What is the difference between Phono and Line on record and vinyl players


What is the difference between Pho no and Line on record and vinyl players



A misunderstanding between the Line and Pho no entries confuses both new and experienced vinyl record player users. In these next lines, we will explain the difference between Phono and Line and why or how you can use one component without the other.

What is the difference between Pho no and Line


The primary difference between Pho no and Line is that the 

Phon o signal is much weaker than the Line signal.


The phono output signal needs help from the  preamp  to amplify the sound properly, which is why the sound level sounds quieter.

Line level is really amplified audio output,

and it comes in many different devices such as a CD player, phone or laptop. If you connect a device that emits a linear signal, you will notice severe distortion and unpleasant sound quality, because you are amplifying a signal that has already been amplified.

What do you do with the phon o output?

As the vinyl record player cartridge runs along the groove of the record,

it produces a very quiet acoustic signal that is passed from your vinyl player: this is a phon o signal.

As mentioned above, this signal must be amplified in order to be properly heard and enjoyed,

and there are several ways to amplify this phono signal.


Phon o amplifier

Some vinyl players have a built-in amplifier that can amplify the phon o

signal before connecting it to a stereo or speakers. The quality of the amplifiers can range from bad to good,

but vinyl players usually have an option to turn off or bypass any built-in amplifier.

Keep in mind, if you choose to use the built-in preamp,

you don’t need to plug the vinyl player into your stereo or your speakers’ Phon o input. Alternatively, connect it to a Line or tape channel to access the non-amplified Line input.

If you finish doing that, you will soon realize that the sound quality of your music will be very distorted. Simply turn off the amplifier or switch your cables from Phono Channel to Line Channel.

external phon o amplifiers

If your vinyl player and stereo don’t have built-in phono amplifiers, buying an external phono amplifier might be the way to go. These devices amplify the Phono signal, allowing you to connect to any Line channel on your stereo or speaker.

Again, as above, make sure you only use one form of amplification, or your voice will be distorted. In general, it’s best to use a standalone phono preamplifier if you have one rather than a built-in phono or channel phono input.


How does phon o amplification work?

As a cartridge travels along the grooves of the cylinder, the sound it produces is very quiet. If you’ve ever experienced this before, you’ll notice a very soft and calm voice. This is because when recording is done, the low frequencies are reduced and the high frequencies are increased.

why is that? The answer is rather simple; Lower bass frequencies require larger grooves to be drilled into the vinyl record, but larger grooves mean less space on the vinyl record, shorter recording times, and more chance of a groove damaging the vinyl player cartridge.

In order to mitigate this,

the cylinders are sculpted in a way that minimizes low bass notes

in order to conserve space and prevent unnecessary wear on the cartridge.

Now, obviously,

this needs to be corrected somehow.

  This is where amplification and equalization come in through a process called RIAA Equalization.

The RIAA Equation and its Relation to the Difference Between 

Pho no and Line

RIAA equalization was created by the Recording Industry Association of America in order to increase vinyl recording time, improve sound quality, and protect against damage to vinyl player cartridges during playback.

RIAA equalization involves amplifying the previously low bass signal while minimizing the high frequencies coming from the vinyl record. Amplification can be done through the use of vacuum tubes or power transistors in tube amplifiers or solid state amplifiers respectively, and results in a balanced audio signal ready  to be listened to and enjoyed !




To sum up, the Phon o signal coming from the vinyl player is much quieter than the Line’s amplified version. You have to amplify this phono signal to be able to enjoy it properly. Some vinyl players have this feature built in, some don’t, and it should be noted that record players don’t need any amplifiers to play audio.

The Line signal is the typical sound you are used to listening to. It’s amplification output that looks balanced and flat. Finally, we discussed the RIAA equation and how it enhances and reduces certain frequencies that come from a vinyl player’s phono signal.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button