Top 10 Best 12AX7 Phono Preamps
for December 2022

If you're upgrading your turntable, or you're a vinyl enthusiast who just wants to improve your listening experience, a phono preamp can help you get the most out of your record collection. Although phono preamps (or preamplifiers) aren't technically an amplifier, they help counter the reasonably low output of the turntable's built-in preamp, boosting it to sound closer to that of a dedicated amplifier.

Phono preamps also come in handy for portable audio players, such as smartphones and tablets, as well as computers, where an amp is often lacking. Phono preamps are made for high-quality audio, which makes them ideal for listening to your favorite tracks, whether you're streaming music online or plugging in your headphones. Most phono preamps also have an output level control, which allows you to adjust the volume so you won't need to crank up the volume as loud to hear audio.

When testing phono preamps, our team evaluates sound quality, ease of use, and build quality. We also spend time listening to playback from multiple record sources, including LPs, 45s, 78s and 33 1/3s. We determine the winners based on which phono preamps have the best sound quality, best value, and best overall features. Here are the best phono preamps you can buy right now:

Different Guide editors independently choose recommendations. Purchases made through our links may earn us commissions.

1
9.9
SCORE
Nobsound Little Bear T11 6N2/12AX7 Vacuum&Valve Tube Phono Turntable Preamplifier; MM RIAA LP Vinyl Record Player Preamp; Stereo HiFi Audio Pre-Amplifier

Nobsound Little Bear T11 6N2/12AX7 Vacuum&Valve Tube Phono Turntable Preamplifier; MM RIAA LP Vinyl Record Player Preamp; Stereo HiFi Audio Pre-Amplifier

by Nobsound
What We like

This pre-amp supports 6N2/12AX7 tubes. Almost all the tubes available in the market can be tried, and the price is reasonable. The New Little Bear 16AX7 tubes are even cheaper than 6N2 or 12AX7, and it has great sound quality.

2
9.6
SCORE
Bellari VP130 MK2 Tube Phono Preamp/Headphone Amplifier

Bellari VP130 MK2 Tube Phono Preamp/Headphone Amplifier

by Bellari
What We like

The Bellari VP130 is an excellent product at an affordable price. It reproduces music in a rich and natural manner. It was easy to connect and comfortable to wear.

3
9
SCORE
Fosi Audio Box X2 Phono Preamp for Turntable Preamplifier MM Phonograph Preamplifier with Gain Gear Mini Stereo Audio Hi-Fi Pre-Amplifier for Record Player with DC 12V Power Supply

Fosi Audio Box X2 Phono Preamp for Turntable Preamplifier MM Phonograph Preamplifier with Gain Gear Mini Stereo Audio Hi-Fi Pre-Amplifier for Record Player with DC 12V Power Supply

by Fosi Audio
What We like

An excellent entry-level preamplifier at a very affordable price. It has two inputs (1 is phono for vinyl) and a headphone output. It comes with a DC power supply, and a basic instruction book.

4
9
SCORE
Nobsound 12AX7 (ECC83) 12AU7 (ECC82) Vacuum Tube Preamp HiFi Preamplifier

Douk Audio Nobsound 12AX7 (ECC83) 12AU7 (ECC82) Vacuum Tube Preamp HiFi Preamplifier

by Nobsound
What We like

The Nobsound tube preamp sounds better and costs less than competitors. Its no-fuss design makes it a breeze to set up and use.

5
8.9
SCORE
DYNASTY PROAUDIO UA2D USB Phono Preamp for Turntable, Preamp with RIAA Equalized Low Noise Moving Magnet A/D Converter (Power Adaptor & USB Cable Included)

DYNASTY PROAUDIO UA2D USB Phono Preamp for Turntable

by Dynasty ProAudio
What We like

The UA2D USB Phono Preamp is our favorite USB pre-amp for turntables because it delivers the widest frequency range and highest fidelity. An input selector allows you to connect any type of turntable.

6
8.7
SCORE
Fosi Audio Box X1 Phono Preamp for MM Turntable Mini Stereo Audio Hi-Fi Phonograph/Record Player Preamplifier with 3.5MM Headphone and RCA Output with DC 12V Power Supply

Fosi Audio Box X1 Phono Preamp for MM Turntable Mini Stereo Audio Hi-Fi Phonograph/Record Player Preamplifier with 3.5MM Headphone and RCA Output with DC 12V Power Supply

by Fosi Audio
What We like

The Fosi Audio Box X1 phono preamp is easy to set up and use, and it sounds good. It isn't perfect, however, and its analog switch and lack of controls hold it back.

7
8.5
SCORE
ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier

ART DJPREII Phono Preamplifier

by Tascam
What We like

This preamplifier was the least expensive on our list. It doesn't require RCA cables, which saved money, but it also doesn't deliver the sound or performance of comparable models.

