How to match a Cartridge with the right phono preamp?

Hi there!

I have been trying to get some information about how to select the right phono preamp for a certain MC cartridge. I'm having a hard time trying to reference all the cartridge specs with the right phono preamp, I even try to watch a couple videos on how to match them but honestly I can't fully understand it lol. It's there an easy way to do it? What exactly I need to look for? I have an Ortofon Bronze with a Puffin preamp. I'm putting together a second vinyl record stereo system and I really want to give it a shot to MC cartridge! 


Thank you I'm advance! 




There are good phono stages that are very flexible, the Gold Note PH-10 comes to mind, will mate with just about any cartridge. But I’ve heard better sounding units but for the $$$ you can’t go wrong with the GN. What’s your budget?

It is easy to underestimate the value of a phono stage. I started with a highly rated $200 Phonostage and was so disappointed… at twice that, and twice that, and twice that… etc, you want a really good phonostage. If you choose carefully I would look in the range of your preamp… or TT with cartridge… a used Phonostage from Audio Research, or VAC, Conrad Johnson, or Presto. Never hold back on a Phonostage.

@rsf507 thank you for your response, I was looking at that brand/model that you posted. Unfortunately that preamp is out of my budget. I was reading about the new Schiit Mani 2, which apparently it works well with MC cartridges, I had a Mani 1 with my Ortofon Bronze (MM) and I really enjoyed.

@ghdprentice ​​​​​​ thank you for your time, as it right now I have a Technics MK2 (soon to be upgraded), nagaoka MP-150 cartridge, fluance signature bookshelf speakers. And the cartridge MC that I was thinking to buy is an Ortofon MC20 Miki. 

I decided, future cartridge(s) unknown, to go for some flexibility.

Make sure it has PASS for MM to skip the internal transformer and go straight to your MM Phono Input.

I chose a vintage Fidelity Research FRT-4 SUT, which has PASS and 4 selectable gain/impedance choices.

Also the additional advantage of 3 tonearm inputs, front selectable, you don’t need to change any cables if you have 2 or 3 arms.

This one looks in very good shape and someone changed the RCA Jacks to better quality than factory ones


the way things have been going, that’s a good price.

@erivera1990 I assume that you have the Ortofon Cadenza Bronze, which is a 0.4mV output cartridge, as the Ortofon 2M Bronze is a MM cartridge. With your Puffin, I would try anything from 58-63dB in gain to see which adds the most dynamics without sounding like it’s overloading. Then, adjust the load to 200ohms listen, and compare to the 47kOhms and see which you like better. Start off with the EQ all all other settings disabled and flat and go from there. IME, I like my MC cartridges to be around 150-275 ohms, so the 200 might be too low, and the 47K may be too high. Your dissatisfaction may just be due to the limitations of your Puffin.

I find this calculator to be helpful in getting me to the right territory of settings, but I always experiment after to see which ones truly sound the best:

@blisshifi My bad I didn't specify, it's an Ortofon 2m bronze with a Puffin phono preamp. Thank you for your advice tho! I will check with kabusa. 

@elliottbnewcombjr Thank you for your advice, I'm probably going to save a little bit more money so I can buy something better, I have a rogue tube amplifier and I love it!

Before the component decided to roast itself to death, I truly enjoyed the phono stage of my Mytek BB. Luckily, I still had my old Moon Phono Stage in the closet. Yes, the Moon doesn't give me quite as much three dimensionality, but its sound is highly pleasurable.

@edcyn Do you have the Moon 110lp? How you like it? I was looking all the specs and it has more options that Schiit Mani 2 and a better price compared with high end phono preamps.

All you need to do is check the requirements of your cart for gain, impedance and capacitance and check the phono amp can match these or something close.  That's the easy bit.

But all phono amps sound different, sometimes very different, so it would be good to try a few and get one with sound you like.

I think you are asking the wrong question. Good phono preamps offer a wide selection of resistance and capacitive impedance matching to meet the needs of various MM, low output MCs and high output MCs. Will the phono amplify the type of cart you want? Thats the first thing you need. A unit with easily variable impedance parameters makes listening way easier also, since the cartridge manufacturer's suggestions may not sound the best on your system.. Next is what "sound" do you like? Tubey-neutral, tubey-bloomy, solid state neutral etc. Next whats your budget? There is no substitute for listening in the rest of your system.

Lastly, you don't get to try out cartridges. You are going to pick one then try and find a phono preamp that when adequately is matched to the cart sounds decent to your ears. At a budget level I like the Vincent PHO line and the Pro-Ject Tube boxes but you can spend way less and way more. Good luck but only your ears can tell you whats a good match.

@oltexan thank you for your reply, you're right and my budget it's too too much, right now I'm debating between schiit Mani 2, lehmmann audio black cube, or Moon 110lp V2. As it right now I'm just comparing specs to see which one is more convenient for me.

@oltexan that's what I'm going to do, I'm just waiting for a fair price to show up and buy one lol.


I found that an external Phono Pre-Amp that was adjustable and my turntable that had a bypass switch on its internal Pre-Amp allowing me to get an MM cart and stylus set on a 1/2" tonearm head was a great way to go.  The Project box Pre-Amp has like 7 or 8 settings.  Just a couple hundred dollars and wow, the biggest bang for the buck of my system.  However, now I need those top-grade LP's.  If you like Miles Davis, you're in good shape.  But, my specific choice of products is not my point, but the idea of getting a whole tone arm head and an adjustable outboard Pre-Amp is.