Do I Need a Receiver with a Phono Input to Play Records?
Q I need to replace an old receiver that has a phono input for my turntable. Do I need to get another receiver with a phono input, or can I just use the receiver’s Tape or Aux inputs instead?—David L. Waller
A If you want to continue listening to records, then yes, you will need to buy another receiver with a phono input. The Tape and Aux inputs on receivers are intended for sources that output a line-level signal. But the phono cartridge on your turntable’s tonearm outputs a low-level signal that first needs to be boosted to line level (and also undergo equalization to reverse the RIAA curve that gets applied to recordings cut on vinyl) by a phono stage before it is amplified.
Fortunately, plenty of manufacturers still make receivers with a built-in phono stages. You can find surround sound models from Onkyo, Denon, Marantz, Yamaha, and Sony, and stereo-only ones from Onkyo, Marantz, Yamaha, Harman Kardon, and Cambridge Audio.
Yet another option would be to buy an outboard phono preamp. You can score a decent model for as low as $150 from NAD, Cambridge Audio, or Pro-Ject. Just plug your turntable in, connect the preamp’s output to the Aux, Tape or any other analog stereo input on the receiver, and you’ll be in business.