How to Use a Phono Preamp on a CD Player

Written by christopher godwin
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How to Use a Phono Preamp on a CD Player
Many older CD players made when vinyl records were more popular require a phono preamplifier for the right voltage. (vinyl record and cds image by Warren Millar from

Using a phono preamplifier on a CD player can be beneficial when using an older-model CD player that has slightly lower voltage than most CD players made after the late 1990s, when most CD players began to use standardised voltage no longer requiring a preamplifier for power. However, older CD players may need a phono preamplifier to play at an adequate listening volume even if you have speakers with significant output.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Phono preamplifier
  • CD player
  • Audio cabling -- will depend on models used
  • Speakers with speaker cable

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  1. 1

    Locate the "Phono" input on the back of the amplifier. Note the connection needed. Most standard phono preamplifiers will accept an RCA connection, but others require a plain wire connection, banana-plug connection, and in some case, ¼-inch cable connections.

  2. 2

    Check the back of your CD player to find the type of cable needed to send the output to the input of the phono preamplifier. Again, in most cases, RCA is standard. However, there are other connections.

  3. 3

    Locate or purchase the proper cabling that will allow you to connect your CD player to a phono preamplifier.

  4. 4

    Connect the speaker outputs of your preamplifier to the proper speakers.

  5. 5

    Put your audio components in place and connect them with the proper cabling. Plug the components in a surge protector or wall output and turn them on.

  6. 6

    Lower the volume to the minimum setting on your phono preamplifier. Lower the volume on your CD player if it has an output volume control on the front panel.

  7. 7

    Select the proper input setting on the amplifier and slowly raise the volume on the amplifier to test that your equipment is working. If your CD player has a volume control on the front panel, turn that up slowly as well. You can adjust overall volume settings on your CD player and set it for use after you know the components work. Just make sure you are getting clear sound out of the speakers.

Tips and warnings

  • If an older phono style preamplifier has an input for a CD player, try that connection if your amplifier is humming after connecting or it puts out too much volume, a distorted signal or an extremely low signal. Many older amplifiers had particular voltage inputs for CD players made around the same time. The cabling necessary for this may be different, depending on the components you are using.

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