearm aND cart, you have access to suitable phonostages.
"As for the rest of it, its good to know how you do things. Its like a carefully plotted course that we should all follow."

Zd542, Why the snarky sarcasm? My point was simply why would OP allocate money to a frill like a TT when he appears less than satisfied his more basic audio components. And before you or Inna give me a lecture on a man's right to spend his money as he sees fit, I agree with you.

db
Take a look at the phono preamps on Needle Doctor. As far as NAD, it seems decent, but don't choose a phonostage until you have a TT and a cartridge selected. They need to match.

For a TT, look at the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC, a good entry level into vinyl. You can read abut it in the archives.
"Zd542, Why the snarky sarcasm? My point was simply why would OP allocate money to a frill like a TT when he appears less than satisfied his more basic audio components."

Since when is a TT a frill component? People on this web site sell cables that cost thousands of dollars to upgrade to new cables that cost even more thousands of dollars. Very few people call frill on that. Also, the OP doesn’t say he's unhappy, he wants to upgrade his system.

It doesn't cost a lot to get a good sounding TT. It also doesn't cost a lot to go on ebay and get large collections of records, in very good shape, for not much either. Maybe the OP wants to build his collection. Its not like you can go to a store and buy a CD any more.
Hey gang. Thanks for all the feedback. Little surprised to have to offer this justification here, haha, but in order of importance, here are my main motivations for the move to vinyl:

1) The sound - I favor analog's fullness to digital's cleanliness. I realize an analog amp is ideal, but due to financial considerations, it doesn't really make sense for me to make that jump today, probably. As zd542 wisely said, you have to start somewhere. 

2) The tactile experience of playing a record - It's different. You put the needle down and let it rip. There's no poking around and selecting favorite tracks. Listeners tend to hear a whole album as made by the artist 

3) The catalogue - Lots of old vinyl music isn't readily available in other formats

That said, I also love digital and have no intention of abandoning it. But with the opportunity for both digital and analog listening, this seems like a rare instance where one can have his cake and eat it too. No?

I think I'll follow the suggestions for a modern tt, considering I don't really know what I'm doing. I would love to be in the $300-400 range, but if I could snag a used tt below that, it would help free up some cash and could help motivate me to buy an analog amp. Speaking of which....

If I were to abandon my Marantz and pick up a solid analog amp, about how much would I need to spend, minimally? My setup is a pair of B&W 600 series floor-standing speakers + a separate B&W subwoofer. The speakers only contain a single woofer each so the separate sub is necessary, for my sound preferences. They are connected to the Marantz w some really fat bi-wire cables and the sound is excellent. At max vol, the Marantz isn't powerful enough to distort the B&Ws. I'm really happy with it but can only imagine if these speakers were connected to a solid analog source. 

So here's where I am today:

I can buy a tt + phono preamp for $5-600 +/-. Right? However when the time comes to buy an analog amp, I'll presumably eliminate the phono stage, which won't have much resale value, right? So maybe I should just splurge for the amp today. But what would I need to spend in order to match my setup? Also, is there a configuration that will allow me to keep the Marantz for my digital sources and switch to the analog amp for my tt? Also, what kind of analog amp will accommodate my subwoofer?

Thanks for helping the n00b!

Hey gang. Thanks for all the feedback. In order of importance, here are my main motivations for the move to vinyl:

1) The sound - I favor analog's fullness to digital's cleanliness. I realize an analog amp is ideal, but due to financial considerations, it doesn't really make sense for me to make that jump today, probably. As zd542 wisely said, you have to start somewhere.

2) The tactile experience of playing a record - It's different. You put the needle down and let it rip. There's no poking around and selecting favorite tracks. Listeners tend to hear a whole album as made by the artist

3) The catalogue - Lots of old vinyl music isn't readily available in other formats

That said, I also love digital and have no intention of abandoning it. But with the opportunity for both digital and analog listening, this seems like a rare instance where one can have his cake and eat it too. No?

