The vinyl record has experienced a true renaissance in recent years – no other physical sound carrier is sold as often as the vinyl record. Vinyl enthusiasts consist of both old ‘veterans’ and people who have just discovered the ‘black gold’ for themselves. Of course, the medium plays a crucial role in music playback – but the pressing can be of high quality, yet if the played amplifier is unable to reproduce all nuances of the sound, it falls short. Many vinyl fans have long sworn by tubes for playing records. Today, we present the advantages of tube amplifiers for playing vinyl records, addressing not only tonal but also psychological benefits of analog amplification – enjoy!
Why Vinyl Records?
Before we delve into the topic of phono tube amplifiers, let’s briefly look at the phenomenon of vinyl – how come these black discs are suddenly modern again?
Analog vs. Digital
More and more of our daily lives take place in the digital world – emails, the internet, smartwatches – no area has escaped digital technology. Therefore, it’s not surprising that more and more people retreat to the analog world as soon as they can. Hobbies, like enjoying good music through a hi-fi system, are increasingly analog. The vinyl record is the ideal complement. The purely analog recording of music, in traditional manufacturing, avoids a “conversion” of sound waves into ones and zeros – the signal comes, so to speak, completely unchanged to the vinyl medium.
If a purely analog phono amplifier is used, the circle closes, and the recording has never actually been altered.
Tactility and Collecting
Another point that speaks for the vinyl record as a medium is undoubtedly the more elaborate production and the high-quality appearance of the record, the cover, and all accompanying materials – a well-crafted record is a complete work of art that stands out on any shelf. A Spotify playlist cannot compete in this regard.
The most crucial factor in the resurrection of the vinyl record is the sound: The warmth and clarity of a good pressing are, at least in our ears, superior to any digital format and digital amplifier. Of course, there are very prominent psychoacoustic factors in this perception. But we stick to it: vinyl records, played with a good phono tube amplifier, sound lively, good, and genuine with their soundstage.
Phono Tube Amplifiers – Good Sound for Analog Enthusiasts
If you want to experience the fully analog sound, it’s challenging for a hi-fi enthusiast to avoid a high-quality phono tube amplifier. Of course, digital amplifiers can handle the format, but they don’t offer the charm of analog. Here’s all the information about the phono amplifier:
Why Do You Need a Phono Tube Amplifier?
To reproduce the signal stored on the vinyl record, the very low voltage of the stylus must be amplified by a special amp. Large hi-fi integrated amplifiers with a dedicated phono input can accomplish this. Often, phono preamps, or preamplifiers, are also used to raise the signal to a level that can be processed by the power amp. Without a specific input or preamp, the signal cannot be played back, and the hi-fi system cannot handle the vinyl format. But what makes a good phono amplifier?
What Makes a Good Phono Tube Amplifier?
Unlike instrumental amplifiers, a phono amplifier needs to provide the most unadulterated, neutral playback of the input signal. To ensure this, special tubes and circuits are used in hi-fi amps. Besides lossless playback, the correct adjustment of the amp is also important. Depending on the used cartridge system (MM/MC), different input sensitivities of phono amplifiers are necessary. While highly resolving MC cartridges require strong amplification, MM cartridges need a lower level.
Choosing the Perfect Phono Tube Amplifier
To make your own hi-fi equipment fully ‘vinyl-ready,’ a tube amplifier is essential. But which amp is the right choice, and what should be considered? Here are some practical tips and tricks about the phono tube amplifier.
Integrated Amplifier vs. Preamp
As already mentioned, turntables require a specific input tailored to their special requirements. This is usually provided by a preamp or an integrated amplifier (tube or digital amplifier). When deciding between a preamp or preamplifier vs. an integrated amplifier, it mainly depends on the budget and the existing equipment. If a high-quality tube amp with a phono input is already in use, this should generally be sufficient to enable low-loss transmissions. If an amplifier without a phono input is in use, a preamp or preamplifier can be considered to complement the existing equipment. For a complete new purchase, we also recommend a combination of preamp and power amp – this way, the components can be best matched, and more options are available when choosing the (tube) power amp.
Cartridge systems for turntables differ not only in their operation but also in the output signal strength. While MM systems move a magnet in a coil (Moving Magnet = MM), an MC system has the coil itself as the moving part (Moving Coil = MC). While MM cartridges are already quite affordable, they do not have the fine resolution of MC systems. To be prepared for all technical changes later on, an amplifier or amp that offers variable input power is recommended. High-quality phono tube amplifiers like the Brocksieper Phonomax offer this function and work with all common cartridge systems.
Phono Tube Amplifiers – Conclusion
The vinyl record is back and brings joy and listening pleasure to more and more hi-fi enthusiasts. In combination with a high-quality amp, ideally a phono tube amplifier, the analog listening experience can be best enjoyed. Through purely analog playback and the warm, natural sound of tubes in the playback chain, a completely new, expansive stereo experience emerges. Especially in conjunction with a high-quality hi-fi system and the right speakers or headphones, an entirely new fascination for an old technology arises – analog music enjoyment of the highest quality!
Featured Image: Jan Felber – stock.adobe.com
Woman placing record: © kite_rin – stock.adobe.com
Man sitting on couch and listening to music: © cherryandbees – stock.adobe.com
Close-up of record player: © wertinio – stock.adobe.com