Phone preamp

I have a Naim atom and quite a basic audio technica turntable, I mostly stream music , however got some vinyl and quite disappointed with the phone stage contained within the turntable as have to crank up volume on atom quite high and not sure if I should consider a separate phone preamp between turntable and atom. Any recommendations, was thinking maybe rega phone A2D or Graham glee slam amp 2 or certainly similar price range or is it just not worth it?

Schiit Mani 2. It has dip switches that allow attenuation to any cartridge. I have the Mani 1 with a Rega P3/Hana SL, and it’s excellent. Only $149!


I think you really need to indicate a budget range. I could guess from the turntable that either a NAD or Ifi phono stage would be the sort of thing you’re after but hard to know what you have in mind.

But even a phono stage won’t generally even out the huge disparity between digital source nominal volume and vinyl. It is pretty normal to have to crank up the knob twice as high to get the same volume.

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I second that option. I use it with a Rega RP3 into a Nova and it sounds great! For my small vinyl collection and occasional vinyl listening it actually does a great job of brining the gain up closer to the digital streaming sources.

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Thanks, was thinking up to £200, however all about the potential benefits this brings most importantly sonically and secondary volume levels for vinyl and streaming being more aligned. If it makes no sonic difference then I can live with cranking up volume knob tbh.

Given that you have quoted a price in Sterling, are you in the UK? Are you within distance of Richer Sounds who stock the Atom and AT turntables?
Looking at their stock list, at £149, they have an own brand Cambridge and ifi Zen preamp. Looking at the specs, the Cambridge has an output of 300mV and the Zen a maximum of 6.5 V.
Perhaps they could demo and see if either solves the problem?

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Thanks yes based in Glasgow, UK. So richer sounds a good option to consider.

You don’t say which AT you have, but if it’s really basic bear in mind that a phono stage can only do so much. If it already goes loud enough I’m not sure of the wisdom of getting a better phono stage just so you don’t need to turn the Atom up as much, if that makes sense.

You may be better saving your pennies and perhaps looking at a better turntable in due course, maybe a Rega Planar 2 and Fono MM.


I use a musical fidelity LX2-LPS with my Thorens and Atom. Always loved the sound of the MF, found i prefer it over the Rega phono. It has more clarity and better bass i found.

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You can try Rega planner one with Rega phono M and Rega Exact or Elys
I have already made this combination (Rega Exact) for a friend and the performance was amazing!

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That’s approx £900 worth of kit new, assuming replacing planar 1 cartridge with the Exact MM. like combination but more than planned on spending. Thinking £200 phono preamp will see me through then upgrade deck down the line.

I do tend to agree that an upgraded deck, even with a low quality built-in phono stage would get you further than an external phono stage at this point. The deck is so important.

Some have mentioned Rega, a forum staple. Sterling reputation for excellent decks at all price points and if made in UK is important to you, an obvious choice my be a P1 direct into the Naim. As an alternative against the crowd, I use a TEAC deck which performs exceptionally. Has both analogue and digital out from the phono stage built in, and they do both belt and direct drive variants. The digital output get’s the volume level very close to digital source.

An external phono stage really makes sense if you have made up your mind that you will later splash some real money on a serious deck (which for the most part have no built-in phono stage). So it greatly depends on how you view your relationship to your vinyl collection and where you see that going.


Stretch it out to £220 and go for the Rega Fono MM MK5, hard to beat in that price range.

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The Parks Audio Puffin DSP phono stage with the SPDIF out would be a good combination. The phono stage converts the signal to digital, then you can go into the ATOM via the SPDIF input. There are a ton of processing, diagnostic, and output level options on the Puffin. I use one into my NDX 2 and it sounds great. It’s MM and MC.

I have pretty similar setup - AT LP5X with upgraded cart VM95SH which sounds really fantastic IMHO, and Atom. I use Pro-Ject Phono Tube Box S2 with custom tubes (Genalex Gold Lion) and the whole chain sounds warm, detailed and enjoyable. I’ve been thinking recently to upgrade my turntable to Clearaudio Concept MM but later decided to wait a bit and go with Rega Planar 8. Thus, depending on your budget Pro-Ject phono tube box could be a good match.
My volume is nearly reaching 45 and that’s already quite loud tbh even with gain level being set to 30 (minimum for MM) on Pro-ject phono preamp.


Whatever you do, don’t spend a penny until you’ve auditioned a phono preamp with your turntable at a dealer. You may find its not the preamp, its the turntable or cartridge.

There’s a reason the Linn Sondek starts at $6,000 and goes up to $25,000!

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