I think I'll follow the suggestions for a modern tt, considering I don't really know what I'm doing. I would love to be in the $300-400 range, but if I could snag a used tt below that, it would help free up some cash and could help motivate me to buy an analog amp. Speaking of which....

If I were to abandon my Marantz and pick up a solid analog amp, about how much would I need to spend, minimally? My setup is a pair of B&W 600 series floor-standing speakers + a separate B&W subwoofer. The speakers only contain a single woofer each so the separate sub is necessary, for my sound preferences. They are connected to the Marantz w some really fat bi-wire cables and the sound is excellent. At max vol, the Marantz isn't powerful enough to distort the B&Ws. I'm really happy with it but can only imagine if these speakers were connected to a solid analog source.

So here's where I am today:

I can buy a tt + phono preamp for $5-600 +/-. Right? However when the time comes to buy an analog amp, I'll presumably eliminate the phono stage, which won't have much resale value, right? So maybe I should just splurge for the amp today. But what would I need to spend in order to match my setup? Also, is there a configuration that will allow me to keep the Marantz for my digital sources and switch to the analog amp for my tt? Also, what kind of analog amp will accommodate my subwoofer?

Thanks for helping the n00b!
After reading OP's 11/13/15 post, I rest my case. He's very confused about audio, but has a romantic notion about vinyl.

db
Lionsdwarf,
Hold on...one thing at a time. Stay with your original plan and add a vinyl setup to your Marantz.
What you're proposing is possible but it will get complicated and you really don't need the amp yet.

FYI, as far as the phono preamp goes, sometimes an integrated amp's internal phonostage is of a lesser quality than an external preamp. So get something decent, it doesn't have to be big bucks to have good sound.

I'll repeat myself, if you want plug and play, then look at budget tables and phono preamps at Needle Doctor. Sometimes there are package deals; e.g., a Pro-Ject TT, cart, and preamp.

To answer an earlier question, the NAD PP 2e Phono Preamp is a nice piece and it has a separate power supply (which means less noise), but you need to choose the TT and cart first.
Lionsdwarf, I agree with Lowrider57. Purchase the TT and phonostage as an addition to your current system. Should you later decide to upgrade your amplification you can purchase a line level (no phonostage) integrated amplifier at that time. A separate phonostage is usually better than those included in a budget integrated.
OK, I thought I would put myself in your shoes and shop Needledoctor. The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC turntable sells for $399 with Ortofon 2M red cartridge.

The 2M Red cartridge has a recommended loads of 47K resistance and 150-300 pF capacitance. Very common load for budget MM cartridges. It has relatively high gain at 5.5mV meaning it would drive most budget stages.

The Cambridge Audio Azure 551P phonostage sells for $129. And would be quite compatible with the 2M Red having 39dB gain, and load of 47K and 220 pF. It is MM only.

The NAD PP2 is not sold by Needledoctor, however can be had for $169 elsewhere. Have yet to check out the specs on this model however believe it would also be compatible with the 2M Red. I would confirm this prior to purchase. It is MM and MC.

I think you would be quite happy with the Pro-Ject/Ortofon/Cambridge combination at $530 total. It would be a nice addition to and quite compatible with, your current system.

Again, good luck in your quest.
The NAD PP2e loads similar to the Cambridge 551P however has somewhat less gain at 35dB. The gain differential represents no problem for the Ortofon 2M Red.

I can’t speak to the sonic differences between these NAD and Cambridge phonostages.

I'm in agreement with Lowrider and Mesch on sticking with the receiver you have and getting a good phono stage. One other possible phono stage might be the Schiit Audio Mani ($129), which is available direct from the manufacturer but I believe has a 15-day return policy if you don't like it (less a 15% restocking fee), and one other possible TT would be the Rega RP1.
Hey, I just wanted to re-express all my appreciation for everyone's feedback on here. Even yours @dbphd ;) 

As suggested, @mesch, I went with the Project debut carbon dc + orotofon red + Cambridge Audio Azure and it sounds totally phat! Even running it all through the Marantz digi there's a major audio upgrade with this config. So happy to have made the jump, now just beefing up my collection to keep the tunes jamming!