Why You Need a Phono Stage for Your Turntable System

A vinyl record on a turntable.

What Is a Phono Stage Anyway? HiFi Buys Explains All 

If you’re new to vinyl, you might think all you need to start spinning records is a turntable. Just plug it in, put the record down and play, right? Well, there’s a bit more to it than that. 

Beyond the turntable and speakers, you’ll also need an amplifier and a phono stage, also known as a phono preamp. This might seem a bit complicated, but don’t worry—we’ve got you covered. Here’s a little insight into the magical world of turntables from HiFi Buys in Atlanta, GA. 

SEE ALSO: Experience the Best in Audio and Video at the HiFi Showroom 

What Is a Phono Stage?

A phono stage, also known as a phono preamp, is an essential component that amplifies the signal from your turntable before it reaches the amplifier. Vinyl records have incredibly low signal levels when played by the turntable cartridge, which means they need a boost before they can be played through speakers. 

A phono stage does just that—it amplifies the signal to a level suitable for your amplifier. Some turntables include a built-in phono stage, which is convenient, but standalone units often provide better quality.

What Else Do I Need?  

To play your beloved vinyl records, several components are necessary for a turntable system. First, there’s the turntable itself, which holds and spins the record. Then, there’s the cartridge and stylus (or needle), which track the grooves in the record and transform them into an electrical signal. 

As we just mentioned, the phono stage then amplifies this signal. After the phono stage, you need an amplifier, which further boosts the signal and prepares it for playback through speakers. Finally, the speakers convert the amplified signal into sound. We recommend using just two speakers for a stereo left/right setup instead of surround sound when listening to vinyl because that’s how the music was recorded. Each component is crucial in its own way and contributes to the overall sound quality and vinyl listening experience.

Why a Turntable System Is Best 

While all-in-one record players are tempting due to their convenience and often lower price points, a separate turntable system typically offers much better sound quality and customization. All-in-one players usually have smaller, built-in speakers and a built-in phono stage, which won’t provide the best audio quality. All-in-one players also leave little room for upgrades. 

On the other hand, with a turntable setup, you’ll have the freedom to choose high-quality components. You can pick a phono stage that matches your taste, pair it with an amplifier that delivers the power and tone you want, and add speakers that provide the clarity and bass response you desire. And as your taste evolves or as new technology emerges, you can easily upgrade individual components. This flexibility allows you to tailor the sound to your preferences and to continually enhance your vinyl listening experience over the course of your life. 


Ready to upgrade your music listening at home? Visit HiFi Buys’ showroom in Atlanta to try out our turntables, phono stages, and speakers for yourself. Contact us here to learn more—we’re always happy to help!

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