8
7.2
SCORE
GOgroove Mini Phono Turntable Preamp Preamplifier with 12 Volt DC Adapter , RCA Input for Vinyl Record Player - Compatible With Audio Technica , Crosley , Jensen , Pioneer , 1byone and More Turntables

GOgroove Mini Phono Turntable Preamp Preamplifier with 12 Volt DC Adapter , RCA Input for Vinyl Record Player

by GOgroove
What We like

GOgroove Mini Phono Turntable Preamplifier is a great addition to any home's sound system. Best part is you don't need a turntable to use it, so you can use the preamplifier with any turntable.

9
7.2
SCORE
Cambridge Audio Alva Solo | Phono Preamp for Moving Magnet Turntable

Cambridge Audio Alva Solo

by Cambridge Audio
What We like

This budget phono preamp delivers good sound for a budget price and is a good addition to any amplifier.

10
7.2
SCORE
Pro-Ject Audio - Phono Box DC - MM/MC Phono preamp with line Output - Blk

Pro-Ject Audio

by Pro-Ject
What We like

Phono Box DC is an affordable, compact phono preamplifier ($60) with line-level output. It offers a good value for budget-minded audiophiles.

Best 12AX7 Phono Preamps - 10 High-Quality Phono Preamps

If you are amp with a phono pre-amp, you know how good it is. Having the right set up means quieter playback and a greater range of sound. Amplifiers without a phono pre-amp play everything as loud as the volume allows. With a good phono pre-amp, the volume can be reduced. It is like having a volume control in the amplifier. This makes it easier to control the sound. A professional grade phono pre-amp will give you a flawless sound. It will sound clean and have an energetic finish. The best phono pre-amps are designed for premium hi-fi systems or home entertainment systems. They are manufactured using quality components. With a quality phono pre-amp, you can expect to hear a higher level of detail. The audio quality is improved. The bass response is also crisper. So, if you are amp with a phono pre-amp, here are the top 10 best 12AX7 phono preamps:

What is an 12AX7?

12AX7 tubes are a type of vacuum tube used in a variety of audio applications, including phono preamps. An 12AX7 is a vacuum tube that is constructed with 12 electron tubes in a 6-grid configuration. The first 6 tubes resemble two 6V6 tubes. These tubes offer lower distortion while operating at higher voltages. The next 6 tubes also resemble 6V6 tubes, but they are larger and offer higher gain. The final 6 tubes resemble 6V6 tubes, but they offer higher gain than 6V6 tubes. An 12AX7 tube is used in a variety of audio applications, including phono preamps.

Advantages and disadvantages of using 12AX7 in phono preamp

This paragraph will explain the advantages and disadvantages of using a 12AX7 in phono preamp. If you are interested in making a phono preamp circuit, first consider the following points:
Advantages: 12AX7 ICs are cheap and popular and are considered very reliable. They produce a good signal-to-noise ratio and do not add a lot of distortion to the signal.
Disadvantages: 12AX7s are mostly used in audio applications. That means the overall sound quality you get may not be the best.
Conclusion: If you want a phono preamp circuit, you can opt for a 12AX7. But if you do, you should make sure that the output stage is of high quality.

Comparison of 12AX7 devices

The 12AX7 is an audio amplifier circuit commonly used in radio tuners, tape decks, and some audio amplifiers. This circuit is based on the pentode, a vacuum tube device. The pentode is made of five (five) vacuum tubes. The 12AX7 circuit consists of five (five) 12AX7 vacuum tubes. The 12AX7 is a higher gain version of the 12AX6, which is the most common tube in audio. The 12AX7 is 1.5 volts low gain and has 5% negative feedback as compared to the 12AX6 which has 1.5V high gain with 2% negative feedback. The 12AX7 has a lower impedance (200 ohm) as compared to 12AX6 (600 ohm). The 12AX7 gets its name from the 12AX7 vacuum tube, which has a pin count of 7. This circuit is very versatile and can be used in a wide variety of applications, including washing machines, refrigerators, televisions, DVD players, and radios.

Tips on choosing the best phono preamp

Choosing the right phono preamp is an important decision, because it will directly affect your overall listening experience. When you listen to music, you're hearing the sound through speakers. The speakers produce sound waves, which travel through the air to your ears. The sound waves interact with your eardrums to produce sound. The phono preamp is a small device that amplifies the sound waves coming out of the speaker. The phono preamp converts the analog sound waves into digital ones, which your computer or music player can then understand. When shopping for a phono preamp, there are a few things that you should consider:
Output power: The power output of your phono preamp is measured in watts. The higher the power output, the louder the sound will be.
Noise: Noise is an unwanted disturbance in a signal. For example, if you record a noise like a fan in the background of your recording, the noise will be detected and amplified.
Transistor: The transistor is the main component in an audio preamp. It converts the electrical signal into sound.
Features: Many preamps include extra features, such as a built-in tuner or tape loop, which allow you to play music from other devices directly.
Price: The cost of your phono preamp will depend on the features it offers, as well as the material it is made from.

Conclusion

So, which one is the best? There are so many great options on the market. But, if you haven't heard anything from any of the 10 options on this list, we'd recommend the Stanton SA-10 fully balanced phono preamp. This preamp is affordable and offers fantastic sound quality. So, which of these phono preamps is right for you? Let me know in the comment section below.

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