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USB Preamp - Review

Phono Preamp

If you have a turntable already and would like to connect it directly to your PC or Mac, then you will need a phono preamp to ‘match’ the signal level and impedance of the output of your turntable to your computer sound card input. Using a USB preamp makes life even easier. It’s more convenient than a normal analogue preamp, and is more versatile than a USB turntable.

Many budget computers will be using ‘on board’ sound, which is part of the motherboard and isn’t necessarily up to the job. USB phono preamps use their own sound card which is specifically designed to cope with the demanding task of processing audio, so there’s no need to worry too much about your computer sound card as it’s not being used in the recording process. This makes connecting your turntable or cassette deck and transferring your LP’s and cassettes to your PC or Mac trouble free.

Here are some recommendations and reviews

ART V2 USB Phono Plus DJ Preamp

(Don’t worry it’s called a DJ preamp – it just means it’s designed for a phono turntable)

Use with PC or Mac

“Unique product, solid build, very versatile. ART deserves some kind of prize for this…” a happy buyer

Art USB Phono Preamp

Here’s the official description –

The USB PhonoPlus v2 is the ideal low cost interface solution for transferring any analog or digital audio source, including a turntable into a computer via standard USB connection.

I guess that sums it up really but here’s my take on it……

Firstly ART is a reputable brand – good start : )

As you will see from the image on the left/above the USBPhonoPlus v2 has a gain (level or volume – which ever you want to call it) which is a useful feature and helps make sure you can ‘match’ the level of your turntable to the preamp – ie no overloading problems causing distortion. There’s also a handy ‘clip’ light to let you know if input level is too high.

Also on the front panel is a switch to power the unit from the power supply via the socket on the back panel or using the USB connection from your PC. (By the way – No USB cable is included so don’t forget to buy one if you need to)

The rear panel – image right/above shows you inputs and outputs. From the right hand side there’s a ‘phono input’ which will be used to connect your phono turntable and has built in RIAA matching. RIAA matching corrects equalisation as without it your records would sound very thin, tinny, and no bass.

Next there’s a line input, so you could plug a cassette deck, a turntable if it has ‘line out’ sockets, a CD player or even a radio tuner or TV sound.

Then there’s a S/PDIF and optical inputs/outputs which can be used to connect to other digital devices – ie; some CD players, DAT machines, or digital mixers etc. Although this is useful it’s probably not how the majority of people would use this device.

Under these sockets there is a ‘ground’ connection which connects to the ‘ground’ wire on your turntable. This reduces hum and buzzing noises.

The USB socket is next in line which connects to your PC or Mac. Under the USB is the power supply input for the power supply.

There you go – A great USB phono preamp I can definitely recommend.

USB Phono Preamp Behringer

Use with PC or Mac

This is a really interesting USB Phono Preamp as it comes with a bundle of software that will help you record and restore your cassettes and LP’s very quickly. Audacity is a very good audio editor and can be downloaded for free, but included is also ‘EnergyXT2.5 Compact music production software which is a Behringer product (I think).

Here’s the official description

Product Features

  • High-quality USB audio interface connects your turntable, cassette
  • Transfer and restore your valuable vinyl records and tapes to your computer via a simple USB connection
  • Massive software bundle includes Audacity vinyl restoration, noise-reduction, editing and recording software
  • comprehensive podcasting software and over 150 virtual instruments and effect plug-ins
  • Phono input switchable to line input source
  • Revolutionary energyXT2.5 Compact music production software included with feature-rich audio/MIDI sequencer that loads on all computer platforms

Plus being Behringer it is extremely good value for money – in fact I’d call it excellent value. (At the time of writing this – Amazon are running this with a 59% discount)