Maximize Your Vinyl Experience with a Tube Phono Preamp: 10 Top-Rated Options

Published Categorized as Vinyl Gear Guides

Are you looking to take your preamplification to the next level? Want to get to find the best tube phono preamp for you?

Then pucker up and get your lips around the 10 best options for tube preamplification as arrayed right here!

tube phono preamp

Table of Contents

1. Pro-Ject Tube Box S2

Yes, wherever audiophilia is concerned you can be sure that Pro-Ject is sniffling and snuffling about in the dirt for its next fix. And why wouldn’t you go for this when, among other tube phono preamps, it offers arguably the best experience at one of the more competitive prices? This is likely the best tube phono preamp (or at least one of the best tube phono preamps) on the market right now.

Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 Phono Preamplifier - Black


  • Sound quality through the tube phono stage and stereo amplifier is rich and smooth.
  • The build quality is solid, sturdy, and reliable.
  • The overall tone and aesthetic are versatile, catering to a whole swathe of different styles.


2. Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2

What did we already say about Pro-Ject? No wonder they have got their sights set on another preamp already, this one even more expensive than the last! This is a good phono preamp no doubt, but, as tube preamps go, you can certainly find cheaper ones!

Pro-Ject Tube Box DS2 Phono Preamplifier (Black)


  • The sound is almost unparalleled, especially in this price range.
  • The build quality is also incredible and it is clear that a lot of love and attention went into this thing.
  • The design will no doubt attract those more interested in minimalist design aesthetics.
  • With a sound that is so clear and versatile, this thing really is hard to beat in terms of the sonics alone.


  • This is where things start to get incredibly expensive.

3. Vincent PHO 701

With those vacuum tubes on full display, it’s not hard to see why this offering from Vincent does so well. As phono stages go, the audio quality is on par with these chauvinistic aesthetics, catering to both MM and MC cartridges, the two most common on the market today.

Vincent PHO 701 Phono Preamplifier MM/MC w/Outboard Power Supply Black


  • Though made by a relatively little-known manufacturer, this is a reliable piece of kit that is well-made all around.
  • The sound quality is also incredible, matching perfectly the beautiful design that so lustrously exhibits the warm and glistening tubes at work.


  • The price here is a little steep, though some might say you get what you pay for.
  • There is a lack of adjustable gain here, an oversight that seems to belie the high price tag.

4. Fosi Audio Box X2

So, while all the other examples thus far have been extortionately expensive, this offering from Fosi manages to pack a serious punch at an incredibly low price tag, making this perfect for those who want that signature tube sound but without the hefty debt hangover.

Fosi Audio Box X2 Phono Preamp for MM Turntable Phonograph Preamplifier with Gain Gear Mini Stereo Audio Hi-Fi Pre-Amplifier for Record Player with DC 12V Power Supply


  • For the price, the tube sound on display here is really top-notch.
  • Compared to other tube preamps, the sound performance here is really something, for many tend to sound quite muddy and akin to their low price.
  • In this price range, this is the preamp to go for.


  • That last point being said, there are not really many other tube preamps in this price range, meaning there is scarcely much competition for such a laudatory title.

5. Little Bear T7

Enter from stage left the Little Bear T7, a tube phono preamp that seeks to keep other cheaper tube phono preamps like the Fosi up at night wondering about their prospects. The build quality sure leaves a lot to be desired, but the sound quality here is pretty good. You really can’t complain about prices like this anyhow!

Little Bear T7 Vacumn Tube Mini Phono Stage RIAA MM Turntable Preamp & HiFi Tube Pre-Amplifier (Black)


  • For the price, the sound quality here is decent enough to get the job done, delivering that signature tube phono preamp tone at a substantially minimal price point.


  • The build quality has to be duly noted – many would say that it is simply not acceptable, though if it is going to keep the price down in this way then so be it.
  • In this way, the whole thing feels very much like someone’s own DIY kit.

6. Little Bear T11

This other offering from Little Bear steps things up a bit and saves the company from looking like a complete joke. This is a fully-fledged and well-designed vessel, especially in comparison to the previous offering from Little Bear!


  • The price point here, though a little more expensive, is reasonable, offering authentic tube sound at a decent price.
  • The sound here is entirely tube-driven too, featuring no solid-state op-amps or transistors behind the scenes.
  • With some tube upgrades, this thing can be taken to the stratosphere.


