Welcome to the madness, and look for a well cared for NAD receiver or integrated with phono inputs (avoid the T-series, however, as they have reliability issues). I would get one right here on AG, not the Bay. These amps sound GREAT, are well-made, and will drive your speakers effortlessly. They range from 20-150 watts, btw, and even the little 20-watters kick but.
Hi Justin- You stated that your receiver does not have a phono input and that your pre-amp must be turned up to nearly full volume. We still need to know more information to helop you. How are you connecting the pre-amp output to your receiver, does your pre-amp have a phono input, and if so, is it identified as MM or MC. Finally, what kind of cartridge is in your turntable? If you don't know the answers, tell us what the make and models are and we can probably figure it out.
Right now there are several possible problems.
1. Your pre-amp may also lack a phono input. The output from a phono cartridge is much lower than the output from a CD, DVD, video game player (which can go to any non-phono input on a pre, integrated, or receiver). The phono cart output needs additional amplification and must also be equalized (tonally adjusted) to compensate for physical limitations of the LP medium. If this is the problem, you either need a stand alone phono stage or an integrated or receiver that has a phono stage built in. Pretty hard to find a current receiver that has one these days. Some integrated amps do; and some pre-amps do.
2. If your pre-amp has a phono stage, it may not have enough gain for the cartridge. Some cartridges (mostly moving coil types) have outputs in the 0.02- 1 millivolt range, which is not enough to drive a typical phono stage and require a step up device of some kind. More "conventional" cartridges as called moving magnet (MM) and have an output typically in the 2-5 mv range, and can drive a typical (or MM) phono stage adequately w/o a step-up.
If either your pre-amp lacks a phono stage or your cart is a lower output MC design and your pre-amps phono stage is designed (or switched) for an MM design, you will get very low volume. If #1 is true, you will also get a signal that requires tonal adjustment.
I assume that you are taking the output of your pre-amp and feeding it into one of the inputs of your receiver. If so, once you get a proper phono stage, you would want to feed that into the pre-amp in input on your receiver, if it has one. If not, then you would need either a separate power amp, or a different receiver w a pre-amp level input.
You need a phono input, not a line input; follow Swampwalker's advice. An NAD integrated with phono stage would also be my choice, they stand the test of time. Be aware that NAD integrateds are often sold w/o a phono stage, but can be added on.
Also tell us what TT and cartridge you're using.
Reliable NAD seller, but no phono stage...
Follow Swampwalkers advice plus this: if your preamp has a tape out, use that instead of the pre out. The tape out is not affected by the volume control and will pass the phono signal through in the cleanest manner.
I would look for an NAD, Marantz PM6004 (New $399) or if phono is really important to you, prehaps a Rega Brio 3. (No headphone jack on the Rega though.) I'm using a little NAD 302 Int. amp which is a VERY nice sounding and has plenty of juice at "only" 20w per ch. My NAD 302 has a warmer sound than my vintage Sansui AU-D33. Honestly, I've owned Marantz in the past and if I was buying new, I'd get the Marantz 6004 for $399 New. (While supplies last. would not delay for long though.) Music Hall 15.3 would be another possibilty. (I've seen $420 demo on AudiogoN) LOTS of choices. Good Luck! Bill
In a similar boat to OP. Just got a Pro-ject Debut Carbon for Christmas but am buying the speakers and amp for myself. I nabbed some Klipsch RB-81s off eBay so all that's left is the amp. I've read that the Rega Fono Mini was pretty much the best budget phono stage for MM cartridges and was planning on getting it + an amp w/o a phono stage. How would the Marantz 6004 compare to the Rega Fono Mini + ~$300 amp?
The NAD and Marantz recommendations are good ones but if you'd prefer to buy new and want to stick to your $300 budget a good bet might be the Onkyo-A-5VL
It's a competent amp, MSRP on it is $699, but they have them factory refurbished for $299. I don't know about the quality of the MM/MC photo stage in it but one of the big advantages of the amp is the built-in Burr Brown DAC. That opens up the world of streaming music or computer based audio.
I think you might really like this Onkyo Integrated
. I owned the previous model while I was waiting for a $4000 tube amp to be delivered and it sounded amazingly good for the price. Plus, it has tone controls, which are a good idea, IMO. Welcome and best of luck.
The Onkyo integrated that Chayro proposed looks to be a very fine unit indeed! For $399 brand new, that's the way I would go...
+1 on the Music Hall. It's a great little performer with a good feature set. If something goes wrong, you can get Roy Hall on email for help (it's happened to me with a headphone amp of theirs).
Otherwise, keep an eye out for used gear in the price range and looks for reviews on them as they come up.
Jharris89 just go to your local Hi Fi store and you'll see 2 channel receivers for the price you mentioned from Denon, Onkyo, Yamaha, Sony and Harmon Kardon.
