Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

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MoPho
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Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by MoPho » 11 Feb 2019 21:37

Do you think an preamp is better than the phono input on a 90s home theater Onkyo receiver?

Or will the limitations of the receiver negate any preamp?

Spinner45
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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by Spinner45 » 11 Feb 2019 22:36

I've never heard of a problem using any yamaha phono stage, as long as it's in proper operating condition.

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by MoPho » 12 Feb 2019 02:19

I guess my question is: would a preamp be better than a home theater phono input? Or would the benefits of a preamp be limited to what the receiver can do?

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by Spinner45 » 12 Feb 2019 02:29

MoPho wrote:
12 Feb 2019 02:19
I guess my question is: would a preamp be better than a home theater phono input? Or would the benefits of a preamp be limited to what the receiver can do?
I mistakenly said yamaha, I meant Onkyo, but regardless, how does the system sound with records?
If generally you're pleased, then it's settled.

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by b+v8an » 12 Feb 2019 15:57

I have an Onkyo P3150 preamp from that era . The phono input is pretty good! I have tried other cheap (Pyle,etc) preamps because I had the same thoughts that you are having. The Onkyo sounds better.Unless you plan on spending a lot of money,don't sweat it. As an aside,the Onkyo also sounds better than the phono input on a much newer Yamaha RX-A2030. Hope this helps put you at ease.

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by Agrippa » 12 Feb 2019 17:30

The potential problem is that we're talking about an AV receiver, on which the phono inputs are generally merely an afterthought, when they exist at all. At least I've yet to hear an AV amp with a properly good phono section, while pre-amps and integrateds with good phono stages abound.

Hence my assumption would be a resounding yes, although it does of course depend on how much one wants or can spend on a phono stage.

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by kalaur » 12 Feb 2019 22:27

MoPho wrote:
12 Feb 2019 02:19
I guess my question is: would a preamp be better than a home theater phono input?
Depending on the phono stage you buy, probably.

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by MoPho » 13 Feb 2019 02:13

I guess the emphasis was on surround sound, hence the home theater receiver. Since they still has a phono input at that point, perhaps it is as good as any other previous Onkyo with a phono input....

So maybe the question would be: if your receiver has a phono input, would a preamp plugged into the line input make that much of a difference?

Thanks to all for your replies!

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by anh165 » 13 Feb 2019 14:14

I would recommend a decent budget phono pre-amp for the most gain for your buck.

Something like a Pro-ject Phono box MM for $80-$90 is a very good piece of kit and it would take $100-$150 more to find any improvement imo.

That would leave scope to upgrade your main amplifier if you ever want to.

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by Gravitar8 » 13 Feb 2019 15:32

anh165 wrote:
13 Feb 2019 14:14
I would recommend a decent budget phono pre-amp for the most gain for your buck.

Something like a Pro-ject Phono box MM for $80-$90 is a very good piece of kit and it would take $100-$150 more to find any improvement imo.

That would leave scope to upgrade your main amplifier if you ever want to.
IMO early 90's Yamaha AVR phono input (alas MM only) sounded/sounds better than the 2 external 'black boxes' I a/b compared to over more than a week of testing. One of these boxes was a NAD mm/mc. Perhaps the Yamaha AVR (it was I believe a second from the top of the line receiver when new) phono section sounded 'the same' as the NAD. In blind tests the 'winner' was inconsistently chosen and in non-blind tests the Yamaha seemed to have a hair more 'life' with my vinyl collection. I suppose one could stress the point-to-point internal phono section wiring (cable run as short as possible), the robust and super quiet PSU (versus the wall wart that the black boxes came with) and the convenience of having a turntable set up in the same room/rack as the AVR as big advantages. Finally saving 150$ on a 'black box', using the built in AVR phono section and spending that money saved on 10-15 quality used records makes way more sense to me.
And the 'black boxes'? They did not remain in any of my systems and I sold them on feebay. They are not missed.

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by anh165 » 13 Feb 2019 15:51

Gravitar8 wrote:
13 Feb 2019 15:32

IMO early 90's Yamaha AVR phono input (alas MM only) sounded/sounds better than the 2 external 'black boxes' I a/b compared to over more than a week of testing. One of these boxes was a NAD mm/mc. Perhaps the Yamaha AVR (it was I believe a second from the top of the line receiver when new) phono section sounded 'the same' as the NAD.

In blind tests the 'winner' was inconsistently chosen and in non-blind tests the Yamaha seemed to have a hair more 'life' with my vinyl collection.
The differences you are describing is the likely effect of input capacitance seen at the Yamaha amp and that of the stand alone Phono stage.

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by Gravitar8 » 13 Feb 2019 19:19

Possibly but im not sure. The NAD did not have selectable impedence setting nor did the Project Audio. For your theory to work they would both need to have the same default impedence settings which I suppose is possible. I didn't open them up to compare the IC's but wouldn't be surprised if all these little 'black boxes' use the same components.
anh165 wrote:
13 Feb 2019 15:51
Gravitar8 wrote:
13 Feb 2019 15:32

IMO early 90's Yamaha AVR phono input (alas MM only) sounded/sounds better than the 2 external 'black boxes' I a/b compared to over more than a week of testing. One of these boxes was a NAD mm/mc. Perhaps the Yamaha AVR (it was I believe a second from the top of the line receiver when new) phono section sounded 'the same' as the NAD.

In blind tests the 'winner' was inconsistently chosen and in non-blind tests the Yamaha seemed to have a hair more 'life' with my vinyl collection.
The differences you are describing is the likely effect of input capacitance seen at the Yamaha amp and that of the stand alone Phono stage.

