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Phono Stages

So what is a phono stage?

A phono stage (also known as a phono pre-amp) provides the connection between the record player and an amplifier. When vinyl was the defacto standard for audio recording, the phono stage was built-in to receivers and amps, allowing direct connection of a turntable.

However, as new formats like CDs were introduced and begun to replace vinyl, manufacturers of amplifiers removed or reduced the quality of their in-built phono stages and inputs as they were no longer being used.

A lot of hi-fi amplifiers now won’t let you plug in a turntable directly. You need to connect via a phono stage to make the very small signal from the turntable powerful enough for your main amp to work with.


How does a phono stage work?

To connect a turntable to an amplifier you will need to pass the signal through an external phono stage to increase the level.

Turntables cartridges output a very small signal and this needs amplifying up to several hundred times the size before it is loud enough for your amplifier. If any noise creeps in before or during amplification, it will become increased in volume detracting from the potential audio quality.

Our dedicated phono stages are fine tuned to reproduce the warm sound of vinyl, free from hiss or bearing rumble thanks to our engineers expertise in circuit design, component choice and layout.

Connected using a single audio interconnect cable, a phono stage is set-up in seconds allowing you to appreciate stunning clarity, musicality and resolution from all your vinyl recordings

Phono Stage with turntable and hi-fi

Do I really need a seperate phono stage?

Some amplifiers are already able to support turntable connections but these in-built phono pre-amplifiers are massively out-performed by external phono stages. Vinyl lovers will instantly hear the difference that a dedicated phono stage makes to music quality.


What's moving magnet and moving coil?

A phono cartridge has three main components, the needle, which sits in the grooves on your record, a magnet and a coil. As the coil or magnet move in relation to each other, they generate a voltage.

In the simplest terms, Moving-Magnet (MM) cartridges, are exactly what it sounds like. The part attached to the needle, is a magnet, which moves inside a surrounding coil of wire.

Moving Coil (MC) is the same basic components but the opposite way around. The coil rides on top of the needle surrounded by a magnet. Due to the smaller parts and greater precision, moving coil cartridges tend to be expensive compared to a moving magnet cartridge.

The primary difference between the cartridge types is, Moving Coil cartridges have a much lower output voltage compared to Moving Magnet carrtidges, so require a higher level of amplification before input to your amp.

The new CP1 is a Moving-Magnet-type (MM) phono stage, and its bigger brother, the advanced CP2 is capable of both Moving Magnet and Moving Coil operation.

The audible differences between the two magnet types can create a spirited debate amongst vinyl aficionados and you’ll find plenty of opinion across the internet. Tell us, what do you use at home?

Inside a Cambridge Audio Phono stage