Where are the full-function preamps?

Vinyl almost died after the launch of CDs, but today the popularity of vinyl playback is on the rise. Music stores are selling more music available on LPs, and many audiogon systems include turntables.

So where are the full-function preamps?

Before digital, preamps were used to amplify low level signals like tape and tuners, and amplify and equalize phono signal inputs. They also had funtionality for input selection and volume control. After the launch of CD, phono inputs became optional in preamps as demand for LP playback fell. Now, there are many systems with only a single high-level digital input. Yet line stages are still considered essential by many. Why, unless the system is poorly designed and implemented?

The standard recommendation is for outboard phono units. Of course, this means at least one more set of interconnects. And some phono units need an outboard step-up transformer for sufficient gain with low-output (<0.5 mv) cartridges. And this means another set of interconnects, in an application (between transformer output and phono stage input) where the wire has a huge detrimental effect on the signal. The trend is for more equipment, requiring more ancillaries like power cords, interconnects and line filters, and more shelf space. And is this resulting in improved performance?

Why aren't consumers and LP enthusiasts lobbying for full function preamps to better serve our interests? And why aren't manufacturers, dealers and reviewers taking the lead by discussing this topic? There are a few exceptions that come to mind (CAT, Shindo, Supratek) but for the most part, we have few commercial preamps that properly serve vinyl playback.
Did it ever occur to you that the small vinyl minority don`t make mfg.`s bottom line rise enough to justify the expense which must be passed on alienating those who either have zero interest or have put the pops, clicks & static charges in their rear view mirror?
Best one available today at the cheapest price, Meaning it has fully adjustable MC impeadance stage with several dip switch settings, Plus MM stage, Remote control, All tube including the power supply, and auxilary inputs, using all high quality parts such as alps volume good caps etc.. and simple short path design is the Audio Mirror PP1 at about 800.00 if its even available that cheap anymore. Against my Ex preamps, Audio research, Cary, Kora, Counterpoint, mcintosh, this is the best sound and value, but there are plenty of full functions out there, just gonna give you the industry standard pricing which is a lot more.
You forgot Ayre, Hovland, McIntosh, to name a few more, the first two have excellent phono stages, albeit they are optional. (I don't know much about the McIntosh preamps, so I have no idea if their phono stages are fair, good or excellent.)

While I somewhat agree with your premise (I too have a full function preamp, the Ayre K-1XE), most people don't use vinyl as a source anymore, even with the resurgence in analog. It seems to be mostly us audiophiles, as well as a youth movement (i.e. typically college students) that are leading the resurgence. In general, most of the audiophiles who have gotten back into analog already had a line stage, and so only needed a phono stage, and most of the college students only need a phono stage, as they (typically) use a receiver.

I know that when I got back in a few years ago, I just added an ARC PH-3 phono stage. (Later, when I seriously wanted to upgrade my stereo system as a whole, I upgraded to the Ayre. But that is a lot of money, even for an audiophile.) It seems to me, that you get more bang for your buck by going with a separate phono stage until you can spend the big bucks on a really good full function preamp, as the phono stages in the mid-fi preamps are mediocre at best, IMHO anyway.

My two cents on the topic anyway.
Add Atma-Sphere, Aesthetix, and Rogue Audio to the list of manufacturers offering full function preamps with phono. I'm sure there are still others we've not yet named.
Supratek, VAC, Thor, CAT, BAT all have full function models (some as option in same chassis).
Don't forget Quicksilver. Their Full Function Preamp (that's actually its name!) is one to consider.
Herron has a terrific full featured pre that has phono option.pre
Scott: darTZeel NHB-18NS :)
Jonathon - The Dartzeel is very interesting. Not only is it full function, I like the the proprietary matched impedence connection between preamp and amp. This is transmission line 101 stuff, but seldom seen in high-end equipment (maybe spectral??). And the system sounded pretty nice the last time I heard it.

Musical Fidelity preamps are full function (at least most are), and my MF NuVista preamp has a phono section that's quite nice. I recently picked up a TAD-150 Signature preamp for my dual purpose (stereo, home theater) room. It's also full function, including home theater passthru, and a phono stage that's switchable MC/MM. I was stunned by how good its phono section is.
Don't forget VTL. Both the TL2.5 and the TL5.5 have available high quality phono stages.

What about Audible Illusions?
There are still many options of full function preamps out there (new and used) at almost all price categories, my favourites are CAT, Audible Illusions and Thor.


Add Jadis to the list too; their phono stages on the JP80 and JP200 are among the best.

I think you can explain the trend to separate phono stages cynically (hey, we already have the chasis from our line stage, now we can make more money selling a separate phono stage using that chasis) or on the perfectionist bent of the best designers, who recognize that in a no-holds barred design keeping the sensitive amplification of very low-level signals away from the line stage's power supplies and giving this stage its own power supplies is preferable to housing that stage in one chasis. I think the latter is more the case with the majority of the high end designers; I think that they believe that the vinyl lovers would likely prefer a higher level of performance from their equipment. Add to that the trend to make separate line stages that started with the rise of CD player sales, which would make designing a good phono stage to fit into that box a bit more difficult than designing one from scratch in its own box. Anyway, I think that may be an explanation, but as the above posts have pointed out, there are still plenty of excellent full-function preamplifiers out there.
Mark Levinson also offers a full-funcion option in their current models. And Porziob has it exactly wrong, except of course by his own agenda. No bottom-line incentive? Yeah, that explains the probably hundreds of firms catering to this market. Vinyl playback is alive and well within the high-end segment, and if preamps are offered with phono capability as an extra-cost option, even his digital panties have absolutely no reason to get in a twist.