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by tlscapital » 13 Feb 2019 23:02

Agrippa wrote:
12 Feb 2019 17:30
The potential problem is that we're talking about an AV receiver, on which the phono inputs are generally merely an afterthought, when they exist at all. At least I've yet to hear an AV amp with a properly good phono section, while pre-amps and integrateds with good phono stages abound.

Hence my assumption would be a resounding yes, although it does of course depend on how much one wants or can spend on a phono stage.
Those AVR's aim to have so much inputs that the phono stage is squeezed in there to say to have one. Not so much care is taken into those preamp build in preamps.

Mind you that the AVR's signal amplification process is made for digital dished out on STEREO+ channels and stuffs. Never convinced was I by the job of AVR's for phono playback.

Definitely they lack the power, dynamic and musicality that the phono signal favors. On the other hand for TV, movie, CD, digital radio and so forth they are efficient at it.

As for a good external preamp (with adjustable load, gain and capacitance) with a side PSU can be purchased new for around $300 and up. Second hand ones evidently for less.

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by Gravitar8 » 14 Feb 2019 03:12

Generalizations. So I'll play Devil's Advocate. Not all (even mid level) AVR's have compromised phono stages. The first thing one would need to do to determine 'if so' would be to look at the specs for the phono input. Then after comparing things such as gain, S-N ratio, dynamic range etc. one would need to perform comparison listening tests. That is what I did. Now of course, I'm not suggesting that a 500$+ dedicated phono stage will underperform when compared to a 800$ AVR with phono stage but exceptions do occur. Exceptions are the flip side of Generalizations.
Case in point- a quality AVR such as a Pioneer Elite series or a top model Yamaha from the very early 90's MAY indeed have a built in phono stage that comes close to said 500$+ dedicated phono stage. Noise floor and impedence being two relevant factors mentioned in earlier posts for this thread. Consider again that a top notch early 90s AVR often has preamp outs, multi channel outs etc. essentially turning the AVR into a dedicated preamp section and when not, acting more like an integrated amplifer (when digital signal processing, dolby, etc are turned off or when the AVR is run in 2 channel mode. Clearly then there is much more that meets the eye (ears) than we suspect. Thoughts?
tlscapital wrote:
13 Feb 2019 23:02
Agrippa wrote:
12 Feb 2019 17:30
The potential problem is that we're talking about an AV receiver, on which the phono inputs are generally merely an afterthought, when they exist at all. At least I've yet to hear an AV amp with a properly good phono section, while pre-amps and integrateds with good phono stages abound.

Hence my assumption would be a resounding yes, although it does of course depend on how much one wants or can spend on a phono stage.
Those AVR's aim to have so much inputs that the phono stage is squeezed in there to say to have one. Not so much care is taken into those preamp build in preamps.

Mind you that the AVR's signal amplification process is made for digital dished out on STEREO+ channels and stuffs. Never convinced was I by the job of AVR's for phono playback.

Definitely they lack the power, dynamic and musicality that the phono signal favors. On the other hand for TV, movie, CD, digital radio and so forth they are efficient at it.

As for a good external preamp (with adjustable load, gain and capacitance) with a side PSU can be purchased new for around $300 and up. Second hand ones evidently for less.

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Re: Preamp better than phono input for 90s Onkyo Receiver?

Post by tlscapital » 14 Feb 2019 10:58

Gravitar8 wrote:
14 Feb 2019 03:12
Generalizations. So I'll play Devil's Advocate. Not all (even mid level) AVR's have compromised phono stages. The first thing one would need to do to determine 'if so' would be to look at the specs for the phono input... ...Exceptions are the flip side of Generalizations.
OK, I should have take the extra caution naming the exception(s) out there that apply for every rule where there's always the exception to confirm the rule. So on the integrated preamp matter in those AVR's, just as in their previous tuner receiver's, the preamp can indeed be of simple build and a decent performer on those specs you mentioned.

And if I understand the argument and preference for some that do not want to pay the extra bucks for a higher end external preamp that are satisfied with their integrated phono stage sound presentation; good. Only to accept dismissive (not implying you at all) terms of audio snobbery for higher end gear is nothing rational or acceptable.
Gravitar8 wrote:
14 Feb 2019 03:12
Case in point- a quality AVR such as a Pioneer Elite series or a top model Yamaha from the very early 90's MAY indeed have a built in phono stage that comes close to said 500$+ dedicated phono stage. Noise floor and impedence being two relevant factors mentioned in earlier posts for this thread... ...(when digital signal processing, dolby, etc are turned off or when the AVR is run in 2 channel mode.
In comparison with the "older" tuner receiver, the whole amplification signal is much more suitable for both air-wave and analog signal. I remember as a kid playing on my grand ma's phono & tuner station cabinet dating likely from the early sixties that the radio use tho blow out of the integrated speakers while the phono selector required more volume.

On all the AVR's (expensive monsters pre Y2K and later) I've heard, the phono playback sound was muffled and the music just not there. Volume scale increment was so "shy" and does nothing to correct or benefit it. Fiddling with all the knobs and buttons in attempt to improve any of that was vein. I've not heard all the AVR's out there; true.

Understanding these buttons and knobs face plate big box 5AVR's) with zillions of connections on their back panel and what they are made of internally in their circuitry is evidently primary dedicated for the digital signal processing. Few internal circuitry switches can't make up for an altogether different analog (in quality) signal treatment even if decent.

If I was into digital, I would purchase a purely dedicated amp to do just that. But I'm a sole phono guy. An adjustable external preamp did some improvement in one case though. Yet now this friend/AVR owner seeks to purchase an affordable (his budget is limited) dedicated pure analog amp (vintage or not) to truly benefit his phono sound stage.

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