New to turntables - does this gear combo work?

Hi All,

This is my very first post on the forum, but I've been browsing heavily the past week or so once I decided that I wanted to take the leap into vinyl. I can pick up some gear locally for a nice price, and I'm wondering if these things are compatible with one another. I can get a Pro-Ject Debut III turntable, a Pro-Ject "Phono Box" preamp, and a pair of Audioengine A2 powered speakers.

Do those work together? If I understand correctly, I can connect the preamp to the turntable and then the speakers into the preamp without a power amp because they are powered speakers. I realize this may not sound amazing, but I have virgin ears when it comes to vinyl anyway and right now I just want something kinda nice to start with. I know enough to not consider Crosley or low end Audio Technica.

Thanks very much in advance!
Unfortunately, the answer is "maybe". The phono box is designed as what is called a line level device, to feed an input on an integrated amp or line stage pre-amp. The Pro-ject does not have an attenuator or volume control. The 9 volt specified output of the Project is quite a bit higher than a typical line level output of 2-3 volts, so it may be enough to drive the built-in amps of the A-2s. The Audioengine web site does not say what the input sensitivity of their amp is, so you will have to ask their tech support. If 9 v will drive it to full output, then you should be OK. Personally, given the generally non-technical nature of most tech support, I'd make sure that I had full return privileges before I went down that road. Your other alternative to the Project-Box is a full function pre-amp (phono stage plus line stage plus attenuator and input switcher) which will allow you to add a "gasp!!!" CD or tuner or computer line level source to the mix.
Assuming your TT comes with a cart., the system should work with no problems.
Swamp is correct, you should consider a real preamp for best sound not over look this important stage it is the most profound effect on how well the system will sound besides speakers. A good sounding preamp is what your system really needs to bring out the dynamics and soundstage.
If the speakers have a volume control you should be ok!
As the OP happily admits he has virgin ears and isn't (yet!) caught up in the need for ever-better sound, the simple answer to his question would appear to be a mix of Swampwalker's and Yogiboy's posts.

If the Audioengine A2 powered speakers can produce full output from an input of 9v (without being overloaded) AND include an attenuator for volume control, then this gear combo would work.

How it sounds is a question the OP may worry about later, as audiophiles tend to do. But first, we must set the hook by getting him listening to vinyl. There are many paths to the madness of vinyl-philia. Let's not close the door on any of them. ;-)
With great respect for my learned cyber-friends and fellow Nutmeggers Doug and Michael (Swampwalker), whose formidable expertises lie in things other than EE stuff, I would point out that the 9.5 volt maximum output spec on the Phono Box is being misconstrued.

The Phono Box provides specified gains of 40 db for MM (moving magnet) cartridges and 60 db for LOMC (low output moving coil) cartridges. I assume the OP would be using a MM cartridge. 40 db corresponds to a voltage gain of 100x. Under standard test conditions MM's are usually specified as providing outputs in the area of 3 to 5 millivolts (mv) or so. Therefore under those conditions the Phono Box will provide an output of 300 to 500 mv or so. During extremely high volume dynamic peaks on some recordings, that output level will be exceeded by a factor of several times, I believe, meaning perhaps something like 2 or 3 volts or so. The 9.5 volt figure is simply the maximum output voltage the Phono Box is capable of without clipping or severe distortion, but under any reasonable circumstances it will never receive an input voltage that causes it to approach that figure.

As Michael mentioned earlier, the specifications for the Audioengine A2 speakers do not indicate input sensitivity. However, it can be calculated from various numbers in the specifications and in John Atkinson's measurements (26.8 db gain at 1 kHz, 6 ohm average load impedance seen at the output of the speaker's amplifier, 15W specified RMS amplifier power capability) that an input of roughly 433 mv will drive the speaker's amplifier to full power at 1 kHz, with the volume control at max.

JA notes that in part of the deep bass region the amplifier provides an equalization boost of up to 9 db. 9 db is a voltage gain of about 2.8x. So the speaker's amplifier will be driven to full power by an input of roughly around 433/2.8 = 155 mv at those frequencies (where recordings often contain particularly high energy levels), with the volume control at max.

Those numbers all add up to an expectation that pairing the Phono Box and the A2 speakers will result in a reasonable match in terms of gain, sensitivity, and the parts of the range of the volume control that are likely to be used. There will of course be a bit of a downside in terms of convenience, in that the volume control is located on the rear of one of the speakers.

Another factor that should be considered is impedance compatibility. An output impedance spec is not provided for the Phono Box, but the 21 to 24K input impedance JA measured for the speaker's amplifier makes it unlikely that impedance compatibility will be an issue.

The bottom line, IMO, is what ZD and Yogiboy said, and what Doug eloquently said in his last paragraph.

Best regards,
-- Al
I genuflect...
What Al said...

Dougdeacon said:
I genuflect
Doug, your personal habitats have no place on this forum ;-)