There is no short answer to your question. It all depends -- mostly on the output of the cartridge. Normally, you need about 45-65dB for MC cartridges output ranging from 0.25-0.5mV. My 0.2mV Koetsu requires at least 65dB thus I had to sell the Audio Research PH3 (48dB) and get the Reference Phono which uses a step up transformer. Line section requires no gain but most active pre-amp has about 6-20dB gain built in. Some preamps have input attentuators to for fine adjustment between different sources.
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