  • The RCA connectors are a little weird, something that could easily have been sorted with a more thorough quality control check.

7. Bellari VP130 MK2

Though beholden to a bunch of mixed reviews, this offering from Bellari is still held in high esteem by many audiophiles looking for a bargain but without sacrificing the quality of their tube sound. Considering the mixed reviews, though, it is hard to fully endorse such a piece of kit.

Bellari VP130 Mm Tube Phono Preamplifier With Headphone Amplifier


  • For a relatively small price point, you are getting that signal tube preamp sound – at its best, this preamp really can compete with some of the other more highly-lauded offerings on this list.


  • There are, however, a whole bunch of mixed reviews which suggest that quality control is not good enough to assure you that each preamp that leaves the factory is going to be in the best condition.
  • The design and the color also might be a little off-putting to some.

8. Douk Audio MM Phono Amp

Unlike all of the other offerings thus far presented, this preamp from Douk also offers wireless options, taking the tube preamp into the 21st century. In terms of the competition, this is one of the most versatile tube preamps, even if only for the fact that it offers both wireless connections via Bluetooth connectivity and wired connection via 3.5mm and RCA jacks.

HiFi Stereo Bluetooth 5.0 Vacuum Tube Amplifier MM Phono Amp for Turntables 320W


  • The connectivity options here really are the thing that singles this preamp out as being one of the most diverse on the market, allowing for both wired and wireless connections.
  • For some, the design and build quality will be very desirable indeed, exhibiting the tubes and their hard work for all to see.
  • In comparison with some other tube preamps, this one boasts a very moderate power consumption, if you are curious about that sort of thing.


  • The Bluetooth connectivity, for all its perks, does take some time to get going, so don’t be working with it in a hurry.

9. Ampapa A1

As vacuum tube preamps go, this preamp from Ampapa really is one of the best at this price range, doubly standing out because of its ability to work as a headphone preamp at the flick of a switch.

Ampapa A1 Vacuum Tube Phono Preamp, Headphone Amp, Hi-Fi Audiophile Preamplifier for MM Turntable Record Player with Tone Control for Home Stereo Audio System


  • As with the previous offering, there are plenty of different connectivity options, including the use of the entire preamp as a dedicated headphone preamp.
  • The design is incredibly compact and could theoretically fit into any setup.
  • Considering the price point, this thing comes bedecked with an incredible panoply of accessories to get you started.


  • The sound, though esteemedly capable at this price point, can be a little too bright when dealing with some styles of music.

10. ART USB Phono Plus

Though not strictly a tube preamp, it is still worth mentioning this particular preamp from Art Pro for, though it is inherently solid state in design, the sound quality is undoubtedly reminiscent of many of the tube preamps we have explored in more detail above.

ART USB Phono Plus


  • This is an incredibly affordable piece of kit considering the wealth of sound and extra features that are on offer.
  • Powered by USB, this thing can be plugged in just about anywhere – thanks also to this USB functionality, you can easily convert your vinyl audio to digital.
  • In working through solid-state USB power, this preamp is compatible with several different operating systems.


  • Despite all these special features, this preamp doesn’t actually come with an on/off switch, meaning that it has to be plugged in/out every time you want to turn it on/off.

Final Tones

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you have now found a worthy candidate to place within your own precious setup.

FAQs Tube Phono Preamp

Does a tube phono preamp make a difference?

This will depend on your ears and general music tastes. Many audiophiles will swear by tube amplification, just as many musicians still swear by using heavy and costly tube amps for gigging. Whether or not this is the case will no doubt depend on your own biases.

What does a tube phono preamp do?

A tube phono preamp, much like a normal preamp, takes the raw phono signal and amplifies it to a reasonable level so that it can then go forth to the amplifier and then the speakers. The only difference is in the use of tubes instead of solid-state transistors.

Do tube preamps sound better?

Some people certainly believe so, though whether or not they do when compared with their solid-state counterparts will no doubt depend on your own sonic preferences.

Can a tube preamp be left on all the time?

While there is a certain degree to which tubes need to warm up a little before they sound their best, they ideally shouldn’t be left on at all times, even if only for the sake of the dying planet.

By Robert Halvari

My name is Robert Halvari - audio engineer and a total audiophile. I love vinyl because it has that natural character which brings music to life. I've been using and testing vinyl record players for around 15 years and I'm sharing my love and knowledge of vinyl by publishing all I know at Notes On Vinyl

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