Pick up a NAD integrated amp or receiver with MM and MC phono inputs either here or on ebay. That should get you squared away pretty well.
What model phono cartridge is being used? IS it MM, MC or something else?
Phono level issues might be related to cartridge type, especially if using a lower output Moving Coil (MC) type cartridge. You need a phone pre-amp designed for a MC cart in order to get the proper gain out of the box if the cart is MC. MM (Moving magnet)type carts are typically higher level output than MC but still require a special phono pre-amp in order to get proper gain.
Outlaw Audio RR2150 is amazing. It has everything - am/fm, mm/mc phono, analog sub management, great dac. Go for one! There's one for sale now on Agon!
Sorry for my late response and thanks for all your help! I wasn't expecting all these responses so quickly! To answer some of your inquiries:
- My turntable is a Miida T3115 (not sure of the cartridge - just found it in my local vinyl store and it sounded good compared to what I originally had)
- My preamp is a TCC TC750 and it has a MM cartridge
Seems like general consensus is a NAD integrated amplifier will satisfy my needs. Any model recommendations? I run two tower speakers and a subwoofer through my existing set up and would want to keep it the same. Also have my TV and an aux cord for when I plug in my MP3 player to it.
You will need a pre-amp out rca's w/you're int. amp. I know the Nad 326BEE has them but the 316BEE does not. I'm running a small NAD 302 which is rated 20w per ch. and does a fine job w/my bookshelf spks. I'm using a Definitive Tech sub w/this system. On my 302 I internally connected the pre-amp out to pre-amp in w/a cooper wire. This leaves me without having to use jumpers AND I now have a set of pre-amp out jacks to run a set of interconnect cables to my sub. You could also do this w/two sets of y-rca cables. One rca in...two rca out. (I hope I'm not too confusing in my description.) I will say this little 302 is a very nice int. amp. There's also the Nad 312. I owned the big brother of these two, the Nad 314 (35w per ch.) and IMO the 302 sounds better. So, under $150 you're set. And if you decide to go w/an NAD 302/312, most likely you will keep it for a very, very long time. Hope this helps, Bill.
Thanks for your response. Let me know if i'm following this correctly. If there are pre-amp outs on a NAD or any other integrated amp, that's what I should be hooking my subwoofer to? I apologize for my lack of knowledge, but I'm used to receivers that have a "subwoofer" output labeled already.
Does anyone recommend this? I found one locally on CL and it's listed for $180.
Jharris, someone who owns the NAD320BEE integrated amp did a review on it 10 years ago.http://www.audioasylum.com/reviews/Integrated-Amplifier-SS/NAD/320BEE/amp/48695.html
Some int. amps have a dedicated subwoofer rca out. I believe on the Nad 326Bee it's a single out which would connect into your subwoofer. Some subwoofer's like my def. Tech has dual (R/L) rca inputs. So, it's perfect for my 302 which now has an RCA out which can be made via either y cables or splitters or my way. ( I internally connected the pre-amp outs w/the pre-amp ins with cooper wire which I soldered.) Check out this thread on head-fi.org titled " best type rca splitter to use." The monster one looks good and you could use the jumpers which come w/the int. amp. and have an additional set of RCA outs which would go to your sub if it has R/Left inputs. The Nad C320 BEE has pre-amp out to pre-amp ins. You can see the jumpers on the back of the unit. (PLEASE note I called Nad before I did what I did w/my 302 and NAD said it was fine to do. NOW I can't see why it won't be fine to do w/the C320 as well. But you may want to check w/NAD.) Hope this helps. P.S. Oh, another way to do this is by running spk. wires from int. amp to subwoofer and then running back the spk. wires from the sub to your speakers. Lots of wire. The RCA method is simplier and neater. I bought a 10' pair of Mogami RCA interconnects for my needs. $30.
NAD 320BEE, seems well reviewed but found this in a 2006 review...
"While seven inputs seems generous, it excludes one for a turntable."
So you will need a phono stage preamp. Need to consider this when buying a NAD. IMO, still worth it.http://nadelectronics.com/articles/Hi-Fi-Product-of-the-Year
Thanks Lowrider, I did see right away that it did not have a set of phono inputs, but the used/cheap cost seems worth it since I do have a preamp already (if you read through you'll see that my current receiver is just old and junky). I figured for a name like NAD and the power increase from a receiver to int. amp i'd be extremely happy with the $180 spent.
Agree, Jharris89, it's a good deal.
The only concern buying a used amp is the condition of the capacitors, IOW are they leaking or are they dried out. If the seller is local, maybe you can have him take off the top of the unit and see. Otherwise, ask how much use it has had; as long as it wasn't abused, the electronics inside should be fine.